By Sarah Collins, MSOT OTR/L from Homeschool OT


As an Occupational Therapist consulting with homeschool families, one of the top questions asked is, “Do I force my child to write?” The answer depends on the child and is not as simple as a yes or no. Here are the top three considerations when helping families to make this decision between handwriting and assistive technology.


1. What type of learner is the child? 

Kinesthetic learners need movement to help encode information. They wiggle frequently, often benefit from manipulatives in math, and their attention often follows their hands. Writing can provide the kinesthetic component to reinforce learning. In contrast, visual learners do well with typing because they can see information on the computer screen. Auditory learners do great with talk to text or even Google read and write. The VARK questionnaire can help families determine the specific learning style.


2. What is the environment of the homeschool? 

The environment considers posture for writing, length of time available for writing assignments, how many kids are present, even positioning of the paper. Often, with decreased distractions and a proper seated position, we can help a child be successful with writing so they can fall back on this skill when needed in the future.


3. For what types of assignments is handwriting needed? 

Typically, in our culture, the amount of handwriting needed peaks in late elementary school when kids are learning to write papers and need the speed of their writing to keep up with their thoughts. After this, writing is typically only used for note taking and then even less frequently for jotting reminders. Beginning around this middle school, my recommendations change from building the skills needed for handwriting, to accommodating for learning styles within adaptive strategies.


For more specific information on any of these considerations, please contact HomeschoolOT for a consultation for your homeschool. 


Sarah Collins, MSOT, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with a background in both pediatrics and home health, and a homeschooling parent. Sarah was first introduced to homeschooling in 2016 while working as an OT in a client’s home; she was amazed at the learning atmosphere and opportunities within the home. Now as an OT homeschooling her own family, she noticed that parents, though experts on their own children, were invariably asking the same questions and needed resources. As a result, Collins Academy Therapy Services aka HomeschoolOT was established with the dual purpose of educating parents on how to create homeschools specifically designed for students’ needs and training occupational therapists to best serve the homeschool community, together guiding children towards their specific purpose in life. You can find Sarah on line at on Instagram at and in the Facebook group she moderates at



  • American Occupational Therapy Association. (2020). Occupational therapy practice framework (4th ed.). American Occupational Therapy.
  • Flemming, N. Mills, C. (1992) Not another Inventory, Rather a Catalyst for Reflection. Improve the Academy. 11.
  • Haswell, Joanna, “A Close Look at Learning Styles” (2017). Honors Senior Capstone Projects. 23.
  • Sarma, S., Yoguinto, L. (2020). Grasp. Massachusetts Instit




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Peggy Ployhar

Assistive Technology, or AT, is defined as “any item, piece of equipment, software program, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities” by the Assistive Technology Industry Association . For individuals who struggle with communication disabilities, AT solutions can greatly increase accessibility and educational success, as well as improve other important life functions. Below are some great resources to help you find the perfect communication assistive technology for your homeschool student.


Communication AT Guides

Download or read online this free PDF Communications Guide from the Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative. Included in this 62-page guide is everything you need to learn about the various types of communication devices available, how to access your child’s needs as well as his/her ability to utilize various AT devices based upon functionality, sensory, implementation, and even environmental considerations. Additionally, this guide breaks down specific tech providers, their products, compares features, and provides links for viewing these AT products online.

Another similar guide can be found in a series of articles from iCommunicate Therapy starting with this article on this page. These articles provide a summary of communication AT devices from high-tech to low-tech devices as well as breaking down those categories into specific device types and what individuals benefit most from using them.


Communication AT for Children with Autism

Communication difficulties for children on the Autism spectrum includes some unique variables, therefore it is best when looking for communication AT for a child on the spectrum to take those considerations into account. This article by the Autism Parenting Magazine, Assistive Technology Devices for Children with Autism, does a great job of walking a parent through the various reasons children on the spectrum can benefit from using communication AT as well as what AT works best for certain communication issues. 

Autism Speaks has also developed a 2-page PDF,   Assistive Technology for Communication Roadmap. These pages provide an overview of assessing a student for a device, choosing a device, device funding pathways, and training a student for successful use.


AT Communication Apps

If you are looking for an app that is iPad or iPhone specific, this article from Friendship Circle provides a list of their Top 7 Assistive Communication Apps in the iPad App Store. This article includes general descriptions of the apps, pricing, and customer ratings.

On the other hand, if you are looking specifically for an app to put on an Android device, the first 4 of the 6 apps listed in this article by Easter Seals Tech,  6 Android Apps for Special Needs, are great communication AT apps to consider. 

Finally, if you are still trying to wrap your mind around what incorporating assistive technology for your homeschool may look like or if your child is interested in how other children use AT devices for their communication needs, I would encourage you to check out the Pacer Center’s YouTube Channel. Their channel has lots of videos highlighting personal stories of children and how they use AT for greater accessibility.

For children with communication disabilities, assistive technology may bridge the gap and allow them greater opportunities in homeschool and life.






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By Tracy Criswell

Many parents hear the word assistive technology and automatically think that it will be expensive. This is not the case though. According to the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), assistive technology is any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of children with disabilities. There are two types of assistive technology: low tech assistive technology and high tech assistive technology. For this article, I will be focusing mostly on low tech assistive technology, but will briefly address high tech assistive technology.

Low Tech Assistive Technology Explained
Low tech assistive technology, according to Tools for Life, are devices or equipment that do not require much training, less expensive, and does not have complex features. For many homeschooling families, low tech assistive technology is an inexpensive item that can be used to help educate their children with a variety of needs. I have personally used low tech assistive technology with my three youngest children with ADHD, learning disabilities, sensory processing disorder, and anxiety. In reality, you may be already using a different type of low tech assistive technology without knowing it.

Examples of Low Tech Assistive Technology
You might be wondering, what are some examples of low tech assistive technology. Things as simple as using a dry erase board and marker for the student to write their answers to a math problem or an exercise ball to bounce on while reading or completing other homeschool tasks to help your child focus are both considered examples of low tech assistive technology. The great thing about low tech assistive technology is that the item does not cost a lot of money. As a homeschooling mother of four, every penny counts.

Here are more examples of low tech assistive technology that can be used while homeschooling your child:

  • Large font worksheets
  • Audiobooks
  • Use of a binder as a slant board (to elevate the paper so it is at a better level for the child to see)
  • Rubber stamps with letters and/or child’s first and last name and inkpad (to use for spelling, etc.)
  • Refrigerator magnetic letters to use for spelling words
  • Stress balls for children with anxiety and/or needing sensory input
  • Sandpaper to place under writing paper to receive sensory input while writing (and also very helpful for children that place too much pressure on their pencils while writing)
  • Pencil grips
  • Raised lined paper or highlighted paper
  • Graphic organizers,
  • Reading guide highlighter strips
  • Highlighter tape to assist with note taking
  • Colored transparencies to use for reading
  • Sentence strips (you can make your own or purchase them)
  • Grid paper for math (assists children with making sure their numbers are in neat rows while doing math)
  • Kitchen timer
  • A visual schedule
  • Velcro that can be used for folder activities or visual schedules

There are many more examples of low tech assistive technology items, but these are items that I have used either with my own children or students that I have tutored.

High Tech Assistive Technology
In addition to low tech assistive technology devices, there is high tech assistive technology. High tech assistive technology devices, according to Tools for Life, are the most complex devices or equipment, that have digital or electronic components that will possibly require training and effort to learn how to use them as well as cost the most money. This type of assistive technology is normally used to help with communication, mobility (getting from place to place), reading, safety, etc.

The following are some examples of high tech assistive technology:

  • Electronic augmentative communication devices (technology that is used for children that are nonverbal to communicate with others)
  • Hearing aids
  • Electric wheelchair
  • Computer
  • Various computer programs (text to speech, voice recognition, word prediction, etc.)
  • Electronic home alarms (provide a different way to let those with hearing or visual impairments know when there is a fire, someone at the front door, someone calling)
  • iPad


More About Assistive Technology
Assistive technology can be very helpful when we homeschool children with special needs. Low tech assistive technology is very affordable and can be used in a variety of ways. This is a huge plus when it comes to homeschooling. It is also important to note that there are ways to obtain high tech assistive technology.

In some states, if your child is a dual-enrolled homeschool student with special needs, the school can provide the high tech assistive technology. Other options to obtain this type of assistive technology is to check with your insurance, check with Medicare (if your child is on Medicare), contact the assistive technology manufacturer, etc. It is wonderful as a homeschooling parent of a child with special needs to have so many options. Every day, it seems, there are new forms of assistive technology being used and developed. 

Also, make sure to check out the SPED Homeschool Assistive Technology and  Ed Tech Pinterest boards to discover more ways you can implement both low and high tech assistive technology in your homeschool.



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By Kimberly Vogel 

It’s getting easier and easier to make adaptations using technology for our struggling learners. I recently found a new tool to help: Tech finder! You can put in what you are looking for and it gives suggestions for apps. There are also google chrome extensions that help with adaptations.

While technology is so great for engaging our children in learning, it doesn’t come without its drawbacks. Here are 3 tips to help you get the most from your technology use. 

1. The Internet is Not Safe
The rise of child predators using the internet is rising and will continue. It’s critical to have hard conversations with your child about safety. Many special needs children miss warning signs and don’t understand what information is okay to give out and what’s not. If your child falls into that category, err on the side of caution and block any communication. Also, pornography is rampant. Innocent searches such as misspelled words in the search bar can lead to dangerous sites. I’m a huge fan of only allowing devices (computers, iphones, ipads, ipods… anything with internet connection) in common areas.

2. Adaptations Can Be Overused
Modifications and adaptations are wonderful; however, there is a point where they become a crutch and overused when our child is ready to move on. When using new technology for adaptations, do so with a goal of phasing it out as the child is ready. For example, speech to text is a great resource. You could use it for anything they need help with at first. Then, setting up appropriate time frames for your child, you can move to not using it for simple answers that can be written, then phase it out for one paragraph essays, to only using it for brainstorming before writing. You will know when your child is ready to remove some of the modifications. This is also a great time to teach them to self-monitor and set their own goals of reducing modifications and the use of apps.

3. Kids Can Outsmart Us! 
Our children are not allowed to have electronics in their rooms, but we did get Amazon Echos for music and communication. They are all connected, and I can see what they ask Alexa. One day my daughter was doing her math using Alexa instead of her brain. Watch your kids! Even when there are rules and safety standards, they can go beyond them!

Some other helpful articles:
Using Apps in your homeschool
Techie Homeschool Mom
Understood – New apps



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