interviews Archer and Howorth about technology for neurodivergent students

A recent article on about educational technology for neurodivergent students featured interviews with Connor Archer, self-advocate advisor to Maine Access to Inclusive Education Resources (MAIER), and Sarah Howorth, associate professor of special education and MAIER’s director. Archer was diagnosed with autism at age three and remained nonverbal until he was five. Growing up, his mother encouraged him to type on a laptop. Archer embraced the challenge and gradually wrote a collection of short stories. During high school and college, digital translation tools helped him with foreign language assignments. Now 25, he has an MBA from Husson University and is CEO of a nonprofit he founded, the Courageous Steps Project, which supports inclusive learning projects in Maine. “Using a pen and paper was never my strong suit. Keyboarding worked for me, but everybody’s different,” Archer said. “Results may not show in the minute, but they will eventually. It takes time and patience. I wouldn’t be successful without the presence of technology in my life.” Howorth says communication tools that give students a voice have been game changing. She said it’s exciting to think about the role artificial intelligence will play in assistive technology, though she cautioned that any new tool, no matter how impressive, must be a good fit with the student’s individualized learning plan and not a shortcut to achievement. “Think of the learning objectives first,” she said. “Is it [the AI-powered tool] helping the student, or just doing the work for them?”