The inclusion of special needs children with typically developing peers has become a key service option in preschool special education classrooms (Odom, 2000). Benefits abound, yet inclusion does not present without challenges. Young children with disabilities find it complicated to interact with objects and peers due to obstacles that their disabilities present. A child unable to speak too often goes unheard. Students with limited movement are frequently unable to participate in activities with peers. How can young children with disabilities achieve some degree of independence so that they may interact in their environments without reliance on others?
Assistive technology (AT) can help young children with disabilities fully participate in natural, inclusive learning environments (Sadao & Robinson, 2010). Through the use of AT devices, even the youngest of children are provided opportunities for developmentally appropriate play, movement and communication. In this paper, I will talk about the use of assistive technology to promote young children's participation in preschool learning opportunities. Furthermore, I will discuss a few of the many potential benefits of AT when used within the preschool special education classroom, including: opportunities for play, movement, and communication.
IDEA defines assistive technology as "any item, piece of equipment, or product system whether acquired commercially of the shelf, modified or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities." (Individuals with Disabilities Education ACT (IDEA) 20, USC, Chapter 33, Section 1401 (25) US). According ...
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Technical Assistance ALLIANCE for Parent Centers. (2006). Assistive technology for infants, toddlers, and young children with disabilities. Minneapolis, MN: PACER Center
University at Buffalo Center for Assistive Technology. (2000). Playing with switches: Birth through two. Retrieved March 23, 2012 from http://letsplay.buffalo.edu/toys/playing-with-switches/playing-with-switches.htmf
Wilcox, J., (1999) Assistive technology and early childhood education. Journal of Special Education Technology, 28(3), 63-78
Wilds, M. L. (1989). Effective use of technology with young children. NICHCY News Digest, 13,6-7.
Willis, C. (2009). Creating inclusive learning environments for young children: what to do on Monday morning. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin Press.
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