People with autism often express that they feel misunderstood. Both academically and socially, typing can open up possibilities for communication. Typing is a form of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). This means it can be used as a form of non-verbal communication for people who are either unable or find it difficult to communicate verbally. For people who are non-verbal or partially verbal, having a means to communicate is a life-changing skill alleviating frustration and isolation.Typing is a very popular form of alternative communication as it allows for a wider demographic to communicate in a form other than sign language.
One group of people who may benefit from typing as an AAC is those with autism.
Academically there have been many examples of members of the autistic community being shown to have writing talent once given the means to express themselves more efficiently. In some cases, autistic people have demonstrated writing talent when given the effective means to communicate their ideas. Emma Zurcher Long, a poet who started writing as a young teenager has been praised for her literary voice.
Compounding the benefits to education are the improvements that can be made to social interactions. Social circles are hugely important, especially for adolescents. Carly Fleischmann, a young woman who was once dismissed as “mentally deficient”, surprised her therapists when, after years of only communicating via picture cards, ran to a computer and typed “H-U-R-T” and “H-E-L-P” before vomiting. A few months after this event Carly typed –
“I am autistic but that is not who I am. Take time to know me, before you judge me. I am cute, funny and like to have fun.”
Some young students or those with dyspraxia may find typing initially difficult. Specific touch typing training tailored to all ability levels, such as Typing Tournament, can help students develop an effective communicate.