Computers for Children with Autism

Manila Bulletin, November 28, 2010 | Go to article overview

Computers for Children with Autism


MANILA, Philippines - QUESTION: I have a seven year-old son who has autism and he loves computers. But his love for computers gets in the way of in his studies. I've already heard of technology-assisted learning for kids and online education for special children. Do you recommend online education to children with autism? If so, do you know any program online that will best suit my child? Thanks for the help.

Teacher Genevieve says: Technology, when used wisely, can be an efficient tool to augment learning in children with autism.

Being visual learners, children with autism can be motivated to learn using graphic presentations and digital tools. Interactive e-learning activities can provide the necessary practice for mastery learning, without the repetitiveness and redundancy of paper-pencil drills that often lead to frustration in the child with autism. Effectively utilizing assistive technology has been cited as a "best practice" in educating children with special needs.

THE SPECIAL LEARNER IN THE 21ST CENTURY

In the past, students were viewed as "information absorbers" and the teacher as the "source of all knowledge." With advances in technology, students are now considered as "information navigators" and the teacher as a "facilitator for acquiring knowledge." More than simply receiving knowledge, students are now expected to have greater responsibility over their own learning and are expected to become lifelong learners.

For children with autism, ICT (Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can be a useful medium to acquire knowledge and practice newly-learned skills. There are softwares available to target reading, math, communication and life skills; while there are links to e-learning sites that can target academic and functional skills using interactive games.

However, as with all children, care must be taken to supervise your child's behavior online, safeguarding access to prohibited sites and avoiding self-disclosure to strangers. A child with autism can be particularly vulnerable to internet predators.

COMPUTERS AND THE CHILD WITH AUTISM

If the child becomes fixated on using the computer for extended lengths of time, then he will not develop holistically as an individual, particularly in the areas of verbal communication, social interaction, and practical life skills. …

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