Assistive Technology for Supporting Communication, Occupation, and Leisure by Children With Severe to Profound Developmental Disabilities

Assistive Technology for Supporting Communication, Occupation, and Leisure by Children With Severe to Profound Developmental Disabilities

Fabrizio Stasolla (University of Bari, Italy), Viviana Perilli (Lega del Filo d'Oro – Molfetta, Italy) and Adele Boccasini (Lega del Filo d'Oro – Termini Imerese, Italy)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2255-3.ch026
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Background

Two categories of users have been recruited for the aforementioned programs:

  • 1.

    Participants with extensive motor disabilities and normal intellectual functioning, and

  • 2.

    Individuals with severe to profound developmental and multiple disabilities (i.e. a combination of intellectual, motor and sensorial disabilities).

The AT for the first category, implemented for educational and/or rehabilitative purposes, may be useful to improve literacy process (Chiapparino, Stasolla, De Pace, & Lancioni, 2011), instead the interventions for the second category may be focused on the independent access to preferred stimuli or on constructive engagement (Stasolla & Caffò, 2013; Stasolla et al., 2015).

A basic form of AT are the microswitches, that is electronic devices planned to enabling persons with disabilities to control autonomously their environment through the exhibition of small and simple behavioral responses (Holburn, Nguyen, & Vietze, 2004; Mechling, 2006; Saunders et al., 2003). For example, through a pressure microswitch, a child may receive a short listen (e.g. 10 sec) of preferred song, rather than directly switching on the computer or the CD player, not accessible to him/her, considering his/her clinical conditions (Lancioni et al., 2008), or accessible only through the help of caregivers (Lancioni, Singh, et al., 2006). Consequently, they are considered as a great educational and rehabilitative resource (Stasolla & Perilli, 2015).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Microswitches: Electronic devices enabling persons with severe to profound developmental disabilities to independently and autonomously access to positive stimulation.

Social Validation: Assessment of the effectiveness, the impact and the quality of a rehabilitative program, involving parents, teachers, students and/or caregivers external to the proposed intervention as raters.

Quality of Life: Complex psychological construct including well-being, satisfaction, fulfillment and happiness.

Indices of Happiness: Signs of happiness such as smiling, laughing and/or excited body movements usually exhibited by non verbal individuals.

Assistive Technology: Umbrella including any technological device, equipment and/or tool ensuring people with disabilities to better function within their context and/or environment of daily life.

Constructive Engagement: Active and/or positive interaction of individuals with disabilities towards the outside world, enhancing self-determination.

Developmental Disabilities: Cognitive, intellectual, motor and/or sensorial disabilities throughout the life span.

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