What’s the Best Computer for an Autistic Child?

Geek Culture Health

We have a mission, GeekDad readers!  Like we often are called upon to do in our daily lives, we are being asked to suggest a tech solution for someone.  But in this case, the request is a little more challenging.  I was very honored the other day to receive the following email from a reader:

First of all, I’m a GeekMom. A web designing mom and preschool teacher with 3 GeekKids (and an equally geeky husband). My kids get amped when we talk electronics, especially my almost 8 year old son. You see, my son has Autism.  He is most at home when it comes to computers and his school has even started integrating computers into his everyday curriculum.  He has a lot of sensory issues that make writing assignments nearly impossible for him. When it comes to retaining information it works best if he can type it, and same for reading.
I’ve been looking at assistive communication devices for children with
Autsim, but none quite fit what we need.  The school has one that would allow him to type his work and print on the teachers computer, but only displays one line at a time.

Recently I came across a device called the Amazon Kindle. Its very intriguing. Large screen, easy navigation, download thousands of books, and can upload and down load files. BUT it has a very large price tag, so I’m researching it thoroughly before we try to come up with creative fund raising plans in order to purchase one.  Has
GeekDad done any reviews on this? If so, how do you think it would fair for a younger child? I’m interested in the documents ability, I’d like to find out if new documents can be created and saved.  And most importantly, the ability to turn off and secure the wireless feature so children can not access the internet or buy a gazillion books from

I would love to read any articles you have previously posted on this topic or perhaps a future one?  I think, if it works the way I’m picturing it, it could be a great tool for other Autistic kids like my son.

This is exactly the kind of challenge a GeekDad aspires to!

My thoughts lean towards saying the Kindle isn’t quite the right device for her.  Despite being well-liked by many, it seems like it might be more challenging, and less-functional than would be helpful for our questioner’s child.  If his best way to get ideas down is going to be typing, he’s going to need a better keyboard, and it would probably be helpful to be able to run some real software.

EeepcEeepc So, my initial response is to point her at one of the models of Asus Eee PCs, many of which are less expensive that the Kindle, and yet are fully-functional sub-laptops.  With a little customization of parental controls and adding the right software, a computer like this could be perfect for a kid with, or without the challenge of austism.

By that’s my take.  We have a wide and experienced readership here at GeekDad.  What do you all think?  Are there any other devices, be they small laptops, hand-helds, or other machines, that could work well for our subject?  Please add your suggestions to the comments!

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