This past week, I had the opportunity to shadow a self-contained Autism classroom with Kindergarten and First Grade students, as my fourth graders were taking the MCAS. Two of the students in this class have iPads that they use for an assistive device to communicate. On their apps, they have different tabs in association to various categories and activities that they encounter throughout the day. For one student who is nonverbal, he is able to click on the box marked ‘Circle Time’, and he is instantly given different calendar and circle time prompts that can be used to volunteer and answer questions during the discussion to be as involved as his peers are. Through this app, he is also able to spell out words to test his literacy skills, and complete math facts. After observing this class, I was able to see first hand how beneficial assistive technology is.
One comment that I received from the teacher in the classroom is that it requires a decent amount of work on the back-end, to ensure that the students have updated terms and topics pre-loaded into their communication devices. “Often times, we have a running list of topics, terms, and phrases that we need to add to their programs,” she said.