Autism and Technology

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According to a recent report by The Telegraph, the number of children being diagnosed as autistic has risen by 56% over the last 5 years, meaning that now 1 in 125 children are on the autistic spectrum (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/9160322/Number-of-children-with-autism-soars-by-more-than-50-per-cent-in-five-years.html) All kinds of autism across the spectrum are incurable and have various levels of severity, but today’s technology is helping educators to reach pupils of all ages.

The National Autistic Society has been collaborating with schools and universities to develop educational technology including several games and programmes to help educate autism sufferers. For example, one of the major symptoms of autism is the inability to recognize other people’s emotions, so they have developed a PacMan-style game with happy and frowny faces to help autistic children recognize facial cues. Another prominent part of autism is the need to have routine and order consistently, which the repetitive nature of the technology can provide.

Another useful piece of technology is the Proloquo2Go application for iDevices, created by AssitiveWare in 2009. Using pictures, it helps non-verbal Autisic children “speak”, thus helping them communicate with those around them;

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-18694168 )

Although technology can be a useful tool, it is most definitely not a magic bullet and, like anything, all pupils will benefit from the technology differently, depending on their individual personalities and requirements. That being said, anything that gives people on the autism spectrum a chance to have the same opportunities as everyone else is a bonus and the games and programmes developed so far have made a huge difference in hundreds of pupils’ lives.

For further information, try http://www.autism.org.uk/ and http://www.tacanow.org/