Planning for a Few Children
As you continually observe and assess the children in the classroom, it may become clear that a few children need a third and more intensive level of support in order to be successful, fully engaged, and active partners in the early childhood classroom. These children, who may have a moderate to severe level of disability and who have not been meeting the learning goals as expected, will benefit from the further planning that it takes to incorporate some higher-level accommodations and modifications in the environment, the curriculum, and instructional strategies.
Use the tabs below to access information that may help you provide extra support
to children with disabilities.They may also benefit by using assistive technologies
of one type or another.
Assistive technology (AT) includes many types of devices, objects, software, and so on that allow children with disabilities to more fully or independently participate in conversations, activities, and routines in many different settings. AT can be as "low tech" as a pillow used to keep a child in the desired position, a picture-choice board to support communication, or a large grip to help a child hold a pencil, or it can be "high tech" as a power wheelchair or voice output device.
An item can only be considered assistive technology when it is identified for a child with a disability through an Individualized Education Plan. An assistive technology tool used by one child with an IEP could be used by a second child because it is helpful, it is motivating, or the child likes it. But if the second child doesn't need
it, it is considered instructional technology or simply another tool for the child to use; in this case, it is not an AT device. A simplified way of thinking about assistive technology is this: If a child can't do the task without the device/tool/software/support, then it is assistive technology for that child and should be documented in the child's IEP.
Choosing and utilizing AT for children in your classroom may seem to be a daunting task, but in truth, it can be easier than you think. AT consideration and assessment should be a team process and should include family members and people with specific knowledge such as a physical or occupational therapist for motor issues or a speech-language pathologist for communication issues. The following web-based resources offer in-depth information for teachers and families that can assist in the clarification, evaluation, and implementation of assistive technology.
For a glimpse of AT at work in a preschool classroom, watch as a preschool class plays the game red light, green light
with the help of a classmate.
Assistive Technology: The Legal Definitions
IDEA 2004 defines assistive technology as both devices and services.
Assistive Technology Device:
Assistive technology devices are identified in the IDEA 2004 as:
"Any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of children with disabilities.
The term does not include a medical device that is surgically implanted, or the replacement of such device."
(Authority 20 U.S.C. 1401(1))
Assistive Technology Service:
As defined in IDEA, an assistive technology service is:
"Any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, and use of an assistive technology device. The term includes
(a) The evaluation of the needs of a child with a disability, including a functional evaluation of the child in the child's customary environment;
(b) Purchasing, leasing, or otherwise providing for the acquisition of assistive technology devices by children with disabilities;
(c) Selecting, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, applying, retaining, repairing, or replacing assistive technology devices;
(d) Coordinating and use other therapies, interventions, or services with assistive technology devices, such as those associated with existing education and rehabilitation plans and programs;
(e) Training or technical assistance for a child with a disability or, if appropriate, that child's family; and
(f) Training or technical assistance for professionals (including individuals or rehabilitation services), employers, or other individuals who provide services to employ, or are otherwise substantially involved in the major life functions of children with disabilities."
(Authority 20 U.S.C. 1401(2))
AT Professional Publications, Articles, and Informational Resources
Resources for Assistive Technology Assessment
Assistive Technology Training Modules for Early Childhood
Vendor Resources for Adapted Toys
Classroom AT Resources
AT Toys for Children with Disabilities
- Able Play
- Toys-R-Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids
- Lekotek: General Play Ideas and Information Section has links to very good low-tech ideas.
- Boardmaker Resources. All these resources have been created using the Boardmaker program. For some resources you need to have the Boardmaker program; others have been saved in pdf format so they can be printed.
- Boardmaker Share is the Mayer-Johnson Company's sharing site where people share tons of Boardmaker resources. You need to create a free account to access the site and must have Boardmaker to use the resources. Over 9,000 activities are tagged Pre-K to K.
- Spectronics has a variety of interactive activities designed for Boardmaker Plus to download.
- Spectronics also has activities designed for Boardmaker to print.
- Miami-Dade Pre-K Program: Prekindergarten . . . the Right Beginning has downloads of Boardmaker communication boards, stories, schedules and routines. You need Boardmaker to use these.
- New York City Department of Education, Special Education District 75 has a large number of adapted books. Some are in Boardmaker format, and some are in pdf.
- Jefferson Parish Public School System's SpeechTherapy site has adapted stories, communication boards, recipes, Bingo boards, and more. Some are in Boardmaker format, and others are in pdf.
- The Orange County Schools Assistive Tech Team has posted a number of resources in Boardmaker format.
- The Grant Wood Area Education Agency has a large number of adapted storybook overlays on its site. You need Boardmaker to open these.
- Thematic Visual Supports wiki from FDLRS. You need Boardmaker to use these files.
REC Added Two Inclusive Classroom Bookshelf Sets
Do you wish you could find more picture books for your classroom that reflect your inclusive philosophy? Look at the REC Bookshelf