Written by Rebecca Sharrock

Modern technology is great, yet there won’t be a gadget around for quite some time that is as versatile as an iPad (or their Android counterparts). These new computers are an absolute godsend for people with autism, and there are of course many reasons as to why this is the case.

Firstly autistic people generally prefer alone time more than socialising in a conventional way. It is of course necessary for us to practice our communication skills, as social skills and manners are a very important part of society. So moderation is needed when it comes to screen time. But while we’re on our devices we’re given an opportunity to practice  those skills.

If we’re old enough (and use it with caution) social media is a great tool. Talking with people by typing on our trusted device is so much easier for us than being face to face. This is because we’re given more time to process information. We also feel less pressured or put on the spot when we’re not required to make eye contact with someone. Once we gain practice by communicating via a computer it becomes much easier for us to communicate with our peers verbally.

Also, there is much for us to learn from apps we can download (and the vast majority of what we need is free of charge). Possibilities seem endless whenever we search for a new game or program in the App Store. This is why it’s best for us to get as large a hard drive as we possibly can. I myself always purchase my iPads by a two year contact at the phone store, where I’m given the iPad in advance and have two years to pay it off. This way I can always get the best iPad available.

Games like Minecraft are a popular choice of app due to the fact that people with autism tend to enjoy constructing things by taking the small details into account. We can of course build things tangibly with toys like Lego, which most of us (including myself) enjoy to do. Yet it is usually handy for us to have constructed play sets stored digitally, just to save house space (as we usually like to build a lot of different play sets). There are also many free apps where we can do jigsaw puzzles, anywhere from about four pieces to a thousand pieces. Jigsaw puzzles are another common interest amongst us.

These smart devices don’t just work as traditional computers either. They can also be used in a variety of other ways such as a map, magazine, book, camera, television, movie and music player, notepad and more. It is true that smartphones can be used in a similar way. Yet the  smaller size of the screens are always a limitation.

Ever since I got my first iPad four years ago, I’ve never been able to go anyway without one. All of the things I have been using it for have helped me enormously. Firstly I never get bored now. Yet perhaps most importantly I’ve built up social skills, confidence and much of the basic skills that I missed during my school years. It’s amazing what such a device can do.


Written by Rebecca Sharrock

It’s widely known that any kind of change (whether it be at school, work, in the home environment, or anywhere else) is absolute agony for anyone who lives on the autism spectrum. This isn’t a mere speculation either. It’s the plain and simple truth. The ways in which each and every one of us expresses these discomforts depends on our general personality, and also the severity of our autism. Yet the reasons for us not favouring change are the same amongst us all.

The primary reason for our dislike of change comes from the fact that we have a slower than average processing speed. So it’s much easier for us to live by routine, and do the same things over and over. Whenever something unexpectedly comes up we have to think of a solution on the spot from the top of our head. We’re required to do this faster than our minds naturally process. So doing this too often drains us, and therefore creates anxiety (that’s already a sensitive area for us).

Being mentally drained also prevents us from fully attending to our other daily requirements which we had set in our mind to do. This changes even more things and instead of having to process quickly for one thing, we then have to process for about twenty other things at the same time. Autistic people are not good multi-taskers (naturally at the very least). So this domino effect can potentially turn into a large meltdown.

Also, those of us with autism get a strong sense of comfort with familiar situations and environments, along with stability. We tend to believe that anything that worked well for us in the past is a nice solid rock for us to lean upon throughout our lifetime. These creature comforts of ours often include our caregivers too, which can surprise many people who believe that those of us with autism form no emotional connections to anybody.

When I was six years old (a couple of decades ago) a psychologist stated that I couldn’t be autistic because I had such a strong connection with my mother. This was even despite me having all of the other autistic traits. Yet it’s not surprising that we will connect with a caregiver, as we grow to rely on that person for comfort and support.

The changes that come along with maturing and moving into adulthood are often hard for people with autism. As we move our way through our childhood we’ll absorb so much about the independence (and therefore loss of our nurtured structure) that will be required  of us once we’re grown. This is the reason why many people with autism regress, at least a little, whenever they’re under any kind of stress. Returning to our younger years gives us a feeling of security.

So when caring for autistic children and adults it’s best to ask us about the structure and familiarities we need whenever it comes to making a necessary life change. Then we together can work out ways that suit both us as the autistic person, along with the needs of society and the people who we live with. If a change is absolutely necessary it’s also crucially important to introduce it into our lives in broken down stages.

Autism Can’t be Outgrown

Written by Rebecca Sharrock

Many a time (especially a decade or so ago) people get somewhat puzzled about me having autism, even though I’m not a child. The media often publicises autism as being a childhood condition that many of today’s generation of kids are getting diagnosed with.

Yet in truth autism has been around as long as humanity has existed, and it is a condition that we are born with, and will have for the rest of our lifetime. Nothing whatsoever can change the way our brains and bodies are wired. If that were possible science would be able to effectively change our code of DNA completely. Having had autism for 27 years, there are a fair few things that I want to add here.

As mentioned above autism is a lifelong condition. Yet even so, if (and only if) we are willing and were born high functioning enough to attempt to cope better in mainstream society, it is possible for us to (outwardly) change the severity of our autism.

However, there are some very important points that must now be stressed. Purposely learning facial expressions, body language, human emotions and improved speech are possible. Though we’ve got to be willing to do this as it involves a fair bit of work. From there we can appear to become higher functioning, which makes us more confident and competent than before. But no matter how well any of us achieve those skills, they will always be habitual and never instinctive.

Yet this isn’t to say that this always matters necessarily. Learned habits can of course become so ingrained that there can eventually be a fine line between them and our natural instincts. In my own case when I look back to how I was as a teenager (the time when I got my ASD diagnosis), I’m able to see how vastly different I was then compared to now.

Back then I had a great deal of anxiety from the pressure of school. This made it virtually impossible for me to ground my mind enough for me to be able to focus my attention on coping exercises. Though once I left school my anxiety lessened a little due to me having more freedom to be myself.

So for the past decade I’ve been learning all I can about social skills (from books, online and on television) and have been doing some catchup work on what I missed during my school years. This was no easy task and has taken a fair bit of time. Yet now I am much happier and appear to be much higher functioning than before. Some people now are even surprised to hear that I have autism.

Bringing this back to what I was saying at the start, my actual autism has not diminished or lessened over the years. It is true that I’m coping with life much better than before outwardly. Yet I am able to see within myself that I still have processing delays, anxiety, difficulties with socialising and very specific obsessions. Inwardly my autism seems to have become more apparent as I’m now noticing every small thing to improve.