Michelle: Welcome to today's course on cognitive technologies. This is part of a series of courses helping you to prepare for the ATP examination. Within this course, we will be covering definitions such as what are cognitive disabilities and what are some of the cognitive technologies that we can bring to the table to assist these clients. We are also going to go over strategies to address distraction, memory loss, organization, and task completion. We will also look at safety and security as these are important issues for people with cognitive disabilities, and we can bring strategies to the client to address these areas of need. We will wrap up with a quick discussion of learning disabilities.
Assistive Technology Professional Certification
Now, our goal here is to cover this information in the context of preparing for the ATP Certification Examination
. This certification is offered through RESNA, the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America. This is a professional organization, and they offer several different certifications. This particular one is designed to demonstrate a basic level of competence in the practice area of assistive technology. Over 4,000 people hold this certification right now. This series of courses includes information to help prepare you for the exam. This series is not designed to be an exhaustive coverage of this topic of cognitive impairments and technologies to meet those needs, but rather an overview so that you are aware of this information. If you are interested in this certification, there are certain prerequisites that you must also fulfill before taking the exam. You must complete 1,000 hours of work experience over a six year period of time. More specific eligibility requirements are listed on this site
Cognition is the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge understanding through thought, experience, and the senses (Wikipedia). Knowledge and understanding are two different things. A person with a cognitive disability is going to have greater difficulty with one or more types of mental tasks than other people. These challenges can be separated into clinical disabilities, and functional disabilities.
Clinical disabilities, where we can see some level of cognitive impairment, include autism, down syndrome, traumatic brain injury, dementia, attention deficit disorder, and learning disabilities (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Examples of clinical disabilities.
Does this mean that in each one of these particular clinical disabilities, there is cognitive impairment? This is not always the case, and it depends how you define cognitive impairment. For example, someone with dyslexia, a learning disability, may have average to above average intelligence, but they still have learning disabilities which are categorized as a cognitive impairment.
Functional disabilities affect our capacity to think, to concentrate, react to emotions that we are feeling, formulate ideas, problem solve, reason, and remember (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Functional disability components.
These are all very specific, functional areas that are impacted cognitively. I believe that all of us are on a spectrum in terms of cognitive skills. We all have strengths, and we all have weaknesses. As such, we tend to use strategies on our own, sometimes without really being aware of it, to help us deal with some of those weaker areas. Our clients also need strategies to help them to address these issues, but they may lack the ability to come up with these strategies on their own. You or I might decide we need a list to go to the grocery store, but that requires us to formulate that idea. We need to identify where the gaps are for our clients and help them to identify strategies.