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When you are a Special Education Interium Teacher using technology correctly can be a challenge, but is super important for your students. We have to teach them how to use all kinds of technology, such as computers, ACC devices, and more. It’s important to make sure they are familiar with the basics of technology so they can function properly in the world and are comfortable using it. In this post, we’re going to cover my tips and tricks on technology for SEITs.
I know in the past I’ve gone on and on about how I hate tablets for kids with autism.
And it’s true, I think technology is often misused for children with special needs, but that does not mean we should stop using it. Instead, I think we should refocus how we are using it, and teach children to have a healthy relationship with it.
Technology offers many benefits for children with special needs, such as
- Improved Fine Motor Skills
- Allow for Communication
- Learning Device
- Cultural Awareness
That is why talking about technology for SEITs is so important. So in this post, we’re going to review ways to use technology appropriately during your sessions.
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What is appropriate versus not appropriate
The thing you want to do with your students and technology, particularly with students with autism, is you want to make sure that whatever you are doing pulls them towards you, rather than pushing them away.
Think making them more social rather than encouraging them to go internal.
So if a child is spending endless hours on a tablet or computer and not talking to anyone else, then that’s pushing them away, making them go more internal.
But if you’re playing a game together, watching videos for school, and talking about their thoughts, that’s making them more social. Make the technology a shared experience rather than a solitary thing.
If you’re ever in doubt about if the technology use is appropriate ask yourself if it’s making them more social or not.
Technology for SEITS
Here are some great ways to start using technology in your sessions with your students.
This is particularly wonderful if your students have dyslexia or dysgraphia and struggle with spelling.
Typing allows kiddos to improve fine motor skills, while also giving them access to spell check, which can improve their writing.
Also, it’s just a useful skill to have. These days it’s not even a career skill, considering everyone spends their time on their phones and the internet in their free time. It’s like knowing how to place a phone call.
I use Typing Club because it’s fun and free.
Often if my students have communication needs but otherwise function at an advanced academic level, we’ll use educational videos as part of the lessons.
I know they get sick and tired of hearing my voice all the time, and having variety in speakers can help keep them engaged.
I used to use Crash Course and base my history lessons on what videos I could find that I thought they would find amusing.
This one my kids love because it works on clicking buttons and reading, while also being fun and engaging.
Last year, I made them Create Your Own Adventure slide show, which is a small story that lets them decide what the main character should do.
It’s a cute tale, about a person who falls into a secret chest and has to help a dragon save a unicorn from manticores.
All I have to do for this one is pull up the presentation on google slides, put it in present mode, and we’ve got a few solid minutes of fun reading and deciding.
Kids and I might take turns deciding or they can do it all themselves, depending on if we’re still learning turn-taking or independence. This one is super popular and fun.
If it sounds like too much work though, my Choose Your Path Adventure story is available for purchase.
Another wonderful way to use Youtube is as part of movement breaks. Studies show that kids do better after exercise, and there are tons of great exercise videos on Youtube for children to work on.
I use Just Dance videos on youtube because my students love the songs and have to copy the movements of the coach on the screen.
It’s a wonderfully fun way to get your students to work on body awareness and mirror neurons.
Fine Motor Skills and Body Control
Technology for SEITs can be harder to find for children with fine motor skill problems or severe disabilities.
Tablets host certain apps that can help them learn to point and catch things on the screen, allowing them to begin learning basic motor skills they might need to type or use an ACC device.
I recommend using these sparingly and only at designated times, as they don’t encourage your students to be social, and in too large a dose might be overstimulating.
One app I’ve used to master clicking on a touch screen while using self-control is a fireworks app, that asks students to pop the fireworks without hitting any bombs.
Technology for SEITs might be a difficult thing to balance, but it’s important that our students still have their dose of technology and are aware of how to use it.
Children today are all using the internet and discovering things and fads that they’ll still be talking about when they get older. Allowing your kids to spend time on YouTube and learn to use technology in a fun social way is important for their overall development and social functioning for life.
Even if they might need additional monitoring to ensure there is limited overstimulation, it’s important that children with special needs learn to use technology, so they can reap all the benefits it offers.
For more ideas on what to do with your students make sure to join my email list, so you never miss a post and stay up to date on all my ideas.