Assistive Technology Do’s and Don’ts

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Do Do Not

Begin with present levels of performance and assessment in all domains.

Put a specific device or system first.

Design goals and objectives, based on the present levels and CONSIDER if any AT would be appropriate in order for the student to meet his or her goals.

Write goals merely based on a device or system. The AT is the TOOL to help attain the goals.

Consider the present levels of performance and the goals/objectives on the IEP regarding specific AT use.

Merely write down that the campus has a computer lab and that the classroom has calculators.

Consider the individual’s present levels and the diagnosis as appropriate to the individual student’s profile, but stick to the student’s individual goals and current needs.

Assume that all students with the same diagnosis need the same AT.

Begin with the “least restrictive” intervention first.

Begin with a laptop if a pencil grip will work. This is not about saving money, but more about doing the “least” first and not adding AT that is not necessary or may make the student feel different.

Work as a team for consideration of AT across settings, activities, and people.

View AT as an isolated therapy or activity. Keep function first. Repetition in a variety of environments is critical.

Develop an action plan for each appropriate IEP team member if a trial of a system or device is agreed upon. Also agree upon how documentation will be collected and when it will be reviewed.

Leave the IEP meeting without a clear plan in place for documentation and timelines.

Conduct a trial and include the consumer whenever possible.

Purchase a device without really researching the features and assume that the student will automatically want to use it.

Get creative!

Rely solely on catalogs for purchasing AT items/systems.

Train staff, family members, and all who will interact with the student using the device or system on the specific features including programming, etc.

Assume that a school system will program or use a device or system just because one has been purchased.

Have a “low-tech” backup for all “high-tech” AT applications.

Rely solely on a “high-tech” system. There will inevitably be times where devices/systems break down, need repair, etc. The individual will still need AT in place in order to participate and meet his/her goals.

Try and try and try again. Modify, adapt, individualize, etc.

Give up! Be sure to document progress and make changes based upon individual student needs. Remember AT that was once considered ineffective may be worth revisiting at a later date based on the readiness of the student.

Consider AT vendors and companies as “experts” in their specific devices and systems. Contact them for product information, customer service, trainings, etc.

Consider an AT evaluation with a specific vendor representing one product/line. This is never advisable.

Conduct an AT evaluation as much as possible in the natural environment. AT trials should also occur in the environment where the student would be accessing the device/systems. An AT evaluation should be an interdisciplinary process and include all the appropriate IEP team members.

Use one isolated evaluation session as completely diagnostic of all AT considerations. A clinic-based evaluation can certainly provide valuable information and directions for IEP teams. However, the use and trial of AT should be conducted in the natural environment along with data collection regarding effectiveness of the AT use.

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