Using computer technology and games as strength for your child’s learning.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects communication, social interaction, and behavior. Children with Autism or any other disability for that matter, may have difficulty learning and may struggle with academic tasks, such as reading, writing, and math. However, with the help of technology, children with Autism can expand their learning and improve their cognitive, social, and emotional skills.
In my today’s blog, I will explore and discuss how computers can be used to enhance the learning experience of children with disabilities/ (ASD).
1. Visual Learning Tools
For many children on the autism spectrum, computer technology is a blessing. It fits their learning style perfectly – visual, focus on detail/patterns, minimal social interaction, immediate feedback, and very stimulating to the executive functioning part of the brain.
Children with Autism often learn better through visual aids, and computers can provide a vast array of visual learning tools. Interactive software and games that incorporate bright colors, graphics, and animation can make learning more engaging and enjoyable for these children. Hence, these tools can help children with ASD learn new concepts, such as vocabulary, math, and science, by presenting information in a visually appealing way.
2. Social Skills Training
Children with Autism may have difficulty with social interaction, such as maintaining eye contact, initiating conversations, and interpreting social cues. Computer programs and apps can be used to teach and reinforce these skills. For example, social skills training software can simulate real-life social situations and provide children with feedback on their responses. This feedback can help children with ASD understand social cues and improve their communication skills. Whereas for many neurotypical children, computer technology may be hampering direct social skills and possibly fostering a dependency on high visual stimulation, for kids on the spectrum, this technology can foster social skills and offer a medium to use their skills.
3. Assistive Technology
Assistive technology applications in Computer and other devices can help children with Autism overcome their learning difficulties. For example, text-to-speech software can help children with reading difficulties, while speech recognition software can help children with writing difficulties. These tools can make learning more accessible and can help children with ASD achieve their academic goals.
Gamification is the process of using game design elements in non-game contexts, such as education. Gamification can be used to make learning more fun and engaging for children with Autism. For example, educational games can be used to teach math, reading, spellings, word formation, grammar and other academic skills. These games can be designed to provide instant feedback, stars, rewards, points, levels and challenges, which can motivate children to continue learning.
It’s important to move beyond simple arcade-type games and into more educational software like Sim City, history adventures, problem-solving games, engineering (Lego software), construction games, astronomy software, mathematical games, kahoot numbers, minecraft and more. Try to find games that combine software with building something or researching a favorite topic. Find what skills and interests the child has and buy software or download apps and games that expands on them.
5. Personalized Learning
Children with disabilities may have different learning needs, preferences, and styles. Computers can be used to create personalized learning experiences for these children. For example, adaptive learning software can adjust the difficulty level of the content based on the child’s performance. This can help children learn at their own pace and can provide them with a sense of accomplishment. Computers also allow children to move at their own pace (fast or slow) and give them immediate feedback and reactions. Essentially, it allows many people on the spectrum to let their talents shine and develop. Naturally, they would feel very safe and competent in utilizing computer technology.
6. Learning through Video Games
Video games have often been associated since ages with negative consequences such as addiction and social isolation. However, for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), computer technology and video games can be a blessing. The unique features of video games, such as visual learning, minimal social interaction, immediate feedback, and focus on detail/patterns, align perfectly with the learning style of many children on the spectrum. These features can also stimulate the executive functioning part of their brains and foster the development of their talents. Let’s discuss further how to turn video games into strengths for children on the Autism spectrum by using their interests and strengths and a skill set to expand their learning and development.
The best way to motivate individuals on the spectrum is to work with their potentials, strengths, interests, areas they love and what allows them to feel competent and challenging enough. With video games, we can use their strengths to build competencies and expand their learning. Regular video games can be expanded into more functional learning games. For example, children who enjoy construction games can be introduced to astronomy software, mathematical games, or research games that focus on their favorite topic. The goal is to teach children to use video games and computers to learn and expand their interests, rather than focus on pencil and notebook kind of learning.
Interactive games that involve physical activity and co-regulation with others, such as Wii, are also valuable. Newly developed software for teaching social skills, facial expressions, social problem-solving, and video modeling are excellent resources. By focusing on these interactive games, children on the spectrum can improve their social skills while also engaging in physical activity.
7. Expanding video game interests
Video games can be used to expand children’s interests in various fields such as drafting, engineering, graphic design, creative writing, blogging, mechanical design, composing music, painting, photography, and many more. Apps, games, and learning software for these interests and skill development are widely available. For example, suppose a child shows an interest in video games that involve analytical and problem-solving. In that case, we can help them expand on that interest by introducing them to more complex games that require them to think critically and use their problem-solving skills. Suppose a child is interested in photography, like the young man in the previous example. In that case, we can get them a digital camera and some photo software, have them sign up for an online photography course, and join a photography message board. They can develop, crop, and categorize photos, develop a website to display their photos, and eventually connect with some amateur photography groups in the community. If their main interest is animals, they can take photos of animals and connect with animal interest groups or research animals on the internet. Similarly, a child who shows interest in creating, designing, innovation can be given graphic design tools like Canva to design graphics. Animals are another area we can use the internet to research and expand this interest. Suppose a child is interested in animals. In that case, we can introduce them to online resources that teach them about different animals and their habitats. They can learn about animal behavior, biology, and more. They can also use video to document their experiences with animals and share their knowledge with others.
8. Working with strengths, interests, and building competencies
The best way to motivate individuals on the spectrum is to work with their strengths, interests, and what allows them to feel competent and Challenging. The best thing to do with computer is to expand them into more functional learning.
Video or visual, is a strong interest for kids on the spectrum, so we need to use this medium to expand their world. Drafting, engineering, graphic design, mechanical design, composing music, painting, photography, and more are all great ways to use video. There are apps, games, and learning software for just about any interest, age and skill level and skill development.
Interactive games, which involves physical activity and co-regulation with others, are also valuable. There is newly developed software for teaching social skills, facial expressions, social problem-solving, and video modeling. These are all great tools. Video interplay is a good tool that maximizes one of the strengths of many people on the spectrum.
Statutory warning ⚠️
Yes, it’s true that it needs to be controlled and integrated with other learning and activity, but it can be used to develop several skills. Since it is a medium that the kids feel very comfortable with, we should use it for development in many areas.
Let’s not suppress the main strength that they have; let’s steer it in the right direction.
So, it’s evident that computer and video games can be powerful tools for children on the autism spectrum. By working with their strengths and interests, we can use these mediums to help them develop new skills, learn new things, and connect with others in new and exciting ways. It’s important to remember that we need to use technology in a controlled and integrated way and encourage children to explore other areas of interest and activity.
Concluding today’s blog, computer technology and video games can be a great asset for children on the Autism spectrum. By focusing on their interests and strengths, we can turn video games into strengths for these children. It is essential to encourage the use of computer and video games for learning and development, rather than relying on arcade-style games. By doing so, we can foster social skills, physical activity, and competency development in children on the spectrum. The use of video games and technology is not meant to be a substitute for direct social interaction, but it is a tool that can be used to supplement and expand the child’s social, academic, and developmental skills.
Hope you enjoyed reading my blog and got plenty of ideas to integrate computer in your child’s learning. Look no further grab your laptop and get going with your child.
Do not forget to provide your valuable feedback and share this blog with other parents who are facing similar challenges.
Author Shilpi Mayank Awasthi
Creative representation for this blog is done by our extremely talented CreativeSaathi associate Morpheus Nag