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Classroom technology for students with autism

technology for students with autism Children that are labeled as autistic are not necessarily disabled. Autism is the ability to view the world through a different style of thinking that isn’t flawed; autistic thinking is simply patterned and structured quite differently than what the norms in our society are set up for. As an example:

Most children will understand through anticipation that every candy bar on the rack is sweet. The autistic child may only understand that the one bar that they have tasted before is sweet – for, who really knows what is inside of those other wrappers? Both children are using intelligent logic in their thought processes. The child with autism is going through a series of logical steps to arrive at a known answer, while the other child is anticipating expected results based upon past experiences.

Today’s technology is often based upon using a series of logical steps to arrive at a known answer. An MP4 player will show a favorite learning movie if specific buttons are pushed. Since visual repetition is a favorite activity for children who enjoy seeing expected results, inexpensive children’s versions of MP4 players and now entering the classroom with some young autistic trend setters. These cheap electronic toys are used as classroom aids, and for the purpose of skyrocketing the child’s popularity at recess. 

Like the more expensive Palm personal digital assistants that some classrooms are beginning to use with older autistic students, the cheap MP4 players have a simple touch screen with icons that younger children can put a finger on instead of a stylus which helps those working on motor skill development. The MP4 players work as an inexpensive way to learn functions before leaping into a more complicated Palm or Blackberry device. At discount electronics stores, cheap MP4 players with 4GB in memory run about 40.00.

MP4 players will hold photos, play learning movies, and allow for voice memo’s to be taken. For children in lower grades, these inexpensive devices can supplement other efforts being made towards learning communications, interactions, association, and task completion techniques. Further, with the cost reasonable, parents or school districts can find a way to wiggle an MP4 player into the budget, while this is not always possible with the more expensive Palm or Blackberry units.

The important things to look for while purchasing an MP4 for an autistic user are larger buttons, a quite volume option for sensitive ears, a touch screen option that fingers will fit onto easily, and an AC adaptor option so that the fun does not have to end while batteries recharge. The unit should come with a USB style of cord for easy access to educational downloads off of the computer. MP4 players come in lots of fun colors that should be considered if your autistic child responds well to a favorite color.


What electronic devices are you aware of besides the one’s already listed?


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One thought on “Classroom technology for students with autism

  • Hmmm…these seem more appropriate for an elementary/middle school setting. Anything you can suggest for high school students (I teach HS math)?


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