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Collection: Early Childhood

purple arrow (1137 bytes)NCIP Profile: Expanded Keyboard Helps Students with Autism Write

At the Warren Prescott School in Boston, Paula Brassil has developed an integrated program for her five students with autism (ages 5 through 7). These students spend half of each school day with a small group of typically-developing kindergarteners. While all of Paula's students benefit from developmental writing, she feels that these skills are especially critical for her students with autism. For them, writing is another means of expanding their limited communication repertoire.

Keeping her students with autism focused is always a challenge, particularly during group activities. Paula often uses the computers as an attentional anchor but finds that her students are often overwhelmed by the standard keyboard. The mix of letter and abstract function keys, as well as the random placement and small size of letters, can be confusing.

Paula has been able to minimize her students' frustration by introducing them to IntelliKeys(TM), a 15 inch by 10 inch membrane keyboard with enlarged boldface letters displayed in alphabetical order. Students can readily see the letters, learn their locations, and confirm their selections by listening to the speech feedback as they write. Since using Intellikeys, her students are more attuned to letters and their corresponding sounds and this foundation is having a positive impact on their emerging literacy skills.

Photo of teacher and student at membrane keyboard
Paula Brassil, (left),
demonstrates a membrane
keyboard to a student.

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This material was developed by the National Center to Improve Practice (NCIP), located at Education Development Center, Inc. in Newton, Massachusetts.  NCIP was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs from October 1, 1992 - September 30, 1998, Grant #H180N20013.  Permission is granted to copy and disseminate this information.  If you do so, please cite NCIP.   Contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by NCIP, EDC, or the U.S. Government.  This site was last updated in September 1998. 

ŠEducation Development Center, Inc.