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Autism Communication Resources: Computers and Technology

written by: Kathy Foust • edited by: Lamar Stonecypher • updated: 2/17/2012

Autistic children often have problems with verbal communication. There are a number of solutions involving technology to communicate with children that have a hard time expressing themselves verbally.

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    Verbal communication is often one of the issues that those on the autism spectrum live with daily. It doesn't mean they are ignoring you or that there are physical problems with the ears or physical items linked with oral communication. What it does mean is that you need to try something besides talking if you want to communicate with the individual who has autistic communication issues. Don't give up help on verbal communication, just understand that there may be other steps you need to take before you can assist the autistic individual in verbalizing their thoughts.

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    Try a Digital Conversation with a PC

    Thankfully, technology can help us with these issues. A minimal requirement would be to have a computer of some sort. If you feel you aren't ready for that step yet, then try some of the Leap pad programs for young learners. These programs are such that the individual takes an electronic pencil and presses on a picture in the book. The book then says the name of the picture. In this way, your child can begin to understand the sounds that are equated with the pictures.

    On way to be sure that you are using the right technology is to have open communication with your health care provider. They can tell you what kind of tools will be beneficial to the autistic learner. Working with health care providers and educators can be very helpful when using new technology. However, make sure to do your own research and make it possible for you to present ideas to those involved with the autistic child.

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    Things to Consider

    Here are some things to consider when using technology to assist with communication in autism.

    • Flickering screens. It is found that some students with autism are irritated or otherwise bothered by flickering screens. Keep this in mind if you plan to use a computer as laptops don't seem to have the flickering problem that some other screens may have.
    • Motor skills. Some autistic students have problems with their motor skills and may need to have hardware that makes it easier for them to use the computer. Such hardware may include trackballs, switches and touch screens.
    • Simple software. Autistic students may be distracted by certain sounds. They may focus on those sounds and forget why they are actually using the program. This may lead to the autistic student doing things like repeatedly hitting an answer to get the response they are enjoying. If this seems like a likely situation then you may want to research software to avoid these issues.
    • Irritation by sounds. Some sounds irritate some autistic students. Check the program you want to use to see if these sounds are used. You want to avoid these to obtain optimum results.

    These are just some of the items offered along with some things that should be considered when purchasing hardware and software to assist in dealing with autism.

Autism Communication

Worried about communicating with an autistic child? Though autism affects the communication skills of the autistic person, techniques have developed to adapt to this issue. This series explores some of the communication issues faced as well as providing tips on overcoming some of these issues
  1. Autism and Communication Issues
  2. Autism Communication Resources: Computers and Technology