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Wearable tech could change the lives of people with autism – if they were involved in its design

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Many people with autism have trouble expressing their emotions. This can lead to increased anxiety, depression, anger, and physical health problems. Studies have shown that adults with autism are significantly more likely to experience depression and anxiety than adults of the same age.

Imagine a future where technology helps regulate people’s emotions and warn them of sensory overload before it overwhelms them.

A growing number of technological solutions aimed at helping people regulate their emotions are being developed for people with autism. Some are also trying to adapt technology such as digital heart rate monitors to track stress levels.

Many studies have explored how people with autism use wearable technologies such as smart watches, virtual reality (VR), and brain computer interfaces (BCI) to regulate their emotions. A BCI is a direct communication pathway between the brain’s electrical activity and an external device, typically a computer or robotic limb.

talk to the community

However, prior to our study, no one had asked for their opinion on how the technology could help the autism community. Not because it’s a long-standing problem for autistic users of this technology. Wearables for people with autism According to a recent survey, only 10% of his technology addresses their needs, and 90% see autistic traits as shortcomings that need fixing. I was.

Our recent study explores how the autistic community thinks about the technologies they have previously used to control their emotions and what they need from the technology. I investigated whether

Thirty-four people with autism and their advocates (family members, health and social care professionals, and university staff) participated in focus groups. Presented information on how to use emotion control techniques. For example, his smart watch that detects physiological stress signals and prompts the user to initiate coping strategies.

The autism community has found that they are enthusiastic about using technology to control their emotions, but it is often too costly, difficult to use without training, and they Our focus group results suggest that wearable technology may be particularly beneficial for people with autism if they are involved in the design process. indicates that there is

living with autism

One participant shared how her daughter deals with emotional issues. Except she doesn’t have her. She hides it so well, anxiety and all that – we don’t have a clue!

On the other hand, care staff said how important it is to understand how people with autism feel: before escalating. It was possible to enter the front to provide a sense of security and distraction. For others it is withdrawn. Give them their own space. ”

Technology can make a big difference in the lives of people with autism.

Another caregiver said, “I know there might be a pattern, but I can’t see it.”

Participants said technology could make all the difference. A relative of a person with autism said: It’s an app that somehow ties in with color and allows you to choose photos that describe your feelings and people know without having to do a big song or dance. ”

Some autistic participants felt they lacked support for those with higher IQs. As one person said: you are not so serious. So you’re not at that point on the spectrum where you need a lot of the support that you would get if you did. ”

help me don’t fix it

Most research is based on outdated theories about autism, such as the idea that autism is a medical condition that can be cured or treated. Recent breakthroughs in the neurodiversity movement have focused autism research on empowering people with autism and their unique communication styles, rather than trying to “fix” them. It gave me a reason to call.

Autistic participants agreed that technical design should promote independence rather than trying to mask autism.

Many participants were reluctant to use technology due to their lack of confidence in their ability to use it, especially in community care settings. Other barriers included cost and lack of awareness of existing technology.

Our research findings emphasized the importance of strategies that consider individual life goals. A lot of money is spent developing new technologies, but researchers and medical institutions often don’t consider how they will actually be implemented.

One autistic person said: Besides just spewing something out, here’s what I made. The amount of papers that claim people have made something for learning disabilities. Have you tested it? Have you ever used it with someone else?

Technology companies should develop products with the autism community. Products should also aim to adapt the environment to suit individual needs, rather than trying to change people.

Autism simply sees the world differently. This new approach will not only help develop a useful technology-based support strategy, but it will also help create a more inclusive environment for everyone.