Welcome to the 21 st Century: Changing the Lives of People with Autism Spectrum Disorders by using Technology

Staff and families may be aware of voice output devices for people who cannot speak and may think that this is the only “technology” that applies to people with autism spectrum disorders. Think again!! There are literally thousands of technological devices that can improve the quality of life, learning, health, safety, participation, independence and contribution of people with autism and related disorders. You already have some of these “devices” in your own homes and classrooms!

This presentation will enable participants to identify many types of assistive technology from “low tech” to “high tech” devices. Devices will be demonstrated to inspire participants to try them. This presentation will make staff and parents more creative and effective in identifying and meeting the technology needs of children and young adults with ASD served in schools as well as matching appropriate devices to the adults with special needs. Learn how to make anyone with autism or other developmental disabilities more “able” to do real life activities at home, school, work, and when having fun.

Adult services providers are faced with an ever growing population to serve with limited funding. The use of carefully chosen technology is one way to decrease the need for personal support in some situations, often saving staff time and agency resources. In this presentation, providers and parents of adults with ASD and other learning differences will learn how to select technology and how to try it to be sure it will be effective. Funding sources other than schools, adult provider agencies and families will be identified and help through the funding maze will be given.

Services available in any state’s assistive technology project will be explored. If presented in Illinois, the Illinois Assistive Technology Program device loan program will be explained. This is a program that enables staff and parents to “try before they buy” devices and to get help in the funding of needed assistive technology.

Participants will learn:

That almost anything can be “technology”
to identify when a “thing” could help someone participate or contribute
to relate the features of autism spectrum disorders to the need for specific devices in a wide variety of situations and environments
strategies and considerations for choosing devices to be used
to individualize the planning process around technology
Resources for learning more about technology
Funding options and methods to have technology funded