How Can Technology Help Children with Autism?

In 2020, the Center for Disease Control reported that 1 out of 54 children in America are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Because of the high numbers, it’s important that parents, family members and educators know how to support someone with ASD.

In this article, we will explore the difficulties that children with autism and their parents face, as well as how technology might be able to ease some symptoms.

Children With Autism Face Many Challenges

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) typically have difficulties in one or both of these areas: social interaction and communication. They may also struggle with:

  •     Maintaining, understanding, and developing relationships
  •     Flexibility when schedules change
  •     Gaining a better understanding of languages
  •     Sleeping
  •     Communication

Parenting a child with autism can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, anger, and isolation. Fortunately, research shows that children with autism can overcome challenges by receiving early diagnosis and utilizing technology. 

As a parent, technology can also be a great resource. According to research, assistive technology for autism improves literacy, social-communicative skills, adaptive skills, and the ability to detect other people’s emotions in children with autism. 

Let’s see below how exactly technology can benefit in this matter:

Transcription 

Transcription is the process of translating speech into text. Unlike captions, transcripts are not necessarily displayed on the screen during a video. Also, transcript text might not match up with specific audio cues.

Transcripts are verbatim records of audio or video content that instructors or producers can distribute in-person and online. These might support students with ASD who have difficulty attending courses due to changing sensory sensitivities.

If students with ASD are struggling to keep up in class, instructors can provide a transcript of the lecture or discussion. This way, they won’t miss any important information. Transcripts can also help them get the most out of other course materials like educational videos or podcasts.

Verbatim provides professional transcription services that can transcribe audio to text in real-time or after the recording is finished. This tool ensures that students who attend class via video conferencing platforms have similar experiences to those physically present in the classroom.

Captioning 

The term captioning refers to the act of transforming an audio recording into text that is then displayed on a screen. By adding captions to your video content, you create more equitable experiences for all viewers, not just those who are Deaf or hard of hearing.

Captions are commonly used as a form of usability & web accessibility accommodations but they can also serve other purposes such as translation and transcription. However, there are many reasons why a student with ASD may wish to enable closed captioning.

Captioning is a valuable assistive technology for autism in the classroom because it can support a wide range of course materials including live classes, online lectures, and more. By captioning recordings of online or in-person discussions, students with ASD can stay engaged and have an equitable experience.

Video and Audio Descriptions with Descriptive Text

Assistive technology can be extremely beneficial for people with autism, and one great example is descriptive video/audio description. Depending on your location, you might use these terms interchangeably.

In the United States, descriptive audio and video are methods used to make visual media accessible for those who are blind or have low vision. These techniques use voiceovers to supplement what is happening on screen with descriptions of characters’ appearances, locations, specific body language, and more. In Canada, “audio description” refers to a tool that uses voiceovers to read any on-screen text and describe visual graphics for viewers with low vision.

This tool not only provides equitable viewing experiences to individuals who are blind or low-vision but also to those with ASD. Some individuals with ASD, for example, need additional support in order to interpret body language and social cues.

Audio descriptions of behaviors improve understanding for viewers, especially instructors that use videos as course materials.

Schedules With Visuals

Tablet visual schedules can be an excellent resource to help your child learn how to complete tasks and master skills such as self-care and daily living. For example, you can use a visual schedule to help him or her learn time management and develop an evening routine – from snacking after school to homework, tooth brushing, and everything else in between. These schedules can also be beneficial in teaching your child other independent living skills.

An Effective Motivational Tool

iPads, smartphones, and other tablets can double as a form of bribery for children. If they complete their chores or get good grades, then they can have some iPad time. This is a great way to motivate your child and help him or her stay on track.

Communication

Technology is often used to improve communication skills in children and adults with autism. There are many apps as well as built-in features of devices that can support individuals with different levels of ability when it comes to autism. One app might be geared towards a nonverbal individual, while another helps with social cues for someone who has strong verbal communication skills.

Video Modeling

Video modeling is a way of teaching that uses visuals. The video could be of the learner completing a task or assignment, or it could show a teacher, educator, or parent carrying out the required skills and steps.

These videos will assist your child in learning vital skills, and because they use a tablet or smartphone, he or she is more likely to be engaged with the material. Video modeling can help with many abilities such as hygiene, job tasks, and beyond.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many ways in which technology can be used to support individuals with autism. It is important to remember that every individual is different and will require different types of support. This is why it is essential to consult with a professional to determine which tools will be most beneficial for your child.

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