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Spring Introduction The crucial role played by assistive devices and technology in enabling individuals with disabilities to participate in age appropriate activities within home, school, and community settings has been recognized through several changes in federal policy.
First, the reauthorization of P. It was found that assistive technology AT plays a key role in enabling infants and young children to develop the skills they need to learn and grow. Early assistive technology devices and services include switches, augmentative alternative communication devices, and assistive technologies for mobility, microcomputers, and adaptation of play materials.
For, example a flexible drinking straw is not generally viewed as a form of technology by the typical person, and instead may be viewed just as a convenience for drinking purposes. But, for a young child with a physical disability who cannot grasp and tilt a cup to drink from it, the straw provides a means for performing a functional daily living skill.
In general, then assistive technologies may be considered life necessities by those individuals with disabilities who use those Williams, Functionally, assistive technology is intended to support and enhance an individual's development, learning, independence, productivity, and participation in daily activities.
For young children, this means identifying areas in which the child is experiencing challenges e. A preliminary study National Council on Disability, surveyed individuals with disabilities to evaluate the costs and benefits associated with the use of different kinds of technology-related assistance.
The individuals were from four age groups and the results indicate a significant impact of AT on many aspects of the respondents lives, including: Among elderly persons, half were able to avoid entering a nursing home.
These results indicate that the issue becomes not how can we afford effective AT, but what costs is involved if it is not provided. Mobility wheelchairs, scooters ; Electronic communication i. On its face, this contrasts markedly with infants and young children who are very dependent on their parents and do not earn a livelihood.
However, independence and social competence do not t arise full-blown at adulthood.
Infants and young children may not be regarded as having functions in life that compel the use of assistive technology. But for example, non-disabled babies 4 to 8 months of age may bat at a mobile repeatedly. When they first bat, they hit the mobile by accident, and it moves.
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They notice it moves, they bat purposefully, and eventually cause the mobile to move again. They take this learning, generalize it, and cause other things to move with actions of their bodies. These are the functional capabilities expected at this age, and how higher level functional capabilities are acquired.
What would happen if this child had severe motor impairments? When she attempts to bat at a mobile, she misses it, or hits it on an inconsistent basis. The baby soon tires and gives up.
At birth, infants have very few functional capabilities as we typically think of them. They are completely dependent on their parents or caregivers. But they are genetically and biologically endowed with developmental capacities in six major domains: These capacities enable the very young to experience their own selves, their environment, and the people in them, and lead to maturation, development, and learning.
Acquisition of individual skills and the development of capacities in each of the domains take on added importance.
This is not just because the capability itself is immediately useful to the child but because the integration of those skills across domains serves as a foundation that gives rise to higher level competence and independence Solano, Aller, In developmental terms, children who because of their disabilities miss acquiring foundational skills do not develop a foundation for achieving higher level functions and learning higher level concepts.
Furthermore, research show that in the first decade of life before puberty there are critical times for optimal development of specific types of learning. The implications for assistive technology for infants and young children are clear.
So last few years one vitally important component of early intervention programs was the introduction of technology to all children as soon as possible. Technology, if successfully integrated, will allow these children to better manage their lives and to interact more fully and more meaningfully with ideas and with others in their environment Gilbert, The potential success of a "connected" education that involves not only students, but parents, future educators, instructors, caregivers, members of the community, families and local service providers is virtually limitless.
Early intervention through a collaborative team approach should provide the incentive, stimulation and support necessary for these children to succeed later in life.
Many of the skills learned in life begin in infancy and AT can help infants and toddlers with disabilities learn many of these crucial skills.
In fact, with assistive technology they can usually learn the same things that non-disabled children learn at the same age only in a different way. First of all there are two types of AT devices most commonly used by infants and toddlers —switches and augmentative communication devices.
Switches There are many types of switches that can be used in many different ways.A popular view exists that to correct the problems of our educational systems, we have to get back to basics and mainly concentrate our efforts on the three “Rs”—reading, 'riting and 'attheheels.com highly skilled in the three Rs is of great value and importance, that is true.
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