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Assistive Technology in the Life of CLE Student

The Spectrum of Siri

by Monique Bergman, CLE Costa Mesa

Savannah at CLE Costa MesaAssistive technology is a tool used by many individuals in the world, which has an astounding amount of advantages to the support it provides. Not only does this technology serve useful to the general public, but especially the autism spectrum population. It allows individuals on the spectrum to communicate with those around them by assisting them in their communication and socialization skills. It also helps with many executive functioning aspects such as organizing, planning, problem solving, etc. Assistive technology is truly an amazing platform that serves multiple purposes throughout people’s lives.

This newfound technology is greatly appreciated by our students at CLE and truly does wonders in their lives. I had the pleasure of interviewing one of our original students, Savannah. Savannah utilizes Siri, the assistive technology of the well-known iPhone operating system, in her daily life for a variety of things. Savannah refers to Siri as the “best thing you’ll ever do and the most infuriating too.” Savannah utilizes Siri daily from shopping lists to alarms.

Savannah identified that she uses Siri for several purposes: creating her shopping lists, dictating texts, scheduling appointments, notes for health tracking, checking the weather, basic math, locating the closest stores, timers and alarms. During our discussion, Savannah showed great appreciation for the many functions Siri has to offer, allowing her to carrying out the day to day activities in the most efficient way.

Using Siri's assistive technologyShe noted that the dictation feature of Siri is extremely useful, since spelling is a challenge for her. However, she stated that Siri can be frustrating at times; when it makes those well-known typos that we are all too familiar with. To help overcome this particular challenge, Savannah has learned the commands and phrases that Siri commonly recognizes due to her familiarity with the dictation program, Dragon. She stated that when speaking to Siri it is crucial to say the day, time, and the phrase “schedule,” when communicating events or appointments.

Savannah reported that alarms are extremely useful in keeping track of her day to day activities and said that the timers on her phone “are huge.” She sets a timer for just about everything that she needs to keep track of time, such as the microwave, the laundry, etc., all with the help of Siri. Savannah even uses this form of assistive technology to help her problem solve locations of stores. She will simply ask Siri where the closest store is that she is looking for and Siri will give a response. Savannah was sure to note that Siri is not error proof, that sometimes the application will come up with locations that are not closest due to where her location was last set, although this is something Savannah takes into account when requesting the command.

As you can see, Savannah has surely benefited from the assistive technology of the iPhone in the form of Siri. Overall, assistive technology has its frustrating moments for the user, but this is outweighed by the numerous benefits and advantages it provides in daily life.


Apple, Inc. (2016). iPhone.
Apple, Inc. (2016). Siri.
Nuance Communications, Inc. (2016). Dragon.

Newsletter Articles – February 2016

Joan Green

Joan Green is a licensed and certified Speech-Language Pathologist, and founder of Innovative Speech Therapy. She is a nationally recognized expert on assistive technology and author of several books, including The Ultimate Guide to Assistive Technology in Special Education: Resources for Education, Intervention and Rehabilitation, 2nd Edition. I recently had the opportunity to discuss the benefits of assistive technology and new developments in the field with Joan.

Video games can teach social skills

Like it or not, the appearance and methodology of socialization are changing in our kids and young adults. As technology becomes a greater part of our everyday lives, it makes sense that our everyday practices may be influenced both negatively and positively by its tremendous pull. Video games were first popularized when I was a young child; however, they were an activity that was by and large used in free time while parents encouraged their children to engage in more “constructive activities,” such as social play.

These days, gaming is more intricately entwined with socialization. All “next generation” systems have modalities to play remotely with other users, game publishers are taking advantage of social gaming by publishing more games that give clear advantages to people who play with others, and more group-based games are being published. The boundary between socialization and gaming is becoming less and less clear, and we as professionals and parents need to evolve along with technology if we truly want to impact students on the autism spectrum or with other special needs in a positive way.

Joshua Ruiz of CLE Davie

Assistive Technology is changing the world for individuals with special or diverse needs. With advanced technology vastly improving, individuals-including neurotypicals-use this modern, advanced technology for everyday tasks such as phone calls, messaging, email, Facebook, and Twitter. But some individuals with disabilities have a hard time using technology. One of my friends, Abel, has cerebral palsy and he is not able to communicate or move at all. He uses a special device that has a button on the head of his chair. When he moves his head he is able to communicate with others but it is also difficult for him to use this equipment. He uses all of his effort to control this system, which is incredible.

The pros and cons of video games and their impact on social development.

Parents, have you ever walked in while your child was playing a video game and thought, “They are just wasting brain cells?” Students, as gamers have you ever thought, “I just have to make it past this level,” and refused to give up until you beat it? Are there arguments for both of these scenarios being reasonable? We are going to look further into the world of gaming.

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This has been a special needs program update from College Living Experience | CLE | Choose Your Future. You may also click here to read the original article on the main program website.