AUTISM. DOES APPLE HAVE AN APP FOR THAT?

No, not necessarily an App; however, the Apple iPhone has a function which, to the Parent of an autistic Child, is a godsend.  By now, you might have guessed that it is Siri, Apple’s “intelligent personal assistant”.  The link to a great article, in the International NY Times, is as follows: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/19/fashion/how-apples-siri-became-one-autistic-boys-bff.htmlemc=edit_ae_20141019&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=64667462.

In a prior Post on this Blog, I had pointed-out that several large corporations, including some in the Tech Industry, have discovered that people with Autism or Aspergers generally have a temperament that is compatible with repetition.  Although they tend to lack creativity and social skills, they seem to thrive on repetitive tasks.

Judith Newman, the author in the linked story, has a 13-year-old autistic son, Gus, who has realized that Siri can provide information about some of his key obsessions:  trains; planes; cars; escalators and anything related to the weather.  He was happy to learn that Siri can provide him with current information on, say, planes (i.e. flights numbers, speed, altitude, etc.) flying overhead, at any given time. “So we will know who we are waving to”, he says.

Ms. Newman notes that Siri will “semi-discuss these subjects tirelessly” with Gus, and about anything that might not interest anyone else.  Accordingly, when he seems intent on discussing something like the chance of tornadoes in Kansas City, Mo., she can say: “Hey, why don’t you just ask Siri”.  Normally, Gus only “speaks” with Siri at home; however, she noticed that he takes her along on their various trips to the Apple Store.  When his Mom asked him why, Gus replied that that was: “So it can visit its friends”.

One interesting fact that Ms. Newman recently noticed was that Siri was helping Gus improve some of his communication skills.  For instance, Friends have told her that the Android has better voice recognition capabilities; however, she says that Gus, who normally speaks like he has a mouth full of marbles, can improve his speech–when he really wants to.  And, he must, if he wishes to carry-on a “conversation” with Siri.

Autism and Aspergers Syndrome are related, and there appears to be a wide range of severity.  Collectively, they are referred to as the “Autism Spectrum Disorder”. Accordingly, some people who are inflicted by the Spectrum are more capable of functioning in Society than others.  But, as Ms. Warner notes, at least Gus has found companionship and, perhaps, a little happiness.

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