Assistive Technology for Students with Down Syndrome

Instructor: April Gwen Ellsworth

April has a master's degree in psychology and has experience teaching special populations from preschoolers to adults.

Assistive technology can be a tremendous help in facilitating learning and breaking down barriers in the classroom. Here you will learn about various types of assistive technology for students with Down syndrome and their benefits.

Assistive Technology & Down Syndrome

For the student with Down syndrome, assistive technology includes any type of device, equipment, adaptations, or materials that improve his/her ability to learn and make tasks easier to complete. Assistive technology fosters independence and autonomy. It can be as simple as a slanted writing surface or as sophisticated as learning software and adaptive computer equipment.

Down syndrome students experience delays with cognitive processing so it typically takes them longer to complete tasks than their classmates. Inclusion in the regular classroom is very important, however, and requires the need for learning aids and modifications for the Down syndrome student.

The right types of assistive technology for each student is best determined with a multidisciplinary approach. A team of professionals that includes the child's parents, medical professionals, special and regular education teachers, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, and at times product consultants work together to select the best assistive technology choices for each child's individual needs.

Benefits

Assistive technology offers distinct advantages to Down syndrome students, including the following:

  • Supports visual learners and provides multi-sensory learning experiences
  • Allows for non-verbal and non-written responses
  • Gives students greater control over their learning process and allows self-pacing
  • Provides immediate feedback
  • Facilitates added practice of skills in an enjoyable way
  • Places the focus on succeeding, not failing or putting forth unnecessary efforts
  • Adapts computers and activities to almost any skill level
  • Provides an organized, clutter-free work space

Examples

The following ideas - although by no means a complete list - are examples of assistive technology that can be helpful in particular to students with Down syndrome. Let's take a look at some of these examples now.

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