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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD): Common Assistive Technologies

This guide provides resources on autism spectrum disorders.

What are assistive technologies?

The Technology Related Assistance to Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988 described an assistive technology device as "any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities."

Assistive technologies can be "high tech" and "low tech:" from canes and lever doorknobs to voice recognition software and augmentative communication devices (speech generating devices).

Communication Skills

People who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may experience a wide variety of communication difficulties. Some people with ASD may be totally non-verbal and some may have difficulties understanding social cues or appropriate conversation topics. The following assistive technologies may assist those with ASD with communication.

Speech Generating Devices

A speech-generating device is "a portable that contains one or more panels or switches that when depressed will activate pre-recorded digitized or synthesized speech output." These may be a standalone device, usually very small and light, or it can be software that is installed in a tablet or phone.

Social Skills

People on the autism spectrum can have a hard time with social skills that may come easily to those who are not on the spectrum. Some caregivers or those on the spectrum may choose to try to develop those social skills with technology and methods that can help individuals recognize facial and behavioral cues that can help social functioning. Two examples of these methods include video modeling and script training, where individuals learn pro-social behaviors based on imitation. Individuals can learn these skills in games like the following:

Daily Living Skills

In order to function independently, daily living skills such hygiene, organization skills, and recreational skills are important. Caregivers can help those with ASD with these skills, but individuals with ASD can also develop these skills and independence. It is important to remember that ASD occurs in a wide spectrum and that some with ASD might never have problems functioning independently, while others may need more assistance. Life skills can be taught through instruction and presentations, and also through special software like

Employees with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Finding Assistive Technology