Autism and happiness :)

For those of you new to our blog, let me re-introduce myself. My name is Beth Finke, and I am the Interactive Community Coordinator at Easter Seals. Simply put, I moderate this blog.

I also happen to be blind.

A computer program called JAWS reads the text on my screen out loud to me. That’s how I’m able to read your comments to the Easter Seals autism blog. People I meet are fascinated with my talking computer -– I suppose anyone can close their eyes and imagine what it is like to be blind, so they take a special interest.

Imagining what it is like to have autism –- and how computers can help people with autism — is not as easy. So I appreciated this blog post explaining how communicating online can help people with autism develop skills they need for everyday interaction.

You see, for people with Autism, it is difficult (if not impossible) to read our society’s unwritten social rules. How do I know when someone is angry? When they are happy? When they are frightened? Most of us, from time to time, and in a given social setting, intentionally or unintentionally, give off mixed signals to the world around us. And most of us, from an early age, learn to decode and understand these signals. People with Autism misinterpret or lack understanding of these signals … The online environment simplifies those emotional states (a smiling face for “happy,” a frown for “unhappy,” etc). For people with Autism, it is a safe way to develop skills they need for everyday interaction without leaving the security of their own computer.

You know, until someone told me what emoticons were, I could not figure out why the heck my talking computer kept shouting out the words “colon right paren” after every funny line in an email message. I’m glad I found this blog post — I mean, who knew those silly smiley faces could be so helpful?


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