What is Supported Typing?


Supported Typing is a strategy to help students with autism gain AAC AAT Supported Typingaccess to Assistive Technology, communication, and academics.  Often with autism, an underlying Movement Disorder (Donnellan & Leary, 1995) may prevent an individual from developing reliable pointing skills.   So, when a child with autism is asked to “give me yellow”…he may know which object is yellow in color, for example, but may impulsively reach out for the orange one.  In an assessment that relies on performance, the examiner may inaccurately conclude that the child does not know his or her colors.  However, when supports are provided to help the individual overcome their movement differences, their pointing becomes more accurate and more reliable.  With the help of a trained Communication Partner, an individual can organize their movement and make accurate and reliable choices.

Supported Typing uses educational scaffolds so that students with autism can access the general education curriculum in an Inclusive Environment.  After all, most tests in the general education classroom are multiple choice, so if a student can learn to reliably point to a choice board with  4 choices on it, they can often achieve academic success.  When provided with physical, communicative and emotional supports, an Assistive Technology device can be used reliably and accurately.  The goal of Supported Typing is independent typing, so the supports are faded over time as the student becomes more and more successful using their Assistive Technology device.

Research Suggests using Supports and Scaffolds
In education, there is a large body of research that demonstrates how English Language Learners and students with disabilities can achieve academic success when provided the necessary supports and scaffolds in the classroom.  In the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA), the law defines the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) so that students with disabilities can be educated, to the maximum extent possible, with their nondisabled peers, using whatever supports and services necessary to achieve satisfactory success.

  • When using supports such as communicative prompts, emotional support and physical resistance, a student with autism can learn to access Assistive Technology in a reliable manner.
  • When supporting an individual to use the Idea, Plan, and Execute model, movement can become purposeful and accurate.
  • By providing supports for motor planning difficulties, students can learn to make reliable choices, spell and communicate.
  • And by fading those supports through continual daily practice, students can become independent typers and master academic skills necessary for literacy acquisition.
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Nancy Brady, MA-EdSP, ATS