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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.

Visual Schedules

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

smoother transition.

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

calming activity.

"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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