Assistive Technology

Assistive technology means “any equipment purchased …off the shelf or custom made, that is used to improve function in persons with disabilities” (Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988). Simple technology can be used to assist with skills (e.g. modified eating utensils). Complex technology can substitute or replace abilities that do not exist (e.g. power chairs for walking or electronic speech aids for talking). Learning to use the equipment may include education from a therapist or teacher, depending on the technology. Assistive Technology may help children move more easily, control their environment, perform activities of daily living with more independence or communicate successfully.

Assistive Devices for Communication

Some children may use sign language, some use picture books and some will use computerized software programs to communicate and learn. The computer is probably the most dramatic example of a communication device that can make a big difference in the lives of children with cerebral palsy. If a child has a computer and a voice synthesizer, a child can communicate successfully with others. Communication for a child with cerebral palsy is essential.

Assistive Technology Options for Motor Function, Positioning, and Activities of Daily Living

  • Braces (orthotics) and Splints
  • Mobility Devices
  • Canes
  • Walkers
  • Wheelchairs: manual or powered
  • Powered scooters
  • Positioning Devices
  • Seats
  • Standers
  • Sidelyers
  • Wedges
  • Adapted eating equipment
  • Bath chairs
  • Electronic home aids (door openers, devices to turn on lights)
  • Vision aids (magnifiers, large text print books)
  • Hearing aids (telephone amplifiers)

Additional Support Services

  • Personal assistance such as in-home nursing care or aides
  • Educational and vocational training
  • Independent living services
  • Counseling
  • Transportion
  • Recreation/leisure programs
  • Employment opportunities and support

Where are Services Provided?

  • Inpatient and Outpatient services
  • Hospitals
  • Special clinics or outpatient offices
  • May be affiliated with hospitals or may be private or free-standing
  • Early Intervention services (birth to three years)
  • Homes
  • Community locations
  • Day care settings
  • Other settings or programs when participating along with peers
  • School-based services (3 through age 21 years)
  • Public schools

Find Support

Is it cerebral palsy or something else?

Visit the My Child Without Limits support community and find the resources you need to get answers.

Resources:

Dystonia Medical Research Foundation
www.dystonia-foundation.org

Metachromatic Leukodystrophy Foundation
www.mldfoundation.org

Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease Foundation
www.pmdfoundation.org