Using New Technology in Moderation when Treating Children with Autism

By Paula Pinto

Powerful isolation is said to be counterproductive to aiding children with autism.

Repetition and echolalia are only one aspect of working with children with autism.

Repetition and echolalia are only one aspect of working with children with autism.

New technology programs are promising parents “quick fixes” to help their autistic children, but just as anything else, these programs are to be used in moderation along with other techniques that are based on aiding social interaction.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, children with autism process visual information easier than auditory information. Any time we use assistive technology devices with these children, we’re giving them information through their strongest processing area (visual). Therefore various types of technology from “low” tech to “high” tech, should be incorporated into every aspect of daily living in order to improve the functional capabilities of children with autism.

However, over the past few years there has been an exasperating flow of computer games, television shows, and sight and sound technology devices that are luring parents to utilize them as a main source to treat children with autism. Unquestionably, many of  these devices have focused parents caring for children with autism to fix their attention on these assisting  tools, and place less emphasis on  one-on-one social enhancing techniques.

While many of these new programs may be helpful in aiding their progress, when parents turn solely to these technological devices, it is said to create somewhat of a barrier between the autistic child and both therapists and parents. Apparently the repetition of sight and motions are so insidious that caregivers  are having trouble invading the space between their child and the device.

According to Education Week, experts are leery as to the amount of time that these technological devices ae being used to treat children with autism.

“Those students need help with social skills, says Yvonne Domings, the instructional designer and research associate at the Wakefield, Mass.-based Center for Applied Special Technology, a nonprofit organization that researches learning opportunities for students with disabilities, and “that’s just not what computers are good at,” she says. “Computers and video games are not going to teach a kid with autism how to interact socially.”

Repetition and echolalia are only one aspect of working with children with autism. When these devices are being completely trusted to correct the behaviors in autistic children, parents will be disappointed with the results. The colors, sounds, and motion invite children into their own world rather than focusing on social interaction.  Such a powerful isolation is said to be counterproductive to aiding children with autism.

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