Sensory Technology for Autism

Technology has come a long way, and within the autism community, these advances offer potentially life-changing support. For example, innovative technologies have proven to help individuals remain calm following overwhelming sensory stimuli.

Can Sensory Technology Help Autism?

Sensory technology can help individuals with autism experience difficulties in sensory processing and innovative technologies have been proven. Sensory technology has shown to be a great tool to address overwhelming sensory stimuli by providing a sensation of calming effects and relaxation. Individuals with autism often enjoy their own company, becoming more engaged when interacting with computers. These interactions occur in a safe, comfortable environment.

Research shows that using technology to help children with autism develop skills is very promising.

While focusing on the fundamental characteristics of autism, technology can assist in several ways.

Sensory technology for autism benefits:

  • Communication — Aside from addressing sensory stimuli, communication is one of the most common reasons to use technology among children with autism. There are currently hundreds of apps that support individuals at all levels. For example, one app may focus on assisting nonverbal children, while another will help children with strong verbal skills better understand social cues.
  • Decision-making — Fostering self-advocacy skills is so important — especially as youth approach adulthood. Technology can help children better understand their decisions and encourage them to voice their choice.
  • Motivation — If your child responds to a reward system, technology can assist your efforts. An iPad game your child loves can serve as a reward for positive behaviors.
  • Visual schedules — Visual schedules on an iPad can support routines and daily living. The goal here is to help your child become more independent.
  • Social networking — For some children, social networking is easier than in-person meetings. Making friends online with your supervision can lead to skills that may translate at school.

Related: 6 Best Autism Apps for Skill Development and Confidence in 2021

Researchers continue to study the benefits of technology for children who have difficulty with sensory integration. Considering up to 96% of children with autism find it difficult to process sensory stimuli, it’s important to consider technology-based products and services that address this area of concern. A prime example of this is weighted vests, which provide deep touch pressure to enhance relaxation.

What Are Some Assistive Technologies for Autism?

Assistive technologies for autism are classified as low-tech and high-tech.

Assistive technologies for autism are put into three primary forms of AAC. These forms are used with individuals with autism and include unaided approaches such as: (signs; gestures), also “low tech” picture based systems (for example, picture exchange communication system-PECS), communication books and boards and speech generating devices (SGDs).

There are benefits of each. A low-tech device is typically easy to operate and inexpensive, whereas a high-tech device is more complex and expansive. In that sense, there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” option. The best technology for your child will depend on their unique needs and abilities.

While addressing sensory issues and other challenges associated with autism, some of the top technologies include:

  • Technology that supports deep pressure therapy
  • Sensory toys and balls
  • Picture boards
  • Social skills videos
  • Visual timers
  • Speech-generating apps
  • Sound-blocking headphones
  • Learning software

The key is early intervention. The sooner you can implement assistive technologies and therapy services into your child’s autism treatment plan, the better. The Pingree Center can help! 

Please contact us today to learn more.