COMPUTERS IN SENSORY INTEGRATION
Studies have suggested that computer use can help
to calm children on the autism spectrum, while stimulating their ability to communicate. Autistic
children may prefer interaction with a computer interface because
they can actively control it, and therefore communication through
this medium may be less threatening than face-to-face conversation.
Focused attention in Autism and Asperger's syndrome
Monotropism, or very focused attention with a
limited scope, can be a feature in Autism
and Asperger's syndrome.
It has been suggested that this attentional difficulty can be alleviated
by the use of computers because the medium helps the user to combine
different focuses of attention successfully, therefore helping the
user in other areas. Currently, there is little evidence that the
benefits of computer use do extend to other media though.
Individuals on the autism spectrum often have
a kind of tunnel vision,
where attention is tunneled, objects are isolated and deprived of
context (people with Autism have monotropic interest systems). Tunneled
interest systems make for an alarming world, fragmented, disconnected.
A computer is unthreatening and controllable. It provides a comfortable
environment which facilitates therapeutic transactions in which
communication, sociability and imaginative play spontaneously occur.
Potential benefits of computers as an Autism intervention therapy
Computers can be an ideal environment for promoting
communication, sociability, creativity, and playfulness for individuals
even at the extreme of the autism spectrum. The potential for
computers in Autism is not just educational but therapeutic. Computers
afford an easy way of joining attention tunnels with minimal mutual
discomfort, so circumventing some of the most disabling features
of Autism and Asperger's. Intensely focused interests may bring
dividends lost to children who typically model their world within
broad contexts, bearing many interests simultaneously in mind.
Self-respect and mutual respect may emerge, and
even thrive outside the computer sessions. Computers offer scope
for play, exploration and creativity in a safe environment which
need make no verbal demands. Most of the time, most of us have multiply
divided attention. We generally have many interests simultaneously
aroused and ready to digest information (we have polytropic interest
Computers may also provide benefits in issues
• Visual tracking/scanning
• Eye-hand coordination
• Spatial analysis/synthesis.
Obsessive use of computers by autistic children
Although computers can be an effective intervention
tool for Autism or Asperger's syndrome, a child can become obsessed
with computers. Time limits may need to be set on how many hours
it can be used each day, and for what activities.
As a child becomes older and uses the Internet,
guidelines will need to be set about appropriate material to be
viewed, the correct use of chat rooms, protection of privacy and
guarding against Internet scams and viruses.
Click here for the full
range of Asperger's and Autism fact sheets at www.autism-help.org
This autism fact sheet is licensed under the GNU
Free Documentation. It is derivative of an Autism and Asperger's
syndrome-related articles at http://en.wikipedia.org