Technology and autism – Dr Sue Fletcher – Warson’s guidelines

Flickr/Kamilla Oliveira

The use of technology is a continuously debated topic, how much is too much, what is beneficial, what isn’t, etc. For a parent whose child is autistic, the decision to introduce their child to a device can be overwhelming. To help parents with questions they might have, Dr. Sue Fletcher-Watson from The University of Edinburgh compiled data from a study she conducted with over 200 parents of children with autism and also used published research to create “Technology and autism: guideline for parents”.




The guideline was created to “empower parents to make good choices in the best interest of children with and without autism”. It provides advice to parents who want to introduce their autistic child to some type of technology device. It uses the information collected from parents to show statistics of which type of technology is most popular, what games were most popular, what different age groups use the technology for, and a number of other things.

The guide points out a number of advantages using technology has and also shares the benefits of some of the children have had because of technology. One parents says “It gives her something to talk about at school, she talks about Minecrafts” while another parent points out “sometimes he watches something on YouTube, like tooth-brushing, and then he understands what to do in real life”.

The guidelines gives parents a number of tips to help manage how much time should be spent with technology and points out that it should only be one of that approaches to help the child learn and develop. It encourages parents to embrace technology and use it to help their children grow, learn, and develop to their full potential!

Some examples include:

Tips for choosing hardware: look for second hand purchases if you can’t afford new ones; hard cases for protection are necessary; Android tablets are cheaper but there are more apps available for Apple products; portable and light products are important; etc.

Tips for choosing software: apps that cost money sometimes have smaller, free versions: test before you purchase; look at online reviews; don’t just focus on autism-specific technologies; etc.

Tips for managing screen time: start off with a routine: restricting access can be difficult after being able to use technology freely; use battery life to advantage: technology needing to be charged is good way to end use; play with your child; etc,

What do you think about these tips? Do you find it usefull? Which ones do you agree most? What would you add to them? What’s your experience?


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photo: Flickr/Kamilla Oliveira

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Posted by: Lauren Brant