Autism Spectrum Disorders: Support Services, Assistive Technology

This article examines the various aspects of autism spectrum disorders, including support services and assistive technology in the school setting.

Autism Spectrum Disorders refer to the set of psychological disorders, with each involving abnormalities in communication and social interaction, and can also include repetitive behavior. The occurrence and impact of autism spectrum disorders are significant and determine the capacity of individuals to be self-supportive later in life.

Causes of Autism Spectrum Disorders

The main cause of autism spectrum disorders is the genetic makeup of the patient. Families with a history of autism spectrum disorders can experience higher probabilities of having children with autism spectrum disorders.

Researches into the causes of autism spectrum disorders have been slow, mainly because of the difficulty in experiments involving the brain, as access to this organ is extremely limited, until recently, when new technologies started allowing scientists to make more accurate and detailed scans of the brain and its activities. At present, though, the main reason that has been identified, so far, for autism spectrum disorders is genetics.

Characteristics Autism Spectrum Disorders

The main characteristic of autism spectrum disorders is the disability in social interaction. Social interaction requires communication. Thus, along with such social interaction disability, a person with one of the autism spectrum disorders also exhibits disability in social communication. Another important characteristic is the restriction of interest, as the person with the disorder experiences little or no interest for one or more things around him.

Autism spectrum disorders also come with repetition of activities, such as the repetition of movement, repetition of thoughts and other actions, including repetition of speech or words that uttered. There are other characteristics of autism spectrum disorders, but these are minor and are considered insignificant in diagnostic evaluations. For instance, the person with autism spectrum disorders can exhibit abnormal eating behavior. About 10 percent of people with autism spectrum disorders have been observed to exhibit rare abilities that are commonly considered excellent. For instance, a few people with autism spectrum disorders show that they have excellent memorization skills.

Behavioral Issues

Behavioral issues involving autism spectrum disorders include the following: A person with autism spectrum disorder usually experiences difficulty in developing and maintaining friendships. This difficulty arises from the fact that the person with autism spectrum disorder has typically has poor communication skills and social interaction skills. In many cases, persons with autism spectrum disorder are focused more on friendship quality than on the number of friends as the basis for their self perceived loneliness. Nonetheless, persons with autism spectrum disorder are able to understand stereotypes as well as differences among gender and races.

Medical Needs and Issues

The main medical issues involving autism spectrum disorder is that people with the disorder can have behaviors that increase the likelihood of injury to the self. Some people with autism spectrum disorder can exhibit severe abnormality in eating, such that their diets can be negatively affected, leading to malnutrition. At present, studies on autism spectrum disorders are still advancing as technologies continue to advance.

Available Support Services at Home for the Student

Available at-home support services for the student with autism spectrum disorder include training and technical assistance projects that are sponsored by states and non-government organizations. Such projects emphasize the involvement of family members in supporting the needs of the student with autism spectrum disorder.

Available Support Services at School for the Student

In the school setting, there are various services available for the student with autism spectrum disorder. These services include training sessions with persons with autism spectrum disorder, and training sessions with caregivers for patients with autism spectrum disorder, as well as school team consultations and counseling services for students with autism spectrum disorder. In addition, some schools can also provide individualized programs specific to students with autism spectrum disorder.

Support Families

Support families are important in addressing the needs of students with autism spectrum disorder. The family serves as the main social sphere of the student with autism spectrum disorder. This means that the active involvement of parents and other family members are necessary in programs that help provide training and counseling for students with autism spectrum disorder. In addition, there are some non government organizations that provide similar programs within the family setting.

Assistive Technology for Autism Spectrum Disorders

One assistive technology that can be used for students with autism spectrum disorder is the picture exchange system, which allows students to communicate through the use pictures or visual images instead of oral or written communication. Another assistive technology that can help address the learning needs of students with autism spectrum disorder is the set of speech generating devices, which allow students to provide signals other than speech and converts these signals into audio output that allows the receiver to understand what the students wants to convey. Overall, these technologies can be of great help in cases where the student suffers from impairment of oral communication skills.


  • Amaral, D., Geschwind, D., & Dawson, G. (Eds.). (2011). Autism spectrum disorders. Oxford University Press.
  • Corbett, B. L. Y. T. H. E., & Gunther, J. O. A. N. (2011). Autism spectrum disorders. Guilford Press.
  • Hollander, E. (Ed.). (2013). Autism spectrum disorders (Vol. 24). CRC Press.
  • Lord, C., Cook, E. H., Leventhal, B. L., & Amaral, D. G. (2013). Autism spectrum disorders. Autism: The Science of Mental Health28, 217.
  • Manning-Courtney, P., et al. (2013). Autism spectrum disorders. Current problems in pediatric and adolescent health care43(1), 2-11.
  • Missouri Assistive Technology Advisory Council (2015). Autism Spectrum Disorder and Assistive Technology. [Opens in New Window]
  • National Institute of Mental Health (2015). What is Autism Spectrum Disorder? [Opens in New Window]

This article may not be reproduced, distributed, or mirrored without written permission from Panmore Institute and its author/s. Copyright by Panmore Institute - All rights reserved. Small parts of this article may be quoted or paraphrased for research purposes, as long as the article is properly cited and referenced together with its URL/link.