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Autism Spectrum and Internet Safety

ANITHA on June 22, 2018

 

iOS and Android devices have become powerful learning tools for kids with attention deficits or other cognitive and learning disabilities.

"Technology can play a critical role in integrating special education into mainstream education, thereby enabling inclusive education for all. Assistive technology can bridge the gap between regular students and those with physical, mental and developmental challenges by helping them learn on par with their non-special peers. Thus, assistive technology links the student’s cognitive abilities to educational opportunities that would not have been available to them otherwise."Breaking Down Barriers for Special Needs Children

"The role of assistive technology in reducing barriers to learning for students with a variety of special needs and challenges cannot be overstated. A number of online resources are available to help parents and educators identify and locate appropriate technological tools and devices for students with special needs."The Changing Dynamic Between the Teacher and the Taught

They offer fantastic learning opportunities for young people as they communicate and play on devices. However, alongside these benefits, there are many risks that autistic children may be more vulnerable to on such internet-enabled devices.  The onus lies with parents to develop online safety strategies at home to help their kids safeguard themselves against online risks and navigate the internet safely. Parents should closely monitor their young adult’s internet use and constantly make sure that his or her internet activity is safe and appropriate.

Useful websites like WeAreAutism.org provide a platform for parents and individuals to share information via discussion forums. They also provide articles and how-to guides to teach individuals safe and fun ways to use the internet responsibly.

Here are some recommendations from a guide published by Cerebra on internet safety:

  • Continuously talk to your child about online safety

  • Install Internet filters and child-friendly browsers

  • Establish ground rules with your child about how they can use the internet, when and for how long

  • Talk to your child about what it is and isn’t ok to tell people about themselves online.

  • Look through the Internet browser history regularly

That the internet is a double-edged sword must be kept in mind while leveraging its apparent benefits. Children, and particularly those with cognitive and learning disabilities, are most vulnerable to the influences that fly free on this medium of popular exchange and existence. So parents, and also educators, must take an active part in ensuring responsible internet use and establish a sense of digital citizenship at home and at school.

 

Writing credit: Authored by Anitha, a mother of two teens with interests in EdTech and a strong advocate for Digital Citizenship.
 
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