Technologies to Aid Special Needs Kids in Distance Learning

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The introduction of distance learning for most children has been nothing but chaos for many families. However, it has been especially difficult for families with special needs kids. For example, children with autism require strong schedules from day to day that they can rely on. Getting up early in the morning for breakfast, going to school, learning, talking to their friends, going back home, doing homework, and then relaxing with the family.

The coronavirus infection has put an end to all of this. Only a small percentage of kids, which are most likely phlegmatic in their nature, have been dealing with distance learning pretty well. All other children cannot keep their studies on the right track and seriously miss all the socialization they received from going to school.

To help special kids in this situation, certain businesses decided to develop apps and small devices. Because distance learning is still only in its beginning phases of development, many people feel the need to contribute to its development and try improving the experience for everyone.

Nonverbal Communication over the Web

One group of special needs kids who struggle pretty badly with distance learning is the children who are nonverbal or minimally verbal. In real life, such kids are taught to communicate via AAC (Alternative Augmentative Communication). AAC instruments can range from an AI text to speech generator like Stephen Hawking had to using a pen and paper to communicate with drawings.

Distance learning is very limited in its AAC options. The communication between people is usually not live when it’s text-based communication, and there are basically no options for graphical communication. This can feel very isolating for the special needs kids, and it’s why a company iTherapy is working on a live, text communication application with the option for graphical communication.

Time and Goal Management

Special needs kids can often have a lot of trouble keeping up with their assignments and staying on track in studying. Well, there’s an easy-to-use, wearable gadget called Goally – it’s a device that you can program beforehand to set activities and goals for the day. The device will issue out prompts and reminders to the child, making sure they stay on track.

With Goally, every special need kids can realize their full potential of being a great academic essay writer and just a well-performing student. What’s great is that Goally incorporates a reward-based system for successfully completed tasks. The rewards range from a trip to McDonald’s to watching an episode of their favorite show.

Goally allows parents to step away from continuous micromanagement of their children and simultaneously improve their kids’ self-sufficiency. The biggest advantage of Goally over other, free application alternatives is that it’s a real device, it’s tactile – special needs kids respond much better to it.

Reading Aid

Many special needs children have either dyslexia or even cerebral palsy, which significantly affect their ability to read and take in textual information. Luckily for them, there is a government-backed, free database of books called Bookshare. It provides its users with audio, braille, and large font books completely free of charge.

Another great option for children who have trouble reading is the VarsityTutors application. It’s an online-based system that allows gathering children with similar knowledge levels and identical impairments to create study groups. Due to the fact that special needs kids with the same disabilities are not concentrated in certain geographical areas but rather scattered throughout the US, VarsityTutors makes it easy for special needs kids to find study groups with similarly-abled students.

Boosting Creativity

Then there’s the question of how to relax from learning and put it aside if you’re doing it at home in your room.  Some special needs children have this issue of dividing their time, separating learning and just being at home. For such children, the game company Osmo creates physical learning environments.

These physical learning games are perfect for relaxing, and taking a break from long hours behind the computer, trying to learn new ideas and concepts. Osmo usually produces kits in which the child decides the rules of this small world. The child is encouraged to create and build whatever they like, which has shown previously to positively affect the social interaction and desire to self-express of the special needs kids.

Improving Distance Learning

Although distance learning has a long way to go before being able to substitute traditional, in-class learning completely, it’s constantly being improved upon by companies from around the world. With so much devotion to amending distance learning, it has a lot of potential for becoming a great option for learning.

Tech Digest Correspondent