Hi-Tech Makes it Happen For Autistics and Families

Technology exists to make our lives easier. For autistic people and their families, technology offers a wealth of tools, support, and career opportunities that weren’t available even a decade ago.

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) often respond positively to computers and tablets, and so the use of interactive technology in classrooms has become more and more common.  There are apps that aid communication, allowing people classified as non-verbal to express themselves with words for the first time. There are apps that help develop motor skills, sensory skills, and present educational information in a format that autistic children are more receptive to than a teacher talking at the front of the class. There are apps to help reduce stress, monitor therapies and progress, and to diagnose autism.  There are even apps in development to translate emotions for people with autism.

Technology has also made great strides towards keeping our autistic children safe. It is now feasible for schools to have surveillance cameras and door alarms. If a child with ASD does manage to leave school or home unnoticed, tracking devices are available to ensure they are located as quickly as possible. Through social media and the internet, it is faster and easier than ever to get the word out and mobilize the community in support of a lost child or new legislation.

Social media has changed the way we communicate as a culture, and offers support networks and social outlets for parents and autistic people. It may not be possible for the mother of an autistic child to meet up with her peers for some supportive adult time, but now she can reach out from her phone and instantly get input, support, or just a little social interaction. Social media also makes it easier for some autistic people to engage people, make friends, and share their thoughts without the anxieties and difficulties posed by in-person communication. It allows people with autism to connect with each other and share support, but it also allows autistic people to engage with everybody else on a more equal playing field.

Finally, with the increasing pervasiveness of technology comes exponential growth in the field that offers the most conducive work environments and employment opportunities for people with ASD. Many people on the autism spectrum are better suited to work in software and technology careers because of their heightened abilities to recognize patterns, sort through hundreds of pages of code for one syntax error, focus on repetitive tasks. It also helps that social skills are often less of a priority job requirement in technology fields. More and more computer companies are adapting employment programs for people with autism and several software companies give preference to hiring people with autism.

Life with autism is full of challenges for children, adults, and their families. Autism is hard and probably always will be. Through the magic of technology, however, it is definitely easier for people with autism to learn, develop, communicate, build relationships, and even have successful careers than ever before.

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