There are many different types of assistive technology for speech and language disorders available on the market today. With the range of needs, the technology can help with communicating with others, hearing what others are saying, and emergencies.
There are many other uses for this technology ranging from non verbal autism and ranging across all the other communication disorders that there are.
Assistive technology that is available
These are the main types of assistive technology available:
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC):
These help people with speech and language impairments with language skills and communication. Examples can range from visual aids which include sign language, communication boards, all the way to speech generating devices.
Assistive listening devices (ALD):
These create amplified sound that will transmit sound to the individual and help cut distracting background noise. This would include hearing aids and personal amplifiers to inner cochlear implants that help improve sound transmission to the individual.
Devices that alert
These are devices that make loud sounds and can connect to the telephone or can be a part of an alarm system that can produce a light signal or other alert to the individual to let them know something is happening.
These systems are worn by the individual and use alerting devices connected by using infrared light to amplify sounds. The use of infrared systems cannot transmit through walls making it a good choice when private and sensitive information is being shared because it is a closed system that stays within the hearing aids or inner cochlear implant.
These help cut down on unwanted background noise when some of the other systems may be unavailable like in a car. Devices that are about cell phone size help increase sound while cutting back on unwanted background sounds.
Hearing loop systems
These are also known as induction loop systems where the transmitter converts sound through electromagnetic energy that has four main parts.
Four parts of a hearing loop system include:
- A central source (microphone, television, etc.)
- Sound converter or amplifier
- An array of thin wires that are placed around a room or under the carpet or flooring
- Receiver (headset, etc.)
These systems are able to spread amplified sound through radio signals. These can be used in larger areas, like a presentation, where the presenter uses specialized devices, like a microphone, and the individual has a receiver on a special channel to listen to the speech.
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Which device is the best?
That question is best answered and is dependent on the individual and why they are using the device. Since the devices range from about the size of a cell phone size that the individual can carry up to specialized devices and software programs for those with speech difficulties and hearing loss, it is dependent on why the devices are being used.
This can seem like quite a large decision but can be helped by speech language pathologists, an occupational therapist, and/or your child’s doctor. These professionals are able to make referrals and know what needs to be considered when making this choice.
There are also augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) evaluations that can evaluate an individual’s skill level and needs. These evaluations can be a key point to consider when making this decision.
Takeaways and key points
There are so many different devices available that help support individuals with speech disorders and hearing loss. The needs and services that these technologies provide have a significant range and can be covered by an individual’s insurance and/or school.
I would recommend talking to a speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, or your child’s doctor for recommendations of devices and what they think could benefit the individual based on their needs.
There are AAC evaluations that can be referred and could benefit your child and help aid the search for the device that would best support the individual. These evaluations will take into account what your child does, their skill level, and many other aspects.
Evaluations and referrals are a key and important part that can help pinpoint what device is going to work the best. Also what device will provide the most support and allow for success because the child’s lifestyle and skill level were taken into consideration when searching for the best device.
It is always important to keep communication open between you and your child’s doctor and any other professionals that make up the team the helps with development and support for the individual.
Autism Parenting Magazine does not endorse or promote certain devices, therapies, or services. Those decisions are best made by the individual’s parent and/or guardian and the child’s doctor.
It also helps to connect with other parents and professionals through support groups. Those support groups can be in person or online, social media is another great place to look.
There are so many options and opinions to consider. As long as the information and input are coming from those people that you trust and have had to make the same decisions, it can definitely be beneficial to both the parent and/or guardian and the individual that needs the support device.
It can also help to have training and work with individuals that have had the professional development and experience with the devices and talking to and recommending them. There are typically a myriad of opportunities for parents to receive additional training in their area and can be found in doctor’s or therapist’s offices, at support groups, online and social media. etc.
As always, double check the source of any training or recommendations you receive with your child’s doctor and therapists. Keeping that communication loop open is so important and can make decisions like choosing the device that’s right for your child a lot easier.
Hobbs, K. (2021). Assistive Communication Devices for Children with Autism. https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/assistive-technology-autism/
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication disorders. (2019). Assistive Devices for People with Hearing, Voice, Speech, or Language Disorders. https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/assistive-devices-people-hearing-voice-speech-or-language-disorders