"What specific technology is available to help the Aspergers student in school, especially one with gross/fine motor issues?"
Like most children, those with Asperger’s and High-Functioning Autism have a strong interest in computers and video technology. As a result, both computers and video recording should be integrated into the academic curriculum for a child with Asperger’s. The technology of computers and video recording will provide the student with a consistent form of learning, as well as being entertaining.
Computers- Computers now have hardware that can be adapted to the needs of a child with Asperger’s. These devices will help the child focus on computer-generated tasks, and they increase a child’s motor skills.
Computers with touch windows give the child the ability to navigate through a program with ease. In addition, the child can interact with a program without having to rely on a computer mouse. A touch screen decreases the hardware required to operate the computer, and the child can directly relate his or her actions to the action shown on the computer screen.
The standard computer keyboard can be replaced by an alternative keyboard known as Big Keys. This is a keyboard that has been designed for younger children, and each key is one-inch square. In addition, the letters are color coded to assist the child in finding a specific letter. For example, vowels and consonants are color coded separately. The Big Keys keyboard is produced by Greystone Digital, and their website can be accessed at www.bigkeys.com
Video Technology- A child with Asperger’s will enjoy video technology due to the repetitive nature and predictability of video recording. Repeated viewing of a video results in learning a variety of skills and knowledge.
Video technology can teach writing skills (e.g., letters, words, sentences) as well as language comprehension skills (e.g., syntax, object names, shapes, sizes). Also, task-oriented behavior, such as closing a door or making a bed, can be taught with a step-by-step video demonstration.
It is important to note that the technology found in computers and video recording need to be tailored to an Asperger's child. Some of the basic concepts of the computer, such as typing and disc storage, might need to be slowly and patiently explained and demonstrated. In addition, a video camera needs to be focused and adjusted before use. A child with Asperger's will want to push buttons or turn lenses at random. Video recording needs to be taught very slowly so that the child acquires knowledge and mastery over the tasks and doesn’t experience frustration.
An Asperger's child is an individual and any learning experience must be individualized to meet the child’s needs. Using computer and video technology will contribute to independent functioning and decrease the child’s reliance on other people to complete a learning task. Above all, when teaching any child a step-by-step process, the adult must be patient with the child’s learning process and also be willing to explain the mistakes that a child might make while mastering a learning task.