Technology on the Spectrum: Emerging “New” Trends

Posted by: in Customer Experience, Thinking Creatively on March 4, 2011

If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you’ll know that my son has Asperger’s, and that I’m personally and professionally interested in seeing how technology can aid those on the spectrum (e.g., with socialization, reading emotion, showing empathy).

With that in mind, there are two developments taking shape in my house… the adoption of technologies that definitely aren’t trending on Techmeme.

Enter the age of email.

My wife and I recently set my son up with a Gmail account. We did so, initially, to allow him to share Flip videos with family.  He’s completely taken to it and has started to have email conversations with grandparents, cousins, and, most recently, friends from school. He loves to add emoticons to help express how he’s feeling.  The other day he came home with the email addresses of three friends and “HAD TO” send an email to one before going to the dentist. 

Say what you want about email…to us, this is a clear way that technology is having a positive impact on our son.  He’s connecting with people, sharing information and emotion — and growing those relationships on/offline.  With many Aspies, interests can sometimes escalate into obsessions.  As long as we establish clear boundaries and internet safety, email communication removes all the vague “tone and irony” stuff from his interpersonal conversations. Win!

Hello Caller! 

Although he’s been known to have longwinded, often one-directional phone conversations with family, it is just recently that my son has been making/receiving phone calls with friends from school.  To hear him have a 20 minute conversation with a friend (and let the other person talk!) brings a smile to my face.  This might not seem like a big deal, but, the phone, like email, is helping him socialize and that will pay dividends offline as well.

Ok, so no major tech breakthroughs here today folks.  Sometimes it’s the simple things that make a difference.

What do you think?  Should I spring for the iPad2 (check out this video from the iPad2 lauch re: autism education) or ride the email fad for a bit?

By: Mark Bennett

Group Director

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4 Responses

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  1. Jay Linder said

    Right on, Mark. We’re still trying to read the tea leaves in connection with our son’s PPD-NOS diagnosis, but have observed his strong attraction to technology, including our computer and smart phones. At 2 1/2 years of age, it seems to us that technology has provided a vehicle for Wiley to better emote, interact and engage – but only with parental participation which, of course, is something that all parents have to buy into at the outset.

  2. amy said

    Your son is one lucky guy! To have parents that care as much as you and your wife do …is wonderful. I am happy to call you my friends….and I’d travel with your guys ANYWHERE!!!

  3. Mark Bennett said

    Thanks Jay, Amy, for your comments, much appreciated.

    Jay, it sounds like you guys are being proactive about it from the start and intersting to hear the observations you’ve noted above.

    Best,
    MB

  4. Barbara McQueen said

    Did you purchase iPad2? My daughter is diagnosed PDD-NOS and loves her Facebook account. Avery is 21 and still has a difficult time with the telephone. While she will use it, it is not her 1st choice for communication…then again, most kids abandoned the phone for texting and texting for tweeting. Enjoy your posts!

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