Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a term used to describe a set of early-appearing social communication deficits and repetitive sensory-motor behaviors associated with a prominent genetic component as well as other causes. According to WHO, 0.63% of children are diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ASD occurs in children and continues to expand to adolescents and adults.
Autism is usually categorized by symptoms like social communication impairments, speech or language Impediments, and restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior with certain activities.
Autistic individuals tend to have special interests – they develop an intense focus on specific topics. While non-autistic people’s special interests develop as hobbies, for autistic individuals are closer to obsessions that they feel a need to keep exploring as much as they can.
How does Technology help Individuals with ASD?
The previously mentioned neurodiverse characteristics make it hard for autistic people to live in a society that revolves around neurotypical human beings. Therefore, a need for modern solutions to solve their daily problems has been developed. Many such cloud-based apps already exist, from apps for speech and language therapy to special education apps designed specifically for autistic children.
Some interesting examples of new technological approaches are the use of sensors, virtual reality, virtual agents, augmented reality, and geolocation.
Early detection of autism can greatly affect the quality of life of an autistic individual. With the rise of the application of machine learning-based models in the predictions of various human diseases, doing the same for a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder is not a stretch. In fact, technologies like neural networks have been able to detect markers of ASD on brain scans using the Autism Brain Imaging Data Exchange (ABIDE), an open-access repository of scans from 2,226 autistic and non-autistic people. Usage of unsupervised machine learning to detect behavioral profiles and relationships between them has been researched as well.
ASD in Technology
Autistic spectrum disorder might affect the daily lives of those affected by it, but that does not make them less creative and talented individuals. In fact, they possess a few superior cognitive strengths like:
Distinctive ability to view things analytically and logically
An exceptional eye for details and potential errors
Maintained concentration for repetitive tasks
Strong interests in facts and technical expertise
Genuine awareness of quality
Abilities in computer engineering
Even with such capabilities, only21.7% of autistic people are in employment according to a UK study. To combat this, Google Cloud launched a career program for autistic individuals last year.
“This bias often unintentionally marginalizes great candidates and means businesses miss out on valuable talent who can contribute and enrich the workplace,” Rob Enslin, President of Global Customer Operations at Google Cloud, said. “This program is just one example of Google Cloud’s commitment to inclusion, and it is an important step forward to building a more representative team and creating value for customers and stakeholders.”
As a part of Google Cloud’s Autism Career Program, the company said that it will work with experts from the Stanford Neurodiversity Project — part of the university’s medical school — to train as many as 500 Google Cloud managers and others who are integral in the hiring process to work more effectively with candidates who have autism. It was an example of Google Cloud’s commitment to inclusion.
Such programs help not only technology but also society as a whole to progress further. The inclusion of autistic people in not only tech-based industries but in our daily lives is crucial for the growth of mankind.