This section contains information about different forms of assistive and augmentative technology which are used to deliver behavioural and developmental interventions for autistic people.
Although technology is used to deliver these interventions, the intention of these interventions is to change or develop the recipient of the intervention. For example, video modelling is used to show autistic people how to behave under certain circumstances.
Determining the benefits of the interventions in this section is difficult. We must wait for further research of sufficiently high quality to be completed.
No risks are known for any of the interventions we describe here.
An app is a computer application. Most people use the term app to refer to a computer programme (software) that can be downloaded and used on an electronic device, such as a mobile phone or a tablet.
An enormous range of apps is available and they all do different things (for example there are apps that forecast the weather, apps for well-known news providers, and games).
There are a number of apps which have been specifically designed to help autistic people and each one will be designed to achieve different aims. For example, the ReacTickles apps use touch, gesture and audio input to encourage interactive communication. Other apps provide help with life skills and literacy, provide social stories and visual schedules, or are games specifically designed for autistic people.
Please see publications on Computer Applications
Mobile or portable devices include any electronic devices that can be easily carried by one person.
Mobile devices include cell phones (such as i Phones), MP3 players (such as i Players), laptops, personal digital assistants (such as Palms), prompting devices (such as pagers), tablets (such as i Pads), etc. as well as some voice output communication aids (also known as speech generating devices).
Please see publications on Mobile / Portable Devices
A robot is a mechanical device that sometimes resembles a human and is capable of performing a variety of often complex human tasks on command or by being programmed in advance.
Some people believe that robots can be used to help autistic people, for example, by teaching them how to undertake simple tasks.
Please see publications on Robots
Serious games are games designed for a primary purpose other than entertainment.
They involve the use of electronic games technologies and methodologies and are meant to take on real-world problems.
Serious games are sometimes used to help autistic people with real-world problems such as difficulties with social communication and social interaction.
Please see publications on Serious Games
Social stories are a type of prompt or script used to help people understand and behave appropriately in certain situations.
Social stories and other social scripts are based on the idea that some autisic people have difficulty understanding and/or behaving appropriately in certain situations, such as meeting other people for the first time.
Social stories provide descriptions of a particular situation, event or activity, which include specific information about what to expect in that situation and, sometimes, what to do in that situation.
Video modelling is a method of teaching in which an individual learns a behaviour or a skill by watching a video recording of someone (the model) demonstrating that behaviour or skill.
The model can be someone else (such as a parent or sibling) or it can be the individual him/herself (when the process is called video self modelling - VSM).
The supporters of video modelling claim that it has been used to teach a wide variety of social and functional skills, such as how to interact with other people or how to buy things. They also claim that video modelling can be used to teach an individual how to apply previously learnt behaviours and skills in new settings.
Virtual reality is a form of technology which allows a user to interact with a computer-simulated environment.
Most virtual reality environments are visual experiences, displayed either on a computer screen or through special goggles, although some also include sound.
Virtual reality training is a type of simulation training in which the training is delivered via a virtual reality environment.
Please see publications on Virtual Reality
A visual schedule is a set of pictures that communicates a series of activities or the steps of a specific activity. It shows an autistic person what activities will occur, and in what sequence.
A schedule can be created using photographs, pictures,written words, physical objects or any combination of these items. Schedules can be put into notebooks, onto a wall or schedule board or onto a computer.
Most visual schedules are introduced with adult guidance that gradually decreases with time. Eventually, the autistic person may learn to create their own schedules.