Like most of you, I’ve been holiday shopping, trying to deliver meaning with a gift. Commercials, advertisements, and word of mouth are abuzz with the iPad and the Kinect. If you want one or know someone who does, let’s take a minute to consider how the “hot” gifts for the season are possibilities because of and for those on the autism spectrum.
1. iPad: A quick Google search demonstrates what opportunities the visually driven technology of the iPad and iTouch have to offer people with ASDs. Shortly after its debut, the iPad was featured in The Huffington Post. A mother of a child with autism reported how the app Tom the Talking Cat repeats back out loud whatever you say, enabling kids to hear themselves as they tell a story. Further, Shannon Des Roches Rosa at Squidalicious.com writes of her son, “Before the iPad, Leo’s autism made him dependent on others for entertainment, play, learning, and communication. With the iPad, Leo electrifies the air around him with independence and daily new skills.”
The uses and the possibilities of this technology are endless. The limitation is price. I’m going to take a not-so-big leap and suggest that much of the genius behind the innovation at Apple is rooted in individuals with ASD. I’d love to see Apple pay it forward (or backward, depending on how you look at it) by donating some of that wonderful technology to the people who need it most — those who can not communicate without it.
2. Kinect: Let’s face it. Kinect changes every thing. Old-school, controller-based video games, in general, have opened a social world to my clients that was non-existent in the not-so-distant past. Not only do video games provide a conversational topic and a playdate activity, they also demonstrate commonalities and prowess to peers.
Can they be overplayed? Absolutely. Can they introduce some ideas, scenarios, and visuals that are not always appropriate? Without question. But these negatives are off-set by bringing family and friends together in one room and reducing the motor-challenges prone to individuals with ASD and plaguing the two-remote system of the Wii.
Oh, and by the way, I have three clients in college programs for video game development.
The ASD-iPad-Kinect benefits are clear. What is not is how to put this technology in more hands. If you have ideas or successes in this area, please let me know.