There is a small start up business in Philadelphia making a lot of noise in the autistic community. Michele McKeone, a teacher at South Philadelphia High School, noticed a need for autistic children she taught to learn technological skills so she took the ball and ran with it.
In the world we live in, technology has blended into our lives in such a way that if you aren’t able to use it, you’re at a disadvantage. Unfortunately for autistic children (and adults), they’re already at a disadvantage and those who teach and deal with autistic people tend not to focus as much on the benefits that technology can give to those who fall on the spectrum. McKeone recognized this, and started teaching her autistic students how to do basic things like how computers work, email, and using the internet.
"You have to raise expectations," McKeone said. "There's no reason I can't teach students coding if they can learn e-mail. It's about sequencing. It's about executive function." Giving autistic children the opportunity to succeed will yield amazing results. Autism is one of the most difficult disorders to diagnose and treat, due to the wide variety of symptoms that differ from child to child.
Many parents across the nation have testified how technology has helped their autistic child. Lynn, a mother of a 3 year old autistic boy tells the Autism Speaks organization how technology has helped her son: “My son is three years old and after months of using my laptop and Android phone to play games, we decided to get him an iPad. Best.Decision. Ever. Yes, it was expensive but well worth the money & in just two weeks, my son is communicating for the first time with Tap To Talk. He is playing games he never had patience/focus/attention for before like match games and puzzles. iPad = Miracle in our house!"
Giving autistic children access to technology can make all the difference. There is a myriad of “Assistive Technology” tools available to those with autism, but how do you know which to choose? Start by identifying where your child falls on the spectrum. Your next step will be to research what is available for your child’s specific disorder. Speak with the school counselors at your child’s school, find a support group, and research online to find the best help available.
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