Many autistics are sensitive to glare, either from the sun or indoor fluorescent lights. If you’re short-sighted, you may not want to pay for a pair of prescription sunglasses on top of your regular specs. Thankfully, you don’t have to. Fitover sunglasses are worn over prescription spectacles, so you only need to change one pair of lenses as your eyesight worsens. Two popular brands are Fitovers and Cocoon.
The NAO robot, made by French company Aldebaran Robotics, is a humanoid about the size of a 1-year old that walks, talks and plays games. Kids seem to like interacting with the robot, and researchers are now using it to teach communication and empathy skills to ASD children. More info on the ASK NAO (Autism Solution for Kids) project at the Aldebaran Robotics website. Video from NBC via the Aldebaran Robotics Youtube channel.
Some autistic writers find computers more distracting than useful, with the overwhelming number of options and apps available. Enter the Neo 2, a stripped-down portable word processor that cuts out all the bells and whistles. It allows you to focus on writing, without the formatting choices and programs that might get in the way (the plain text can be downloaded later to a proper computer for formatting). The Neo 2 is designed for portability, with a small sturdy body and long battery life. It’s also highly affordable (price valid at time of writing). Video review below is by Brave Luck Books.
We are a generation that has forgotten to re-use, repair and recycle. Don’t throw away old tools, bikes, etc, just because they’re rusty. Metallic waste ends up in landfills, doesn’t generally bio-degrade, and isn’t good for the environment. Today’s Good Design Award (if we had one) goes to Quick-Glo, the miracle rust remover that your grand-dad swears by. The following video review is courtesy of Jay Leno’s Garage.
Absent-mindedness or ‘brain fog’ comes with many autistic conditions. I’m constantly losing my umbrella, and occasionally forget to bring my wallet with me. The Wallet TrackR is a card-sized electronic tag that works with your iphone, and alerts you when you’re separated from the tag, which can be attached to just about anything (or placed in your wallet). It’s currently on pre-order at Indiegogo.
Because people on the autistic spectrum tend to lack the ability to ‘mirror’ other people’s body language, autistics often have trouble making the right facial expressions on cue. If you have this problem, it may help to check your facial expressions in a mirror, but using a mirror discreetly can be a challenge. I get around the problem by using a mirror watch. It’s basically a mirror on your wrist (the time only shows if you press a button). That way, you can check your ‘look’ while pretending to read the time. If you’re buying one, make sure to check the size, because they tend to be a little larger than the average watch.
I’ve been looking for one of these for some time. Like many autistics, I get distracted easily, and often put off writing while I fiddle endlessly with the formatting, etc. Writer is a stripped-down online word processor that (pretty much) only allows you to type. There’s three fonts and line-spacings to choose from, and you can pick the colours for text and background. That’s about it. You can also choose to make it sound like a manual or electric typewriter, which helps to set the writerly ambience. Text can be exported for formatting elsewhere. Also available as a Google extension.
Many autistic individuals are visual learners, who think and express themselves better in pictures than words (with the notable exception of people with NLD, for whom the opposite is usually true). Google has developed Project Spectrum as a way to give people with autism the opportunity to express their creativity and develop useful (potentially marketable) skills using Google SketchUp 3D modeling software. Drawing can be difficult for some autistics, who may find SketchUp a viable alternative to realise their potential as artists and designers. Learn more at http://sketchup.google.com/spectrum/