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Caregiver Perspectives About Assistive Technology Use With Their Young Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders

Cardon, Teresa A. PhD; Wilcox, M. Jeanne PhD; Campbell, Philippa H. PhD

doi: 10.1097/IYC.0b013e31820eae40

The purpose was to examine how caregivers of infants and toddlers with autism spectrum disorder view theirdaily activities/routines and in what way, if any, assistive technology (AT) acts as a support. A total of 134 families who reported their child's disability as autism spectrum disorder/pervasive developmental disordercompleted a survey designed to gain information about activities/routines (eg, bath time, mealtime, etc) andpotential use of AT to support a child's participation in the routine. Frequency counts were utilized todetermine the percentage of caregiver responses in each activity/routine category. Responses to open-ended questionswere examined and coded to supplement the information gained through the forced-choice questions. Results indicatedthat caregivers reported difficulties with all sampled activities/routine. The problem reported most frequently(39.9%) was a child's inability to participate in the routine. Less than half of the caregivers reportedbeing able to find solutions that incorporated the use of AT. Although some caregivers reported using AT, actual useof AT was minimal. In addition, caregivers reported limited support and training on the use of AT. Assistivetechnology has been established as an effective means of providing intervention during daily activities/routines. Research indicates caregivers have large misconceptions about what AT is and receive minimal support from theirearly intervention providers in understanding AT.

Author Affiliations: Washington State University, Spokane (Dr Cardon); Arizona State University, Tempe (Dr Wilcox); and Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Dr Campbell).

Correspondence: Teresa A. Cardon, PhD, Washington State University, Speech and Hearing Sciences, PO Box 1495, Spokane, WA 99210 (

This research was supported by the US Department of Education, Office of Special Education (OSEP) cooperative agreement H327×01000. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and no official endorsement by the sponsor should be inferred. The authors thank all of the families who spent time completing the Web-based survey that provided the data for this article. They also thank Dawn Greer, one of their research coordinators, and their graduate student research assistants for their participation in data coding.

©2011Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.