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Posts tagged ‘Media’

Technology & Autism

It’s no secret that technology has completely changed the face of society, especially in the boom of the past 20 years or so. We have things like smart phones, tablets, notebooks, smart watches, etc. which have made things so much easier for all of us. But how does this affect those on the autism spectrum? In what ways can we utilize this new amazing technology to improve life for people with autism and their families? It can act as either a learning tool or a great source of entertainment depending on the context.

Perhaps the most prevalent use of technology in regards to people on the spectrum is that of “assistive technology.” The Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988 describes assistive technology as “any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially, off-the-shelf, modified or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities,” in this case autism. One good example I can think of is an app that one of my mom’s good friends uses with her son called “First-Then Visual Schedule.” Oftentimes visual learning is the primary method for those with autism, and this $10 app helps present a visually stimulating schedule that will help people keep better track of their lives. This is just one example, there are many more out there that do a myriad of different things; here’s a convenient list on parenting.com that features 11 apps including the aforementioned First-Then Visual Schedule.

Technology is not confined to the assistive variety, in fact many use it as a way to stave off boredom. It’s no secret that children with autism particularly love video games, as they talk about here, and with the rise of casual gaming brought about by tablets, there’s a never-ending supply of fun to be had. While tech addiction is a real thing and should be avoided, sometimes as a parent you just need some time to yourself. One of the best ways to keep your children occupied is to get your kid a video game system, or even just an iPad with Candy Crush, Crossy Road or Angry Birds, and they can keep themselves busy for hours at a time. Trust me, I speak from 21+ years of experience.

One interesting thing I would like to highlight is this little gem: Project EVO. It’s a therapeutic tablet game made specifically for kids with autism. Here’s what CBS said about Project EVO: “As they [the kids] go through the game they are supposed to skirt around certain objects while choosing others. The idea is to condition the brain to sift through and organize information in real time, requiring a player to stay focused on the task at hand.” It’s a very interesting concept. The game has not yet been released, but I look forward to tracking its progress.

 

  • G. Sosso

Heartwarming Stories in the Media Regarding Autism

For this blog post, I wanted to veer away from the personal experiences I’ve been writing about, and focus on a few recent inspirational stories by and towards people on the spectrum around the country. Hopefully, showcasing these actions will brighten your day this holiday season. Personally, it warms my heart knowing that there are so many out there who care about the struggles people on the spectrum frequently face, and that we can make a difference if we set our minds to it.

 
The first story I want to share is that of Mike and Eddie Tuckerman, the 18 year-old twins from Philadelphia who recently started their own business! The name of the company is Tuckerboys Noveltees, and they have had a great deal of success selling wrapping paper. The catch is, the paper features the twins’ own original artwork. So not only are they gaining valuable experience in learning how to run a business, they’re turning something they love to do (art) into a job. The Tuckermans’ mother, Sue, learned about the staggering 90% unemployment rate among adults on the spectrum, and wanted to find her kids something to do to keep them busy. Thus, Tuckerboys Noveltees was born. Some of their proceeds are even going towards charity! Great job, boys.

 
Next up on the list comes all the way from Alaska (can’t get much further from Florida than that!). An angry customer called the Little Italy Restaurante to complain about one of their delivery drivers, using foul and hurtful language all the while. The customer accused the driver of being incompetent, and a drug user. The truth is, that employee had both autism and a speech impediment, and when he returned to the restaurant, he told his boss, P.J. Gialopsos, that the customer had harassed him as well. So Gialopsos decided to take a stand; she “fired” the customer, telling her employees to not take any calls or orders from him anymore. But she wasn’t done there. She posted about the incident on the restaurant’s Facebook page, and it unexpectedly went viral, gaining more than 14,000 likes and over 1,500 mostly positive comments. In interviews, Gialopsos has gone on to praise the employee (who wishes to stay anonymous), calling him a talented and hard worker. The overwhelmingly positive response just goes to show that most people in this day and age are compassionate and understanding towards individuals on the spectrum.

 
Finally, I want to talk about probably the two most famous stories that have occurred in the past few months in regards to autism. And that is the two mall Santas, one from North Carolina, and the other from Michigan, who showed incredible patience and kindness to a couple of kids on the spectrum. The boy from Michigan, Landon Johnson, is a huge fan of Santa and the Christmas season. He and his four cousins went to the mall hoping to get pictures with Santa, and when it was his turn, he received the best gift he could ask for. He told Santa he was afraid that he would be put on the naughty list because of his autism, and Santa told him how good of a boy he’s been, and to just keep being himself, a lesson Landon’s mother had been trying to teach him for years now. Now Landon has more confidence in himself, telling his mom later, “Mommy, it’s OK for me to be me. Santa said so.” The other Santa from North Carolina is a classic case of someone going above and beyond to make another happy. Brayden Deely, one of the boys at an Autism Speaks Caring Santa event refused to sit on Santa’s lap, so instead, Santa came to him. He got down on his belly so that he could play with the shy Brayden. The two just bonded for a little while, and eventually Brayden warmed up, and his parents were able to get the pictures they coveted so much. Just doing that little bit extra can mean so much to someone struggling on the spectrum, and I want to personally thank these Santas for being so understanding.

 

Here are the links if you want to read more about the stories I’ve just covered:
http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2015/12/10/twins-with-autism-building-up-their-wrapping-paper-business/?cid=facebook_CBS_Philly
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/restaurant-bans-patron-called-autistic-employee-article-1.2435645
http://www.today.com/parents/mall-santa-goes-extra-mile-boy-autism-they-just-bonded-t59651
http://www.today.com/kindness/boy-autism-forever-connected-santa-who-told-him-its-ok-t60606

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