Assistive Technology & Helpful Tools

What is assistive technology (AT)?
As defined by the Assistive Technology Industry Association, assistive technology (AT) is any item, piece of equipment, software or product system that is used to increase, maintain or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.                                      

The goals of usage
As a parent or caretaker of a child with special needs, one of your first goals must be to select the most appropriate education and tools to help your child work towards independence. The second goal is for you to determine how you can use AT to capitalize on your child’s strengths to work around his/her disabilities. When you accomplish these two critical things, your child is on the way to a better life.

Generally many types of assistive technology may cost you little or nothing (even the expensive items). Many states and communities offer programs and services to help people with disabilities obtain and pay for assistive technology. See these two resources to identify centers in your area.

  • The Rehabilitation Engineering & Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA), lists offices in each state that provides financial assistance for AT.
  • Job Accommodation Network (JAN), offers an extensive list of State Assistive Technology Projects. The projects are funded under the Assistive Technology Act of 1998 and provide AT, consultation, product demonstrations, equipment borrowing and low-interest loans for individuals with disabilities.

How to jump start education in school
Your child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team makes decisions about assistive technology devices and services based on your child’s unique needs. According to Wrightslaw, the law requires schools to use assistive technology devices and services to maximize accessibility for children with disabilities (20 U.S.C. 1400(c) (5) (H) )

If the IEP team determines that your child needs AT, the school district is responsible for providing them and cannot use lack of availability or cost as an excuse.

How do you select the right assistive technology for your child?
In partnership with a team of professionals (i.e. pediatrician, family practitioner, special education teachers, speech pathologists, rehabilitation engineers, occupational therapists and manufacturing consultants), you can select the best AT for your child.

Top Assistive Communication Technology
According to professionals at the Utah Center for Assistive Technology, here are some of the hottest devices on the market to meet a wide spectrum of children’s communication needs.

  • The Pulse SmartPen from Livescribe ( is a pen with eyes, ears and a brain. It records and links audio to everything you see, hear and write. This ensures the user doesn’t miss a word.
  • iPod Touch ( with Prolo quo2Go ( is an award-winning Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) solution for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch for people who have difficulty speaking or cannot speak at all. It offers music, video, games and full-featured communication.
  • Solo 6 Literacy Suite ( is a literacy suite of the most popular AT accommodations including a text reader, graphic organizer, talking word processor and word prediction.
  • DynaVox Express ( is a pricey, high-level augmentative communications device. Many consider it one of the most powerful handheld communication devices. It delivers communications capabilities via a touchscreen.

Below is a list of the top AT products for special needs kids as reported by Debbie Marsh of Disaboom as well as new apps for MAC devices:

  • iPhone IEP (Individualized Education Program) Checklist App ( helps parents of special needs children become better informed advocates by making IEP information easier to access. This app is offered free of charge and can be downloaded from the Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center (PEATC) web site.
  • Free Education Apps for Children with Special Needs ( offers a wide selection of fun and educational games to meet your child’s learning style.
  • Scribd ( iPhone Apps in (Special) Education—is listed by Samuel Sennott, Eric Sailers and David Niemeijer. A variety of apps are available for your review. See A.S.K.’s January printed publication for how to evaluate the best app for your child’s unique needs and learning style.
  • ATKidSystems recently introduced Learning for Children. ( This software is designed for children 3-5 years old. It provides fun, educational activities while evaluating student performance. The data can help teachers and parents understand challenging areas for the child.
  • ATKidSystem’s flagship product Cosmo’s Learning Systems
  • ( is compatible with MAC and Windows. It is ideal for children ages 2 to 8. This system is great for children with and without disabilities. For children with disabilities, this system is an excellent motivator for physical, occupational, speech/language and recreational therapy activities.
  • Special education keyboarding programs are for children with learning disabilities, physical challenges and those who are visually impaired. Children learn by touch-typing and using a simple, intuitive program. They are available for children of all ages at the Teacher’s Institute for Special Education ( Custom-designed keyboards are available for unique needs (i.e. a one-handed user who is also blind and dyslexic).
  • Rock N Go ( a fun math product uses music to educate children. It is ideal for special needs kids with attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, dyslexia and dyscalculia. It includes ten music genres, a CD and a workbook.
  • CompuThera (, is a great 7-step tool to teach reading to special needs kids with Down syndrome, autism, ADHD and those who are visual learners.
  • Founded more than 20 years ago, Laureate Learning ( is software designed to help special needs children improve reading, language and cognition. They offer a wide range of software for children with autism, learning and language disabilities, developmental disabilities, traumatic head injuries and much more.
  • Model Me Kids ( teaches your child social skills on the computer with a wide array of engaging videos for school and play. There are topics like share, say you’re sorry, show interest in others, losing is ok and eye contact.
  • Mangomon ( offers special education resources for young children and teens.

All products are the property of their respective owners. It is highly recommended that you speak to your child’s physicians, educators and therapists to ensure that you select the most appropriate product/services to meet your child’s needs. It is also recommended that you inquire regarding financial assistance for products referenced.

Encourage your local schools to implement this fun inclusion program!Teach all children the acceptance of kids with disabilities…

Are you interested in helping local schools teach the importance of inclusion programs for kids with Down syndrome and other disabilities? Check out the following website that can show you how to help implement this exciting way to teach kids how to help other children with special needs. What a great gift to give to the young people. Visit for details.

Below are links to web sites for resources that can help your child cope with living with disabilities or arthritis.

The Guide to Living with Arthritis by

I Live with a Disability

Below are link s to web sites of additional professional organizations that can help you:

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)

American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)

Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)

Learning Disability Association of America (LDA)

Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA)

Hearing Loss Association of America

My Child ™ at