Technology: Front and Center – Guest Blog from Otsimo

Technology: Since its conception, it has sometimes been deemed a force of evil, and more justly, the cause of positive shifts in our life. It is an undisputed fact that we drive technology and in return, it drives us.

From its most primitive concepts to its state-of-the-art applications, technology has a requisite place in our lives. Today, we can rely on technology and technological developments for enhancing the lives of our little heroes with special needs.

How to Use Technology to Help Children with Special Needs

There are a myriad of ways technology can be put to use to help children with special needs. It can be utilized in entertainment and education alike. For children with special needs, technology could be a great tool to achieve goals set for personal development.

Education technologies have been soaring in popularity and development in the past decade. Things that were difficult or unachievable for some students with learning disabilities or speech impediments have become accessible with the use of technology in class.

A child who has difficulty in holding a pencil could greatly benefit from writing on their tablet or computer. Devices and apps like Otsimo are customizable to the needs of the individual in need, creating a much more fitted and fruitful educational environment.

Assistive technologies developed specifically for children with special needs help them in developing skills like reading, writing, speaking, memory and much more.

Technology doesn’t only come in handy with education. Devices and applications developed to improve a child’s motor skills and enable self-improvement are also used widely. It offers fun and entertainment intertwined with educational exercises to have a better impact.

Traditional vs. Modern Solutions

People come from all walks of life. It is not realistic to think there is a single solution or a method that would fit all.

The National Center for Education statistics for 2015-2016 show that the number of students under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which equals to 13% of all public school students, were in need of special education.

This statistic points to the fact that there can’t be a single traditional or a modern solution to address the needs of all students with special needs.

There are many types of disabilities. Students with sensory sensitivities may not benefit from education in the traditional sense. Or as we mentioned before, a child with special needs who has difficulty holding a pencil would need a different solution compared to those with neurotypical development.

As it stands, the variety and diversity of types of disabilities and special needs require tailor-made solutions that are specifically designed to help enable the individual to achieve the best possible outcome.

This is where modern technologies come in the play. Assistive technology can free the individual with special needs from constant supervision and involvement from teachers or parents.

Special technologies developed for specific groups of people, such as children on the autism spectrum, can ensure that the learning process is convenient for the individual. This leads to a more personalized learning.

Assistive technologies reduce the anxiety of children with special needs, helping them realize that they can vastly improve much more easily in an area they used to struggle with. They allow overcoming communication problems and help the child gain academic skills.

Modern Technology Breaks the Barriers

When used effectively, modern technology can break the barriers special needs children face in their education journey.

Technology can help children with special needs in many ways. Some traditional aspects of education may not be achievable for children with special needs. But technology could be used as a tool to overcome such barriers to allow students with special needs to advance themselves in their academic performance.

As humans, we are equipped with many skills and abilities. But these may not come naturally to some groups of people, such as those with autism spectrum disorder.

An autistic child who cannot focus on a task for more than ten minutes would not feel comfortable in a traditional education environment where their attention is required for longer periods of time.

This is where technology that can take people’s ability and enhance it comes in handy. We can teach machines to recognize and synthesize human speech. This would allow for the student with special needs to attend classes where they are required to do visual tasks without constant assistance.

Adaptive computing technology is another tool used widely. In this, digital devices bypass challenging tasks for some.
Augmentative communication systems and devices help students with speech issues to not struggle with communication problems. These use visual aids like picture cards and special functions to enable more effective communication for those struggling with their speech.

How Technology Turns Some Struggles into Strengths

Assistive technologies are devices, equipment or systems that help overcome, work around or compensate for an individual’s learning deficits. Its effectiveness has been confirmed over the past decade with numerous studies.

Although assistive technology is not a cure for special needs children, it can help them reach their goals and potentials. How it does this is through enhancing and capitalizing on their strengths and bypassing the areas of struggles.

Studies have shown that assistive technology can be used to improve skill deficits the child experiences (such as articulation or reading). It compensates for the skills the student is lacking. For instance, a non-verbal child with autism could use Augmentative and Alternative Communication softwares and devices so as to communicate.

In general, assistive technology can decrease the special needs children’s dependence on others to receive education. By helping bypass their deficits in many areas of struggle, assistive technology provides the child with self-reliance. Technology helps them not be dependent on their parents, teachers, siblings and friends with education.

Assistive technology allows children with special needs to achieve success and reach their potential. Otsimo operates on this foundation. Both Otsimo Special Education and Otsimo Speech Therapy focus on breaking the barriers with scientific approach and help turn the struggles into strengths. With the support of assistive technology, children with disabilities or disorders find the apps intuitive and easy to use. Combined with engaging content, they will enjoy learning by themselves.

Ways Technology is Helpful in Everyday Life

With advancements in technology, what used to be inaccessible became a part of the everyday life of those with special needs.

Things that humans cannot do are now automated with the assistance of technologies like machine learning. This allowed those with special needs to overcome barriers they face in their daily lives.

Voice recognition, endless repetition, augmentative and assistive technology and many more help children with special needs achieve their goals. These technologies are now more accessible than ever.

What makes this great is that children with special needs who need on-the-spot assistance can get it at that moment. Today, an app developed to provide education to children with autism can be found on our smartphones, ready to be used anytime, anywhere.

Apps like Otsimo can help children with autism and with special needs gain math and reading skills, teach them how to articulate properly. With the help of assistive technology, those who have difficulty with processing and remembering spoken language can learn how to listen; at home, in class, or anywhere they like.

Technologies developed specifically to address such issues can help children with special needs and their parents or guardians in a myriad of manners. What used to be an insurmountable challenge for your kid can now be a matter of daily practice.

It can be difficult to raise a child with special needs. But we believe that every child has the potential to achieve great many things with the right help. Technology can help your child achieve their goals and be independent.

Thank you to Otsimo for this guest blog post on the role technology can play in enhancing the lives of children with special needs. Otsimo, an app specifically designed for children with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities, has developed more than 50 games with educators and families and created a free open source AAC communication tool for nonverbal children in different languages. Check out their website for more information, including how founder Zafer Elcik was inspired by his autistic brother to create Otsimo.

Published by

Amy Nielsen

Amy Nielsen is a former children's librarian of nearly twenty years. She now spends most of her time obsessively pounding on a keyboard. She is the author of It Takes a Village: How to Build a Support System for Your Exceptional Needs Family, Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder. Her upcoming YA Worth it debuts in May of 2024. She is also a freelance writer for The Autism Helper. When she's not writing, she and her family are most likely crusing the waters of Tampa Bay.