Technology is changing the lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Technology is used for leisure, for education, and for developing specific skills for people with disabilities such as ASD. Many people with autism enjoy using computers. This can be attributed to the sense of safety and predictability they feel when interacting with this particular technology. Moreover, technological advancements have had a beneficial impact on the development of communication and life skills among individuals with autism. Advancements in technology, such as virtual agents, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and augmented reality are changing the lives of individuals with autism.
Autism and Technology
Although the field should continue to explore the impact of technology on those with autism, there has been quite extensive research on the topic to date. Numerous studies have shown that individuals with autism are often drawn to technology, and many of them possess the ability to use computers and learn effectively through their use. Some research suggests that this is because computers offer a sense of predictability and structure which helps people with autism to feel more secure in that they can know what to expect. They may also engage in repetitive behaviors when using technology which is a characteristic of autism spectrum disorder.
Learning Specific Skills
Several research studies have also explored the utilization of technology to assist individuals with autism spectrum disorder in acquiring specific skills. Examples of technology that can be used for this purpose include the use of sensors, virtual reality, augmented reality, apps, software, and video games. More specifically, apps have been developed to help children with autism learn new language skills. Researchers have looked into how virtual reality can support children with autism in developing social skills. These are just some examples of how technology has been used for people with autism.
Technology is changing the way people with autism learn. Technology can be used to help people with autism develop a variety of skills. Technology can support conceptual skills, such as language, identification of colors and shapes, using money, math skills, science, among many other educational skills. Technology can also help people with autism learn practical daily living skills, such as self-care, health-related skills, and more. Technology can be used to help people with autism learn social skills, such as emotional identification and regulation, communicating with others, and interpersonal relationship skills.
Autism and Gaming
Research has explored how specific game elements are used when using games to teach people with autism spectrum disorder. Researchers in this area have found some of the specific aspects of games that make them more attractive and engaging to people with autism. The most common game elements that are used include having points, levels, and rewards within the game.
Some examples of games that have been developed to support the skills and abilities of people with autism have included games that increase math skills, games that help players learn about identifying emotions, games that help learners develop comprehension skills, and games that support the development of social skills.
Alternative Communication Technologies
Some people with autism struggle to develop language and speech skills. In these instances, alternative communication strategies may be used to allow them the opportunity to communicate with others. This is an extremely valuable purpose of technology for supporting the quality of life of people with autism. Technology can also help many children with autism to communicate using text-to-voice applications.
The ability to communicate through a tablet or smartphone using alternative communication software allows some people with autism to express their needs and interact with others in ways they would not be able to accomplish without the use of technology.
Many people with autism can communicate through texting or email, as well. Some individuals with autism find it more comfortable to communicate in writing instead of verbal communication.
More Benefits of Technology for People with Autism
Technology is changing the lives of people with autism. When used effectively, technology can support an individual’s self-esteem. It can increase motivation to complete important tasks. It can help the person stay organized. Technology can be used to increase independence and daily living skills, as well.
Assistive technology is any device that can assist or support those with disabilities. Many people with autism are visual learners. They can process information more easily when it is in a visual format as compared to audio information. This common trait of autism is very well suited for the use of technology which often utilizes visual content.
Today, it is becoming easier for people to access technology. This is beneficial to children and adults with autism. People with autism can use computers, cell phones, iPads or tablets, and other technologies to support them in a variety of ways. They can use technology as a tool to enjoy life more, to connect with others, to learn educational skills, and to develop their independence and daily living skills.
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) technology helps people with autism by supporting their independence and allowing them to communicate with others. AAC technology allows the person to express their needs. Some examples of technologies that can be used to support communication in people with autism include the following:
- Proloquo2Go - This is an app that is considered one of the best options for supporting language and communication skills. The program can be customized to the individual learner.
- Touch and Learn - This is an app that focuses on teaching children about emotions. The app is presented in a game-like format.
- Otsimo - This app is engaging and develops vocabulary skills in the user through a game-like format.
Modeling Skills and Observational Learning
Many children with autism struggle to learn certain skills and behaviors through natural observation in the same way that neurotypical children learn. Because of this, many children with autism require intentional teaching of specific skills. Some technologies have been developed to assist in this area.
One example is called Model Me Going Places which is an app that helps children with autism understand the unwritten rules that are associated with many common situations that people experience on a regular basis. Another example is called Social Adventures which teaches social skills, such as initiating conversations and responding appropriately to others.
Another way that technology can help people with autism is by helping them to be more independent and to complete tasks that are a part of daily living. Calendars, to-do lists, and schedules can all be used on electronic devices to support all people including those with autism.
Safety, Technology, and Autism
Technology is changing the lives of people with autism. There are many benefits of technology for people with autism. With that being said, safety should also be a top priority when it comes to allowing people with autism to use technology. Children especially should be taught about and protected from the potential dangers of the internet. Even adults with autism can be subject to cyberbullying, inappropriate advances from people on the internet, and other unsafe situations that arise when using technology.
Caregivers and educators of people with autism should ensure that those they care for are safe while using technology, but they should also use technology effectively to improve the quality of life of children and adults with autism.
How Technology Can Help Children with Autism. (2020). Hidden Talents ABA. Retrieved April 5, 2023 from: https://hiddentalentsaba.com/how-does-technology-help-autism/
Valencia, K., Rusu, C., Quiñones, D., & Jamet, E. (2019). The Impact of Technology on People with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Systematic Literature Review. Sensors (Basel, Switzerland), 19(20), 4485. https://doi.org/10.3390/s19204485