Cyborg Anthropology

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Autism and Computer Communication

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Discussion

For some autistic people, who do manage to learn to read and write, communication using a computer keyboard or reception using a visual document, either displayed on a computer screen or printed up, could be easier than verbal communication or reception, especially due to the marked preference shown by a high number of autistic people for visual stimuli but also because of the permanence of visual stimuli compared with the transitory nature of auditory stimuli. However, great care is called for in this area in view of certain overly optimistic views linked to the use of a technique known as "Facilitated Communication" [1].

Autism and Social Cues

Those with autism may have a difficult time picking up on the social cues of others.

"I have very little experience with people on the Autistic spectrum, but designer Timothy Byrne of Western Washington University has a brother with an autistic disorder, a fact the propelled him to invent “Sixthsense for Autism”. Building upon MIT’s Pranav Mistry’s SixthSense technology, this conceptual project tries to provide its user social cues for everyday situations" [2]

Amanda Baggs

See: In My Language by Amanda Baggs

Autism and iPad Use

For autistic children, the new iPad is an effective, portable device for teaching communication and social skills. It’s also way cool.

"...Rosa had no expectations when she handed her son the iPad — a half-inch-thick, touch-screen tablet computer three times the size of its smaller cousin, the iPod. Though scrolling through the icons is easy for most users, the device was not created with special-needs consumers in mind.

So when Leo took it in his small hands as if it were an old friend, and, with almost no training, whizzed through its apps like a technology virtuoso, his mother gasped in amazement. After he began spending 30 minutes at a time on apps designed to teach spelling, counting, drawing, making puzzles, remembering pictures, and more, she sat down at her own computer.

"With the iPad, Leo electrifies the air around him with independence and daily new skills," Rosa typed into an entry for BlogHer, a blogging network of women for which she edits and writes. Her blog was one of the first to bring widespread public attention to what one expert has called "a quiet revolution" for the autism community.

Since the iPad's unveiling in April, autism experts and parents have brought it into countless homes and classrooms around the world. Developers have begun pumping out applications specifically designed for users with special needs, and initial studies are already measuring the effectiveness of the iPod Touch and the iPad as learning tools for children with autism. Through the devices, some of these children have been able to communicate their thoughts to adults for the first time. Others have learned life skills that had eluded them for years"

Source: http://www.sfweekly.com/2010-08-11/news/ihelp-for-autism/1/ iHelp for Autism