By Aidan Dunn, SkillCorps® Assistant at the Global Autism Project
Hello readers! Today, I’ll be talking about how the rise in modern technology affects people with autism. Again, this is just a brief take on this subject. There are a lot of other authors who have written about this topic and in greater detail than I will be going into, so check them out if you have the time. Likewise I am sure all of my readers have read about the dangers of technology either via an article or science fiction. If somehow you have managed to make your way through life without encountering either, then for God’s sake, pick up a book. (I recommend Frankenstein personally). I’m also not going to talk about medical tech- this blog post is about how tech can be used by an everyday person with autism. With that out of the way, let’s talk tech.
One of the biggest challenges for the Autistic community is communicating with others. We often don’t understand certain minutia involved in talking to others, or feel mentally exhausted trying to follow a conversation. There are two major ways that technology can help us deal with this issue. The first way, way technology can help us is through app based training. There are a number of apps that have been developed specifically to help the Autistic and others with learning disabilities. By playing games designed to teach communicative skills, people can strengthen their ability to hold conversations and interact with others in a way that could otherwise be taught only via personal training such as through being taught by an ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) Professional.
The other way tech can help us autistics is by giving us a speedy alternative to face to face conversation. A lot of us autistics have difficulty talking to others whether in person or over the phone but are much better at expressing ourselves via the written word. I know I personally have difficulty talking to people. While I can hold and navigate a conversation with a fair bit of willpower, I find that if I don’t immediately know the answer to something that I will stutter or misspeak. Even when I’m prepared for a conversation, I find I can’t stay long as I feel exhausted from mentally keeping up with everyone talking and making eye contact. I’m even worse when it comes to addressing a group and this is all after years of training. By contrast, I am quite confident in my writing and I earned a few awards for my essays while in college. While I can’t say that these blog posts are quite on that level (they’re more in line with trains of thought than carefully plotted and edited academic papers) I feel that I am able to get across my thoughts far better than I would by making videos in the way a number of my colleagues have done. Technology for me then means that I don’t have to call work to nervously explain that my alarm clock didn’t go off- I can text work instead. I don’t have to tell a crowd what being autistic is like- I can write about it. And write I have and will for the foreseeable future.
That’s all for now dear readers! I hope you enjoyed today’s talk and I’ll write again next week.
*The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Global Autism Project.*