How Technology Can Help
Transition Tool Kit
In today’s day and age, it seems our whole world revolves around smart phones, tablets and the internet. “Google It!” or “I’ll ‘friend’ you later!” or “Did you see that Tweet?” are just a few of the popular phrases associated with the internet and online social networking that can be heard almost everywhere we turn.
The goals and uses of technology are very different for adolescents and young adults. These tools can be very empowering for adolescents transitioning into young adulthood, especially for individuals with autism. Technology can help your child become more independent, work on his or her challenges and improve upon his or her strengths.
How Technology Can Help
Below is a list of just some of the ways technology can help your child:
Likely the most common use of technology to help children and adults with autism is to improve communication skills. There are hundreds of apps and many built-in features of these devices that can help support individuals with autism at all levels and abilities. One app for example could be geared toward a nonverbal child or adult, while another can help with social cues for an individual with strong verbal communication skills.
Visual schedules on tablets can be a great tool to help your child complete tasks and work on skills like self-care and daily living. For example, a visual schedule for an evening routine can help him or her learn to manage time and gradually master a routine on his or her own – from an after school snack, to homework, to teeth brushing and everything in between. These visual schedules can be very helpful in helping your child learn independent living skills, among others.
Individuals with autism who have more difficulty communicating can use technology to make their “voices” heard regarding decisions, which helps foster the self-advocacy skills that are so important as they age into adulthood. You can start small, like instead of ordering for your child at a restaurant, he or she can use a smartphone or tablet to point to the item he or she wants.
Technological devices like smartphone and tablets can also serve as motivation for your child. The use of an iPad or a favorite game app can serve as a reward for positive behavior like the completion of a chore or a homework assignment.
Video modeling is a method that involves teaching skills in a visual way. The video could be of the individual him or herself completing a task or assignment, or of a teacher, educator or parent teaching the skills and steps required. Your child can watch these videos as often as he or she likes/needs to help learn important skills. Because the videos involve using a tablet or smartphone, he or she is most likely more interested in learning the skills this way. Video modeling can help with a wide array of skills including hygiene, job tasks and more.
It can sometimes be easier for an individual with autism to socialize via social networking than through the more traditional methods. Making friends or communicating with others online can help him or her work on the skills that might translate at school, work or out in the community.
Technology can be very helpful to some young adults and adults with autism in the workplace. For example, step-by-step checklists can help your child stay on top of tasks and complete them in an orderly and successful manner. Reminders and notes about each task in case he or she forget something, rather than continuously asking an employer or coworker, can also help your child become more independent in the workplace.