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Assistive Technology: An Effective Tool for the LD Child
By Melissa Katz, M.S.

Types of AT Tools
There are three main types of Assistive Technology tools: no tech/low tech, medium tech, and high tech. No tech/low tech tools include Graphic Organizers and Outlines, Text Magnifiers, Text Highlighters, Large Print Books, Timing. Medium tech tools include Personal FM Tuner listening system, Hand-held Electronic Dictionary-thesaurus, Text Highlighters, Tape Recorder, Books on Tape, Calculator. High tech tools include Word Scribe,  Text to speech software, Speech to text software, Word prediction software, Keyboard software, Mind-mapping software, Talking calculator, Talking Dictionary/ thesaurus, Talking worksheets.

As an Educational Therapist, I use many materials and approaches, including multi-sensory……….. In addition, I use assistive technology because it works wonders for my students with learning disabilities. One of them, a fourth grade student with learning disabilities, including dyslexia and language processing, had great difficulty with organizing thoughts and with writing.  I used a low tech graphic organizer to help her structure her ideas. Then, I used high tech text to speech software, grammar and spell check software, and word prediction software. I provided her with a regular dictionary and thesaurus, an electronic one, and word lists for writing. With regular skill-building along with the use of AT,  she now is able to write a lot faster and with much more confidence.

Advantages
I have not found Assistive Technology to have any negative effects. Instead, there are many advantages for a child with learning disabilities.

  • Greater independence

Many students who have learning disabilities become dependent on parents, friends, teachers, and siblings for help with assignments. AT enables an LD child to work on grade level at home and at school with little need for adult help.

  • Motivation to learn

The right assistive learning tools can make learning fun, and can help the child perform academic tasks that he or she was formerly unable to accomplish, or had great difficulty accomplishing.  It can help her use her strengths to work faster and with greater ease. All of this can make the child look forward to learning. 

  • Assistive technology helps the child to compensate in areas of difficulty and to work faster.  This  can result in more success in completing  assignments,  which can be very rewarding.

Who Can Benefit
Assistive technology can aid any child with weaknesses in cognitive, sensory, language, and academic skills. It can help the child who struggles with: Memory, Organization, Listening, Language Processing, Visual Processing, Spelling, Writing, Reading, and Math. It does not eliminate learning disabilities. Nor is it meant to replace other support services or interventions, such as speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and educational therapy. However, it is most effective when used along with the appropriate interventions and skill-building. AT can also be used in the child’s classroom and at home.

It is important that a child be matched with the assistive technology for his or her particular needs. Once the right AT is set up for the child, he/she needs to be trained in how to use it properly. The child will also require ample practice with some supervision before using AT independently.

If you are the parent or teacher of a child with learning disabilities, it is really good to be informed about current Assistive Technology as it continues to change and improve. AT can make learning an easier and much more enjoyable experience for your child.

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