COMPUTER TECHNOLOGY AND AUTISM
The use of computer technology with autistic individuals ought to be based on the person and not on any available technology for the handicapped persons. The computer aided technology may involve various fieldst; for an example: assessment of learning skills, computer aided teaching, and assistance in communication. To return to the more immediate implementation of computer aided solutions, especially within the field of computer aided teaching, one will have to look and see which existing programs are most suited to the person’s learning abilities, and not forget to examine non specialized programs, whether this concerns educational programs or games.
Some games, for instance, can provide an opportunity for learning social skills: learning to play in turns for example, or computer simulation in a known environment can help the person learn basic rules, frequently impossible in a real situation. The choice of activities and exercises, adapted to the level of acquisition and emerging abilities, will depend on the assessment. It is these exercises wich will have to be integrated into a computer program. A great many exercises, which are well adapted to the specificity’s of the autist’s learning difficulties, already exist.
Programs such as word processing programs or digital painting programs, are another source of assistance. Many autistic people frequently have difficulty in executing a task such as writing or drawing. This does not involve a lack of artistic ability but rather difficulties linked to disorders accompanying their handicap, motory problems, precise coordination, etc. For autistic people, who do manage to learn to read and write, communication using a computer keyboard, either displayed on a computer screen or printed up, could be easier than verbal communication or reception, especially due to the marked preference shown by a high number of autistic people for visual simuli but also because of the permanence of visual stimuli compared with the transitory nature of auditory stimuli.
Computer technology accepts a certain degree of error. Word processing programs correct spelling mistakes, and computer aided graphics programs allow you to go back over the drawing if it is not quite right. This type of program can be used to help a person tell a story, either with the use of the text or with the help of drawings or even both at once. This can be done individually or collectively. Some musical multimedia programs can be helpful too. As far as teaching to promote socialization and basic rules are concerned, fairly good educational programs are now available. Autism-PDD Resources Network