Technology Examples for Autism

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In second grade I started at a new school. I had to meet new people and make new friends of course but there was one person in particular, that I met at my new school. I had never met anyone with autism before and at that age, I did not know what autism was. This little boy was the nicest child in our class, everyone loved him even though he was different and had his rough patches. He was high on the spectrum, but he participated in normal classes with us. At recess, everyone wanted to play with him, at lunch, everyone wanted to sit with him, and even in class, everyone made sure he was succeeding like the rest of us. One day, he excitedly told us he had to get his tonsils removed. He was gone for a week or two and none of us kids had any second thoughts about it. One day, the principal brought our whole grade into the library to talk to us. Our principal had told us that our friend had passed away, that something had gone wrong with his surgery. We never really thought about how great of a friend he was until we only had our memories to remind us.

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Even though our friend had autism, he still lived a normal life and had friends just like everyone else. Autism does not stop people from attending school and succeeding in life. ASD or autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disorder in which impairments in social interaction, communication, and repeated behaviors are expressed (Wiggins, Levy, et al.). According to the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, the CDC or, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, currently estimates that an average of 1 in 68 children from multiple US communities has an ASD. We are told that the youngest confirmed diagnosis of ASD is 4.4 years old (Wiggins, Levy, et al.). In other words, ASD is a very common disorder among children in the US. There are a few factors that cause autism, there are noticeable symptoms, and there are assistive technologies to help children with autism strive through school.

There are a few factors that are said to cause autism such as short birth spacing, which means, the amount of time between births, or using assistive reproductive technology. Autism spectrum disorder and birth spacing, tells us that “Children conceived less than 18 months after their mother’s previous birth or children conceived 60 or more months after their mother’s previous birth were more likely to have ASD when compared to children conceived between 18 to 59 months after their mother’s previous birth”. The linkage between birth spacing and ASD is unique because there is no link to birth spacing and any other developmental disabilities (Schieve, Tian, et al.). This means that short birth spacings only major effect on a child is that there is a higher chance for them to develop an ASD rather than a child who was conceived after that sixty-month period.

Another factor that could cause ASD is ART or, assisted reproductive technology. When using ART to conceive a child a person is not conceiving the normal way, they are using different methods that doctors offer. When conceiving a child with ART, that child is two times more likely to be diagnosed with ASD than a child who was conceived naturally (Fountain, Zhang, et al.). Research tells us that the reasons why the likelihood of ASD is higher if using ART to conceive are because a person is more likely to have more than one child, they are more likely to give birth too early, or the child could be birthed too small (Fountain, Zhang, et al.). The American Journal of Public Health states that “among children conceived using ART, about 0.8% of those born as singletons (only one baby carried during the pregnancy) and about 1.2% of those born as a twin or multiple were diagnosed with ASD”. More research is underway to find exactly why there is a linkage between ART and ASD but it is suggested that doing a single embryo transfer could lower the risk of ASD occurring with the use of ART. Knowing what causes autism is equally as important as knowing what the symptoms or, signs, are.

Knowing how to spot the signs of autism is an important thing to learn. Some signs include difficulty in communicating, having a hard time developing relationships, or having repetitive speech or actions. Other characteristics of autism can include concentration problems, problems with attention, activity levels, a risk of anxiety or mood disorders, and learning difficulties. Examples of concentration and attention issues include hyperactivity, short attention span, highly likely to act on impulse, and selective attention. Examples of anxiety disorders in a child with ASD include self-injury behavior, limiting their diet, eating items that are inedible, and expressing obsessive-compulsive disorder. Signs of learning disabilities include grades changing drastically, and not good with reading or comprehending things. Gargiulo states that about just thirty percent of children with ASD have some type of intellectual impairment which is believed to be the cause of early intervention.

There are assessments that can be administered to decide what level of function a child is at. The diagnosis of ASD includes two steps. The first is a screening that helps identify children who need to have a more thorough evaluation and a surveillance, which basically means that doctors will monitor a child to see if they show signs of a developmental disability. The second step is a comprehensive evaluation which includes, clinical and educational observations, caregiver interviews, developmental histories, psychological testing, speech and language assessments. Administering these tests helps doctors decide whether a child has a type of ASD or not, which could lead to testing for other developmental disabilities. After deciding whether that specific child has ASD doctors and professionals can move on to help them receive the correct education and assistive help if necessary. Assistive technology has been created to help children with developmental disabilities, like autism, receive the education they deserve.

Assistive technology means exactly what it says, “any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or to improve the education and abilities of a child with a disability”. Each child that is given an assistive technology device has some type of intellectual disability. There are devices and tools for reading, writing, mathematics, and some other academic areas. For reading, seating, positioning, mobility, having options for alternative communication, computer access, educational toys and games, adaptive environments, and having instructional aids in the classroom are all important devices in helping children succeed. Some low tech examples to help reading are using highlighters, highlighter tape, or even highlighter strips. For high tech devices, computer programs are offered that read text aloud to students. (Gargiulo, 2018). For writing, low tech examples would be using pencil grips teaches children how to hold their pencil correctly, using raised lined paper, whiteboards, and even gel boards.

For higher-tech students can use computer programs that help with writing correctly such as, Inspiration or Cmap Tools . For mathematics, there are a few different devices that range from high to low tech that help in the classroom. Some of these ideas are having concrete manipulatives, having calculators, computer access, and fixed instruction. Assistive technology devices range from using paper and pencil to using technology and each of these devices are important and helpful to students with learning disabilities. There are many different factors that cause autism, ways characterize it, many different signs, and ways to help children with this learning disability. Technology and education is growing every day. With these growing, it increases the chances of help for children who live with autism, in life and with their education.

Autism spectrum disorder is very common among children in the United States. There are a few factors that cause autism, there are noticeable symptoms, and there are assistive technologies to help children with autism strive through school. Autism is caused by a few different factors such as, conceiving a child before 18 months after the child before that is born and using assistive reproduction technology. These factors may be unavoidable at times which raises your chance of having a child with autism. Some signs of autism are lack of communication, lack of social skills, self- harm behavior, learning problems, and even obsessive-compulsive disorder. ASD is a disorder that a person can live with and in some cases, have a normal functioning life. Children with autism may need a little extra help in school or in social situations but they are still children who know how to play, how to be happy, and have feelings. After a child undergoes the testing to be diagnosed for ASD, it will decide how much help a child will need in school and what extra steps that may need to be taken to help this child succeed.

Once it is decided how well this child is able to function, professionals will decide what help will be necessary. Schools offer assistive technology to students who may need it and these devices are helpful to each student who uses them. Each child with an ASD is unique and learns at different rates. Each assistive technology device is made to aid each child with each unique problem that they may have in school. These assistive technology devices continue to grow and improve to accommodate for the children who need it. Scientists are learning new things about autism every day, it is only natural that technology grows as well. Children with autism spectrum disorder can be high to low functioning but no matter the degree, it is important to know the signs and technology to help these children succeed in school and in life.

References

  1. Fountain, C., Zhang, Y., Kissin, D. M., Schieve, L. A., Jamieson, D. J., Rice, C., & Bearman, P. (2015). Association Between Assisted Reproductive Technology Conception and Autism in California, 1997–2007. American Journal of Public Health, 105(5), 963–971.
  2. Gargiulo, R. M., & Bouck, E. C. (2018). Special education in contemporary society: An introduction to exceptionality. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications.
  3. Prizant, Barry M., and Thomas Fields-Meyer. Uniquely Human: a Different Way of Seeing Autism. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2016.
  4. Schieve, L. A., Tian, L. H., Drews?Botsch, C. , Windham, G. C., Newschaffer, C. , Daniels, J. L., Lee, L. , Croen, L. A. and Danielle Fallin, M. (2018), Autism spectrum disorder and birth spacing: Findings from the study to explore early development (SEED). Autism Research, 11: 81-94.
  5. Wiggins, L. D., Levy, S. E., Daniels, J., Schieve, L., Croen, L. A., DiGuiseppi, C., … Schendel, D. (2015). Autism Spectrum Disorder Symptoms Among Children Enrolled in the Study to Explore Early Development (SEED). Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 45(10), 3183–3194. 
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