Thursday, January 23, 2014

Reheating old food for thought...

I have had the opportunity today to meet with several thoughtful professionals who are in the process of developing an Assistive Technology Team for a small rural school system here in North Carolina. I enjoy these meetings for several reasons. One, such discussions require that I take a closer look at my own work processes, and theoretical models.  Another reason is that with new programs and new people come new ideas and solutions.

One topic which we delved into is how do we determine "if someone get's new tech?" 

It's about the goals!
And again, we returned to the notion that "goals must drive technology". As an Occupational Therapist I was taught that a 'client-centered' evaluation informed the goals. The goals then informed the interventions.  The interventions 'should' then create the outcomes that were needed based on the evaluation.

Really, it's circular, and the same concept can be applied here with Assistive Technology.

The logic above protects us from just handing out technology because it's new and cool. If Johnny is struggling with the writing process, his IEP goals should be about writing. A possible intervention might be a dictation to scribe, raised line paper, word-processor, word-prediction software, or a laptop.

If Jill struggles with basic communication, her goals should be about functional communication.  A possible intervention may be a PODD, communication cards, Step-by-step, iTouch, or Dynavox.

I would not have a goal that spoke to Johnny or Jill mastering a word-prediction program, or using an iTouch, but I may have a short term objective addressing some of those component level skills.

As a team we are interested in what goal might require technology? We are interested in what modalities have the professionals tried already? What kind of progress is the student making towards their goals? If there are a number of proven but untried interventions we may ask the team to try such strategies first. Also, if the student is making progress on their progress reports, then likely, they don't need a layer of technology in their school life.

I'm interested in other folks thoughts on this subject. Anyone else care to weigh in?

Happy Therapy!


  1. Another perspective: goals certainly should address the needs of the student. Functional goals are equally important; if a child uses an iPad or other device at home, he/she should also have practice on that device at school--whether the school system provides it or the parent does. Some technologies are better at preparing students for life after school than others: a tablet can be more useful than 2-3 separate devices (calculator, tape recorder, aug/comm).

  2. Thanks for your insight Anonymous! I agree that functional goals are also very important, and often have a place on the school IEP.