Autism and Technology: Why They Work Well Together

Photo: Autistic child using technologyThe world has become deeply rooted in technology, but how can parents and teachers use these devices to help children on the spectrum? A study conducted by The University of Edinburgh found that children and adults with autism love high tech as much as anyone. Computers, games and videos offer some unique benefits for autistic children when implemented in a fun and practical manner. Consider ways autism and technology work well together.

Why Technology is a Practical Choice for Autistic Children

The proper use of high-tech devices like laptop computers, tablets and mobile DVD players help autistic children develop new skills and stay motivated to learn. Being autistic does not deter the thrill that comes from playing a computer game or watching an exciting video online. They tend to want to share this joy with others, too, enhancing their socialization skills naturally.

Working with teaching tools like assistive technology for autism helps these children master their own learning and play without adding stress to their lives. The right video can offer the perfect distraction to avoid a meltdown, too.

The benefits of combining autism and technology are not lost on developers, either. For example, Apple provides training resources to help teachers use technology to support students with sensory and learning disabilities.

Fitting Technology into the Life of a Child on the Spectrum

Technological devices have practical application both at home and in the classroom. These special children might respond better to a video story then a parent reading a book, for example. Watching YouTube videos on a laptop, television or tablet computer can provide a singular bonding experience for mom, dad and siblings.

Consider storytelling software such as The Monster at the End of This Book from Sesame Street, which is designed to provide learning experiences through interactive play. With interactive reading apps and videos, autistic children develop a love of stories.

4KidsShare is an app that helps kids of all ages create timelines and stay organized. It offers an audio feature so children can record messages of their own or listen to ones made for them when they need a little extra encouragement. It also provides a social share option to improve socialization and communication skills.

Samsung’s Look at Me app is about understanding social situations and how to cope with them. The developers state that using this app will improve eye contact and teach autistic children more about socialization and communication. The app uses actual photographs and facial recognition technology to create games about emotions. In clinical trials, 60 percent of autistic participants showed marked improvement in eye contact.

What to Look for When Buying Technology for Your Autistic Child

Ideally, you want to get your child a device that is easy to use but durable, like a touch screen tablet or smartphone – something light and portable. Quality matters, too, because you don’t want the child to become frustrated with screens that lag or shutdown unexpectedly.

Technology is an effective tool, but it can’t replace comprehensive Applied Behavior Analysis or traditional learning practices. Instead, teachers and parents should use these devices in conjunction with proven methodologies like ABA to help autistic children grow, experience new worlds and enjoy learning.