Children with autism have different needs than other, non-disabled children. In some cases, the autistic child may also have physical disabilities, in addition to the expected social, situational and sensory difficulties. Adaptive equipment is anything that can be used to help your autistic child function more effectively. It may include anything from special cups or straws to PECS or items to help stop “stimming” (self-stimulation).
Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is a commonly used system that allows autistic children with communication difficulties to “talk.” PECS involves a board (Velcro) and either pictures or words (or both) that the child can place on the board to create sentences.
Because of sensory issues, many children with autism need extra pressure on their limbs or bodies. Weighted blankets and deep pressure vests can help to provide that needed push to help them focus.
Many children with autism have difficulty writing. While occupational therapy might help with this problem, it can still be hard for the child. To help with this, some children use word processors, such as the Neo by Alphasmart, both at school and home.
While they may not sound like adaptive equipment for autistic children, any number of toys can be used to help an autistic child stop “stimming.” Many time stress balls, Velcro and other small hand-held manipulatives are used to help a child keep focused by allowing him to play with things that provide sensory feedback.
Due to the need to seek sensory input, some autistic children feel the need for movement and motion. Swings and other indoor play equipment, such as tunnels and ball pits, can help keep the autistic child grounded and focused. Many therapy centers and special needs classrooms have these items for the children to use on a daily basis.
Potty training is especially difficult for some autistic children due to sensory processing issues. Because of this, incontinence pads allow children to wear underwear even if they are having accidents.
Children with autism may need help feeding themselves and eating. Weighted forks, spoons and knives, silverware with large handles, and hard plastic straws, can help autistic children eat by themselves.