Prescribing assistive-technology systems: focus on children with impaired communication

Deborah Gaebler-Spira*, Larry W. Desch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


This clinical report defines common terms of use and provides information on current practice, research, and limitations of assistive technology that can be used in systems for communication. The assessment process to determine the best devices for use with a particular child (ie, the best fit of a device) is also reviewed. The primary care pediatrician, as part of the medical home, plays an important role in the interdisciplinary effort to provide appropriate assistive technology and may be asked to make a referral for assessment or prescribe a particular device. This report provides resources to assist pediatricians in this role and reviews the interdisciplinary team functional evaluation using standardized assessments; the multiple funding opportunities available for obtaining devices and ways in which pediatricians can assist families with obtaining them; the training necessary to use these systems once the devices are procured; the follow-up evaluation to ensure that the systems are meeting their goals; and the leadership skills needed to advocate for this technology. The American Academy of Pediatrics acknowledges the need for key resources to be identified in the community and recognizes that these resources are a shared medical, educational, therapeutic, and family responsibility. Although this report primarily deals with assistive technology specific for communication impairments, many of the details in this report also can aid in the acquisition and use of other types of assistive technology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1271-1280
Number of pages10
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2008


  • Assistive technology
  • Augmentative and alternative communication
  • Children with disabilities
  • Communication
  • Communication impairments
  • Specialhealth care needs, pediatrician

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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