Discussion PromptAfter reading the article, discuss why assistive technology is relevant to you as a early childhood educator, using concepts from the article.Follow the guidelines for the discussion rubric.End your initial response with a question for your classmates to reflect and expand onWhat is Assistive Technology?Assistive technology (AT) can be thought of as any item that supports a child’s ability to participate actively in his or her home, childcare program, school, or other community settings. It is a broad term that includes items ranging from something as “low tech” as a foam wedge for positioning to something as “high tech” as a power wheelchair for independent mobility. Other examples of assistive technology for young children include items such as switch-operated toys, laminated picture boards, head pointers, specialized drinking cups, adapted spoons, augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices, computers, and more.Benefits of AT for Infants and Young ChildrenAssistive devices and services can be of great value in providing infants and young children with disabilities opportunities to learn and interact with their environment in ways that might not otherwise be possible. For example, assistive technology can help a child to:participate more actively in family, school and community activitiesplay successfully with toys and other childrencommunicate his or her needs and ideasmake choicesmove independentlyAccessing and Funding AT for Infants and Young ChildrenAccording to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), all children who are eligible to receive special education or early intervention services are also eligible to receive assistive technology, if it is included as part of their Individualized Education Plan (IEP) (WWW: §614(d) (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.) or Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) (WWW: §636 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.).Children with disabilities, even those who are not eligible for special education under IDEA, may also be entitled to the provision of assistive technology under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act or under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).Part B of the IDEA requires that assistive technology be considered as part of the evaluation process). However, if this does not happen, an assistive technology evaluation can be requested at any time. Additionally, if parents are not satisfied with the results of the evaluation provided by their child’s school, they may request an independent evaluation at the school’s expense.Family RoleAssistive technology evaluation, selection, training and maintenance should be carried out by qualified professionals, with active participation on the part of the family. The IDEA requires that all special education services be family-centered and directly related to the family’s priorities and concerns for their child. Family members are in a position to provide valuable information about the child’s strengths, interests and daily routines, which is critical for determining what kinds of AT devices and services will best meet the child and family’s needs. According to Judge (2000) 1 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site., AT abandonment (rejection, non-use of the device) is often due to the fact that family input played only a small role in the AT evaluation and selection process. Understanding and taking into account the values, resources, concerns and routines of the child’s family helps to ensure a greater level of success when it comes to using assistive technology effectively in the child’s everyday activities.Assistive Technology in Natural and Least Restrictive EnvironmentsAs part of the evaluation process, families and professionals need to decide where assistive technology devices and services will be provided to best meet the child’s needs. The Early Intervention Program for Infants and Toddlers (Part C of IDEA) states that assistive technology must be provided in natural environments, to the maximum extent appropriate, for children from birth to age three. Such environments might include, for example, the child’s home, childcare program or other community settings in which children without disabilities participate.ReferencesJudge S. L. (2000). Accessing and funding assistive technology for young children with disabilities. Early Childhood Education Journal, 28(2), 125-131.Parette, P., VanBiervliet, & Hourcade, J. J. (2000). Family-Centered Decision Making in Assistive Technology. Journal of Special Education Technology, 15(1), 45-55.