Children with autism and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) tend to be more interested in things than people. This causes problems with everything from language skills to social skills.
In other cases, they lack psychomotor skills, so they struggle to perform daily tasks, leaving them dependent on caregivers. In all of these cases, technology being developed today could revolutionize their lives and dramatically improve their quality of life.
Let’s take a look at some of the technological advances being used in the treatment and integration of autistic children today, and how they could affect their future.
Minaya Robotics Training System is a robotic system intended to supplement existing occupational therapy programs. There are six skill training units or STUs. Together, they address around thirty cognitive and psychomotor skills.
These devices help children improve their sense of direction, hand-eye coordination, and follow verbal instructions. By combining learning and play, they quickly grasp these concepts. Sometimes these are little things that have a major impact on one’s life.
For example, the joystick STU teaches them to correct palmar grasp, so they are able to hold doorknobs and bottles correctly. The interface unit automatically captures data saved to the cloud that can be analyzed by doctors and teachers.
The physical therapist can then focus on the areas the child needs to work on most. This technology was designed for children with autism, but it can be used for children with cerebral palsy and other disabilities as well.
Parents are their child’s first advocates and greatest resources. There are online and digital resources available to help you. For example, Autism Parenting Magazine offers everything from nutrition to advice on online tools and software that can help you. For instance, they have a section specifically on vitamins for autism.
They explore different autism supplements and their benefits, and how certain autism vitamins can help reduce the manifestations of ASD. There are various supplements for autism spectrum disorder, so it’s essential that you research which ones might be helpful for your child.
You can use online resources like this to communicate with other parents, too. Many sites have forums where parents can share their stories and swap tips. It’s a way of feeling a part of the community, even when you can’t socialize easily. This helps to prevent a sense of isolation, which can be a problem for parents of special needs children, especially single parents.
We often forget the importance of effective communication. Communication problems impact one’s quality of life. As children grow up, poor communication skills limit the development of social skills and personal relationships. Eventually, it affects their educational access.
Augmentative and alternative communication strategies or AACs help those who have trouble expressing themselves to have a “voice”. Devices like tablet computers and handheld devices have been widely adopted because they’re lighter, cheaper, and more flexible than traditional AAC devices.
The touch screen’s layout is more accessible for someone with coordination and learning difficulties. For example, tapping and sliding on a screen is easier for someone with poor coordination than typing on a keyboard, and it doesn’t require knowing how to read and spell well.
Furthermore, handheld devices increase peer acceptance because a child can interact almost normally with other children while carrying it, while the device itself is familiar to other children. Technology continues to support communications and interactions, whether they move on to email or texting.
This is a boon for those with difficult handwriting. You also have more time to collect your thoughts and express them digitally than in face-to-face conversation. Yet the device can translate images or typed words to express them more clearly than the child can themselves.
One of the areas that are the most promising is when it comes to VR and AR solutions for autistic children. These can have a great effect on a child’s development and get them prepared for real-life situations while being assisted by a therapist, parent, or counselor.
Not only that but the tool is also being used to teach others what it feels like to be an autistic child. This helps put the disorder in perspective for parents and helps them change their approach to their child.
One of the areas where virtual reality has been used to treat children with autism is to prepare them for public speaking. VR technology can also be helpful for the treatment of phobias, which can be crippling to autistic children. We can expect many more applications as the technology is becoming more accessible and mainstream
The next generation has been described as digital natives. A number of tools and technologies promise to include and support children with autism and ASD.