Technology Aided Instruction and Intervention

Technology Aided Instruction and Intervention (TAII) is a popular method for teaching individuals with developmental disabilities, particularly those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). TAII is defined as any instruction or intervention in which the learner’s goals are primarily achieved through the use of technology as the central feature. This can include anything from mobile devices, tablets, and laptops, to speech-generating devices, apps, and web-based programs.

TAII methods can be implemented throughout the teaching process, and can be used to provide prompts to students, display scripts or visual schedules for familiar routines, video modeling, task selection, or as a tool for student self-monitoring. The versatility of TAII makes it an appealing option for therapists and educators, as it can be used to teach a wide range of skills, including academic, social communication, vocational, independent living, motor, and adaptive behaviors, as well as daily living routines.

A majority of studies conducted using TAII have involved children with developmental disabilities, including ASD. TAII has been shown to benefit individuals with ASD of different ages, from preschool children as young as 3-5 years old to young adults up to age 22. TAII methods are considered an evidence-based intervention by the What Works Clearinghouse, a United States Department of Education database for teaching methods, as well as by various agencies that specifically address ASD, such as the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders, The Center on Secondary Education for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (CSESA), and Autism Speaks.

In our current era of smartphones, tablets, and “there’s an app for that” lifestyle, it’s hard to imagine life without technology. Teaching individuals with ASD represents one area where technology has seen massive growth, to the point where some practitioners and teachers now can’t imagine life in a classroom or clinic without it. With new technology becoming available every year, and the quality of existing technology increasing, TAII is likely to continue to grow and develop as an effective method for teaching individuals with developmental disabilities.

The process of implementing technology-aided interventions (TAII) can seem daunting. To help make the process easier, we’ve compiled a list of five essential steps to incorporating TAII into your practice:

  1. Clearly Define Your Goal: The first step in ensuring the success of your TAII is to have a clearly defined goal for your individual students. This includes identifying the target end behavior you intend to teach, as it can influence the technology you choose. Additionally, it is essential to observe the child’s baseline performance of the target skill and collect data to ensure you have a clear understanding of where the learner is starting from.

  2. Conduct a Technology Assessment: Once you have a clearly defined goal, the next step is to conduct a technology assessment with the learner and other key stakeholders, including parents, teachers, and staff at the school or clinic. The goal of the assessment is to determine the learner’s skills with technology and the available resources. You should also evaluate what resources are immediately available and if it may be necessary to petition insurance or make modifications to the learner’s education plan to fund new technology.

  3. Teach Technology Use Before Skills: Many TAII programs fail because they lack a careful task-analysis of how to use the technology itself. Before beginning to teach new skills, make sure the learner fully understands how to operate the technology. This includes learning how to turn the device on and off, charging the battery, and how to properly open, close, and toggle between programs.

  4. Monitor Progress with Data Collection: As you begin to implement the task analysis for the selected technology, it’s essential to monitor progress with ongoing data collection. This data can determine the learner’s success and help guide decision-making. It can also shed light on potential gaps in the intervention, including issues with the learner’s motivation and staff training.

  5. Continuously Plan Next Steps: One criticism of TAII is that some programs fail to make progress with the learner once the initial behaviors and goals are reached. To avoid this, it’s essential to plan for the next steps and continuously evaluate the learner’s progress. For example, if the initial goal of teaching a child to use a speech-generating program to order from a restaurant menu is reached, the next step could be expanding to new menu items or other restaurants.

Incorporating TAII into your classroom or therapy teaching strategies can have numerous benefits for your learners. By following these five essential steps, you can ensure that your TAII implementation is successful and beneficial for all involved.