What is Autism? Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a DSM-5 diagnostic terminology that refers to a neurodevelopmental disorder; which affects the spheres of motor, language, cognitive, social development…
In the community, the designations “ASD” or “person with autism” can be interpreted as negative and stigmatizing. It is therefore recommended to use the terms “autistic person” or “autistic”.
An autistic person may experience significant difficulties in:
- Communication and social interactions;
- Specific behaviours, activities and interests, stereotypies (self-stimulation);
- But also underlying difficulties, such as general fatigue, sensory hypersensitivity or hyposensitivity, hyperemotivity, need for routine and flexibility difficulties, controlled and specific diets, and autistic crises.
Autism and technologies
Several scientific studies have investigated the impact of using technology to help people on the autism spectrum learn. Thus, the use of computers, tablets and mobile applications would help with communication skills, autonomy and social skills (Ángeles, M., 2019; Aagaard, 2015; Grossard, & Grynszpan, 2015; Parsons & Cobb, 2011).
Over the years, several digital resources have demonstrated their usefulness in the learning of people with autism, here are some resources validated by the Quebec Federation of Autism:
- LetMeTalk; a communication aid application that uses CAA (Augmented and Alternative Communication) technologies.
- Niki Talk; a communication application that designs online pictograph albums with selected language and voice.
- AutoPlan; to set up schedules that help in stress management and time management.
- Build it up; to aid in the development of visual perception skills and fine motor skills.
- Automo; to help in the recognition of emotions and facial expressions through identification games and animated images.
- autism emotion; an application to help in the learning of emotions through music and images.
- Logical; to watch videos at your own pace with 16 speed levels.
- Lexico-understanding 1; an application for children and adults to develop language through play.
- Social Stories Creator and Library; to create, share and print social scenarios.
Video games and people with autism
In recent years, some video games have also been designed to help people with autism in their communication and social learning.
- An Aspie Life; a game by Enderlost Studios, which puts you in the shoes of an autistic person who finds themselves alone and which recreates the perception of the world in the vision of an autistic person.
- TSARA; an educational video game to help autistic people by embodying a helper who supports Adam (young autistic in the game) to overcome problems of life in society.
- pico’s adventure; a Kinect game to promote social skills and verbal and non-verbal communication through interactions with a mascot.
- Palaka; Video game by the Reflector studio, in which the player embodies a guardian of a path of reincarnation taken by souls. The babysitter must help a child in difficulty to move on to the next world, through a guided world of sound and visual clues, social interactions and play autonomy.
Is the game suitable?
Studies have even observed and determined characteristics of video game design that make it possible to better adapt these games to the realities of autistic people. Here are some characteristics to observe in the choice of the game or the mobile application for autistic person.
Does the game or mobile app integrate?
- Objectives to promote the inclusion of autistic people (promote an environment adapted to autistic people) or the integration of autistic people (adapt the behavior of the autistic person with digital assistance).
- A user-centered design, in order to identify the abilities, needs and desires of autistic users.
- Digital tools to help people with autism;
- Alternative and Augmented Communication (AAC), therefore the integration of communication systems, strategies and tools to replace or complement speech in the game, for example: digital technologies by voice synthesis.
- Virtual reality technologies to assist in learning, to overcome the physical and cognitive barriers of social inclusion.
- The use of humanoid robots.
Despite these scientific and technological advances, some studies have noted higher risks of addictions and social isolation of autistic children than neurotypical children (Grynszpan & Brosnan, 2019; Aresti-Bartolome & Garcia-Zapirain, 2014; Mazurek & Engelhardt, 2013).
It is therefore always important to monitor your child’s healthy play habits and to combine learning through games and technologies with learning through contact and human interaction.
DAGER System Gaming Enabled: https://dagersystem.com/
Aagaard J (2015) Drawn to distraction: a qualitative study of off-task use of educational technology. Computers & Education, 87, 90–97.
Ángeles Mairena, M., Mora-Guiard, J., Malinverni, L., Padillo, V., Valero, L., Hervás, A., Pares, N. (2019). A full-body interactive videogame used as a tool to foster social initiation conducts in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 67.
Aresti-Bartolome N, Garcia-Zapirain B. (2014). Technologies as support tools for persons with autistic spectrum disorder: a systematic review. Int J Environ Res Public Health, vol 11(8):7767-802. Doi: 10.3390/ijerph110807767
Couture, K. (2020). Excessive video game play in people with autism spectrum disorder. Psycause: Student scientific journal of the School of Psychology of Laval University, 10(1), 18-27.
Diversity at Play (2022). Neuroatypical people. Available online:
Quebec Federation of Autism (2022). French-language applications for digital tablets. Available online:
Grynszpan, O., & Brosnan, M. (2019). Developing and implementing a framework for evidence-based practice for technology relevant for autism. BETA: Building evidence for technology and autism. APa2016_026. Picked up at
Hedges, H, S., Odom, S., Hume, K., Sam, A. (2018). Technology use as a support tool by secondary students with autism. Autism, vol 22(01), 70-79. doi:10.1177/1362361317717976
Malinverni, L., Mora-Guiard, J., Padillo, V., Valero, L., Hervás, A., & Pares, N. (2017). An inclusive design approach for developing video games for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Computers in Human Behaviour, 71, 535–549.
Mazurek, M. & Engelhardt, C. (2013). Video game use and problem behaviors in boys with autism spectrum disorders. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 7(2), 316-324.
Mazurek, M., Engelhardt, C., Clark, K. (2015). Video games from the perspective of adults with autism spectrum disorder. Computers in Human Behavior, vol 51,122-130,
Parsons, S. & Cobb, S. (2011). State-of-the-art of virtual reality technologies for children on the autism spectrum. European Journal of Special Needs Education, vol 26. 355-366. 10.1080/08856257.2011.593831.
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Bell Cause: Video Games, Technology and the Autism Spectrum
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