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Assistive Technology for Autism Spectrum
Posted by Denise Bandl, M.S., CCC-SLP, ATP on July 09, 2016
Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) can benefit from the use of Assistive
Technology (AT). Through the use of AT, the user can become less dependent on caregivers
for prompts. This fosters greater independence and success.
Although "paper" schedules are beneficial,
many individuals will perform
better when there is also a paired voice prompt.
Use simple communication
buttons, such as the Talk About! to create"
talking" visual schedules. Velcro
pictures or objects to each button and place the
buttons in the order in which
tasks should be completed. Velcro the buttons
to a wall, table, or other surface.
If you need a portable, inexpensive voice
output visual schedule, Velcro the
Talk About! buttons to a Talk n Tote Board.
Sample "talking" visual schedule (place pictures on buttons and record a message on each
Morning arrival: "I will put my lunchbox in my cubby."
Morning free time: "I will play with blocks."
Morning activity: "I will set on the red carpet for reading time."
Center Based Tasks
Use communication buttons to record the directions for each center's activity. If the task is a
simple one, you could record the instructions on one button. If the task is more complicated
(multi-step) considering recording each step of the directions on a Little Step-by-Step. Each time
the button is pressed, the next step will be spoken out loud for the user. Or a series of individual
communication buttons could be used. Use Time Trackers at each center to provide visual cues
for time remaining.
Melt Down Redirection
Individuals with ASD
often find it difficult to
transition from one
activity to another. Using
visual schedules is
helpful in these
transitions. But a visual
cue before a task is
coming to an end allows
these individuals time to
"gear up" for a change.
Using a visual timer such
as the Time Tracker
gives individuals with
ASD cues about how
much time is remaining
for a task and when time
is coming to an end for an
activity. This makes for a
Sometimes people just need a break. Use a communication button with a message like "I need a
break". Then set your visual timer to allow for a short break.
Use communication buttons that show various ways to chill out. Let the individual pick the
"I can play with my squishy ball."
"I can hide under my weighted blanket."
"I can listen to music."
Record music clips on several Talk About! buttons and mount them in the "chill out" area. Put
pictures that represent the type of music on the button. Then the user can choose what to listen
to. Free music downloads for educators can be found at sites such
Individuals with ASD often need reminders throughout the day in order to stay calm and
directed. Record a message with calming techniques on communication buttons that the
individual can listen to throughout the day.
"Breathe in... (pause)... breathe out."
"Count to 4. 1...2...3...4."
"I can take a break at 3 o'clock."
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