Getting the most out of technology: advice from, and for, parents

Go to this page for a free downloadable pdf of evidence-based guidelines for parents of autistic children, with advice on how to get the most from technology. The key points are also summarised in this Storify.

Children (and adults) with autism are often keen users of technology, choosing to spend a large part of their leisure time on computers, gamers and other devices. Technology can be harnessed to give benefits, like learning new skills or giving children a chance to be independent. However with so much technology out there, it can be hard to work out which technologies provide these benefits. In addition, parents and professionals have valid worries about whether technology use can get out of hand, or prevent a child with autism from interacting with other people. We conducted a small research project, with the aim to provide evidence-based, practical advice to parents of children with autism to help them get the most benefit from technology and avoid any associated risks.

We carried out a survey of over 200 parents of children with autism in the UK (and about the same number in Spain, thanks to partners at Fundaçion Orange). The goal of this survey was to gather wisdom from parents who were already users of technology, and use their experiences to inform parents who are just starting out with technology, or with a child with autism. In addition to the online survey, we also spoke directly with a handful of parents to investigate the main issues in depth.

As a result of this survey we have now:

  1. published an online pdf giving detailed advice to parents of children with autism on how to get the most from technology: free to download here
  2. contributed to a National Autistic Society web page which distils the key advice from the research

In addition, we’re now carrying out a comparison of attitudes to technology among parents of autistic children in the UK and Spain, and developing this for academic publication.

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