Magazine article Distance Learning

Assistive Technology: Enhancing the Life Skills of Students with Learning Disabilities

Magazine article Distance Learning

Assistive Technology: Enhancing the Life Skills of Students with Learning Disabilities

Article excerpt


The goal of this study was to explore and report how behavior therapists and applied behavior analysts used data derived from the Child Behavioral Checklist (CBCL) and the Parent-Infant Relationship Global Assessment Scale (PIRGAS) to prescribe assistive technology to increase the overall psychological wellbeing of early childhood students, ranging in age from 3 to 5 years. The CBCL is a tool that parents, teachers, clinicians, and therapists who know the child rate a child's problem behaviors and competencies (Achenbach, 1991). The PIR-GAS is a scale of infant-parent relationship adaptation, raging from "well-adapted" to "dangerously impaired" (Aoki, Zeanah, Heller, & Bakshi, 2002, p. 493). Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is an active ingrethent that assists preschool aged students to develop creativity and learn basic skills, such as speaking, listening, controlling emotions, et cetera. In this study, applied behavior analysis was conducted using assistive technology (AT) to enhance the learning and life skills of clients with learning disabilities. AT can help autistic children achieve their highest potential regardless of their inborn abilities (Hasselbring & Glaser, 2000; Smaldino, Lowther, & Russell, 2008; Tinker, 2001).


In the field of instructional technology (IT), special education, and in ABA, the varying definitions of AT are as follows: (a) "Any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities" (Assistive Technology Act, 2004, p. Y); (b) devices and software designed specifically for those with learning or physical disabilities (Smaldino, Lowther, & Russell, 2008); and (c) AT has powerful tools that support physically challenged students with equal opportunities to more fully participate in the teaching-learning process (Hager & Smith, 2003).

In this study, the researcher takes each definition into account and focuses on studying the impact of the computer, mediating hardware, and software used by disabled students in learning environment. The research suggests that students that use AT display positive effects for psychological health when compared to other children in the program who do not use AT (Cavanaugh, 2002; Hasselbring & William-Glaser, 2000; Khek, Lim, & Zhong, 2006; Smaldino et al., 2008, 2012). Moreover, this body of research refers to the IT devices as a system of positive reinforcement used to help students learn. In this study the use of AT plays an important role in behavior management and enhancement of life skills for the overall education of students with learning disabilities.


In the areas of applied behavior analysis and special education, there are sets of technologies and computerized equipment that are used to assist children in the learning process. The list of technological devices and/or assistive technology used by behavior therapists as a treatment for children with special needs includes simple magnifiers, pointers, alternative input/ output devices, touch screens, voice recognition systems, graphic organizing software, and special cognitive software (Khek et al., 2006).

In this study, the treatment group used AT to improve language and motor delays in children 3 to 5 years of age. Evaluating researchers have documented that, when AT is used for children with special needs, properly designed instruction contributes enormously to its effectiveness, especially in the case of autism (Cavanaugh, 2002; Smaldino et al, 2008). When used correctly for students with special needs, AT tends to create a learning environment that promotes enhanced operant procedures, positive self-growth, increased motor skills, and effective oral communication (Cavanaugh, 2002; Khek et al. …

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