As an autistic I get overwhelmed by the world more easily than someone without autism. An average day at work will make me overwhelmed. I come home and I’m exhausted as my brain has had to do socialising gymnastics going from interaction to interaction, lesson to lesson. I come home and I’m barely able to move. But the thing I will go to first is my iPad. My iPad represents a routine and a consistency that I don’t get from navigating the outside world. Don’t get me wrong I have routine in the outside world but there are so many variables that for example my journey home will never be the same because different cars will go by giving my brain different visions to interpret, different sounds of people talking in different ways to the day before. Whereas with my iPad it is programmed to work a certain way. It has a certain amount of limitations on its app so that essentially you can create the exact same experience each day. I have a routine of which apps I use first. The comfort my iPad brings me is essential to my functioning. I use it everyday. Using my iPad I would argue is almost like stimming. I may not be rocking or tapping my foot but I am using my fingers against the screen and my brain is being stimulated by the movement on screen and the feeling of the screen and the thinking that goes into knowing what to do with it. I acknowledge that it is not exactly like stimming but to me it feels a bit like it.
There are many arguments about the use of technology and varying articles about the use of technology with autistic children some promoting it like the google glasses article talking about teaching autistic children to read facial expressions to the ones that say that it stops autistic children from socialising and they are so vulnerable to not socialising that it is damaging for them. Now I understand where both sides are coming from and really it is down to the individual and moderation. For me I use my iPad everyday from the moment I get home, which means I could be using it in total for about 5 hours, give or take the moments when I’m eating or stuff like that. Some would argue that this is excessive amount and that surely this much use of my iPad is not good for me. However, I have spent 7 hours of my day with my brain working in overdrive just to survive my day at work, constantly doing things that come unnaturally to it that most people take for granted. So then would you still argue that my use of my iPad is excessive considering how much input I’ve had to take in from the outside world. It needs outputting I just chose to do that with the iPad. I have been socialising all day so for me I feel that I can justify that amount of time. I need that escapism into something that doesn’t require me to read facial expressions, distinguish tones of voices and map conversations. The iPad doesn’t ask me to do any of that.
To those who worry about technology and autism what I would say to you is that if an autistic is socialising with the world everyday for hours on end and they come back and want to escape into a world that does not demand the things that they find so difficult then why is technology so bad for them. If it is embedded into a routine with clear guidelines they have to follow then that’s all that’s needed. The danger is when these guidelines are not in place if it is not part of a routine then because autistics struggle with the concept of estimating time and an autistic will over use it because they don’t realise how long they’ve been on it. I feel that we need to move away from this ideal that technology is dangerous. It is not the technology itself but the people who use it. So if people use it responsibly it is perfectly good.
My iPad is my escape. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Thanks for reading. Hope you liked it. Peace out!