Make sure you understand the specifics of your child's learning needs.
If he struggles with writing, does he have trouble forming letters - or is it composing the sentences that confounds him? Perhaps organizing the essay is the hardest part.
If you're not sure just what your child's problem is, speak to his teacher or learning specialist.
Shop the Web.
Searching Google for product Web sites is one way to go, but there are others. CNet.com offers product reviews, buying guides, and price comparisons of PDAs. At EnableMart.com, click on "Learning" for a good selection of AT tools. And check your favorite comparison-shopping Web site, such as Shopzilla.com, for brand names and prices. Be sure to get input from school personnel, tutors, coaches, and other parents.
Don't overlook practical considerations.
If the product will be traveling between home and school, is it light enough for your child to carry? If you're buying software, is it compatible with your home computer?
Tech support is essential: Make sure the device manufacturer offers online and toll-free tech support. Better yet, contact nearby disability support groups - such as a local chapter of Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), or your school district's disability office - to see if help is available locally.
Take a test drive.
Once you've zeroed in on a few products, take your child to an electronics store so she can try them. Local public schools or community colleges may also have AT tools she can test. To try out software, check a product's Web site to see if the manufacturer offers a demo or a free 30-day download.
As you observe the product in action, consider whether it's easy to understand and operate. Is your child comfortable with the technology and likely to use it? Most important, does the tool make her better able to work on her own?
This article comes from the June/July 2006 issue of ADDitude.