With the growing use of technology in everyday lives, parents and educators try to find ways to use it to benefit students. The pool of educational games, videos and apps expands as new devices become available, and putting them in the hands of autistic students helps keep these kids up to pace with their peers. The online activities in which high-functioning autistic students can engage can help them reach personal and educational goals.
Most children with autism struggle with social skills because they have difficulty reading emotions or responding appropriately to a given situation. Some online games take students through a role-playing activity in which they encounter a scenario and have to recognize facial expressions or choose the most appropriate response to an example of upsetting behavior, such as bullying. Similarly, videos show a given situation and freeze at particular points to show various components of social interaction, such as body language.
Verbal and Language Skills
Children with autism also tend to have difficulty with verbal and language skills, and numerous online programs target areas of speech therapy. Children with autism can practice these skills even outside of their therapy sessions. Activities might include filling in the blanks with example sentences, practicing minimal pairs, or recording their own conversations and playing them back to listen and make notes on progress. Many of these games are goal oriented, so students earn points, pass to a harder level or earn other achievements, which is motivating to children with high-functioning autism.
Children with autism can learn to identify colors, shapes, faces, words or other objects through online games. These activities will likely follow a discrete trial training process, meaning the game will prompt students with a question or request, such as “click on the color blue.” When students click on the blue color, they will receive immediate feedback, such as confetti graphics on the screen and a voice saying, “You did it!” As with the activities for verbal and language skills, online identification games are often goal-oriented in order to encourage and motivate the student.
Daily Living Skills
Interactive videos and activities can also teach high-functioning autistic students how to complete daily living activities. For example, students can scroll through a list of tasks that must be completed to get ready for school, which might include images of making the bed, getting dressed, eating breakfast, brushing teeth and getting in the car. Other activities let a student choose which outfit is appropriate for the day’s weather.
Cara Batema is a musician, teacher and writer who specializes in early childhood, special needs and psychology. Since 2010, Batema has been an active writer in the fields of education, parenting, science and health. She holds a bachelor's degree in music therapy and creative writing.