Absent-mindedness or ‘brain fog’ can be an issue with the sensory overload that usually accompanies autism. The Find One Find All (FOFA) system is a practical solution for keeping track of everyday items like keys and wallets. The best feature of FOFA is that no base station or remote is required (so no need to recall where you left the remote!). Instead, every token is a remote that can be used to find the others. The set comes with one flat token for wallets and one fob token for keys, etc.
I bought this for my son who has a brain injury and loses his wallet. He loves how easy it is to program and use. He has one in his wallet and one on his key chain. I recommend it for anyone who consistently loses things.
Auti is a furry interactive robot toy that’s currently under development. It has sensors that detect sound and touch, and responds positively to gentle handling and soft voices. But it shuts down when hit or shouted at. The idea is to train autistic children in good social behaviour at a young age, so they can interact more successfully with non-autistic kids.
Lack of dexterity and an aversion to complex procedures can make using a cell phone a pain for many autistics. The Just5 pretty much just makes calls and texts (though surprisingly it has a torch and radio), with a large keypad for ease of use, and amplified sound to drown out background noise that autistics are sensitive to. The talking keypad calls out the digits as they’re dialled, minimising error. A physical switch on the side locks the keypad to prevent accidental dialing. An added bonus is an ’emergency button’ at the back that when depressed for four seconds, auto-dials any number programmed into it (such as the cell phone of an autistic child’s parent). This how the button works (from the company’s website):
For emergency situations, users can preset up to five phone numbers for 911, family, friends, doctors, etc. When users press the emergency SOS button, the phone will text an urgent message (e.g. “I’m having an emergency, please answer”) to these five numbers, then dial them in prioritized order. When dialing, the phone will sound a loud siren to attract the attention of others. Once someone answers a call, the phone automatically switches to loud speaker mode for easier communications. This feature is vital if a user drops the phone after pressing the SOS button.
This award-winning guide is written from an autistic person’s perspective, in language that appeals to other young people. It’s a short (only 48 pages) but succinct manual for anyone trying to relate to an autistic young person. Ideally, there should be a copy in every school library and a class taught from it in every school.
Best of the Best 2012—Chicago Public Library
Books for a Better Life Awards finalist
Clearly explain[s] the difficulties with communication and social interactions that frequently accompany autism, while urging readers to reach out to and stick up for autistic children—Publishers Weekly
Keeping organized is a struggle for many autistics, either because of cognitive weaknesses in planning and organizing or the opposite, an obsession with tidiness. Either way, autistics may find the Wonderfile personal workstation useful for storing and organising documents they work on regularly. When using the corner pocket, it may help to keep documents in folders so they don’t fall out when the bag is shut. Here’s a review by a user with ADD:
I am very pleased with WonderFile. I have ADD. This product is the first to really help me. It is uncomplicated, folds easily and has room for my tablet if I want to carry it. It’s light weight but fabric is tough and the handle is sturdy. Great value for the cost. I use it for things that are pending which used to be scattered or lost. Now my husband puts the mail in the fold and I organize bills as I open mail. I also use it for receipts. I keep travel planning and relevant tickets, maps and coupons. The best slot is my troubleshooting. It helps me prioritize actions we need to take. I get emails for the most part and put them in order giving me a timeline. I used to feel overwhelmed wondering what might be falling through the cracks and anxious when finding unopened mail. No more wondering with WonderFile. I’ll buy another if they give us new colors. I think you would be pleased with this product.
Some autistics have difficulty using a standard computer keyboard, if they have problems with muscle coordination (particular where a series of quick and subtle actions are required, as in typing). Qwerty keyboards are not laid out in alphabetical order, which can frustrate autistics who like consistency. The Orbitouch keyboard is operated by simple movements of the arms, which some autistics (and users with carpal tunnel syndrome) find a less stressful way to type.
Arch Daily has a special feature for Autism Awareness Month (April), with a collection of articles on lighting, spatial considerations and the cognitive aspects of architecture for autistic users.
Falling Water by Frank Lloyd Wright – courtesy Wikimedia
A nice little article by Jurriaan Persyn on designing websites for autistics. I would definitely agree about the use of pictograms. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and that’s especially true if you have my kind of autism. Many autistics think in pictures rather than words. I personally prefer to watch a video presentation than read the same content, because the video gives me visual cues. However, too many clashing colors is not a good idea, and the same for flickering graphics or pop-ups (autistics are generally distracted by strong repetitive contrasts like stripes or blinking lights, Then again, aren’t we all?). I especially hate music that starts when you open a page, sudden audio-visual stimuli are generally not autistic-friendly. We tend to hate surprises, so consistency and predictability are important, as Jurriaan mentions.