Many teachers have had to prepare students for a change in their learning environment. While schools may slowly be returning to in-person, a large portion of the curriculum may still include online learning. Online learning may be particularly challenging for children with autism, who thrive on consistency, structure, and routine. With more learning instructions being shifted online, AllConnect wanted to provide an internet safety guide to support their educational and daily needs.
The guide includes:
- Helpful Information on the Risks Associated with Internet Use and ASD
- Detailed Infographic with Internet Safety Tips
- Online Security Resources for Families
The internet has increasingly been an essential part of life for many people, but that digital surge hasn’t swept up everyone equally. According to the Pew Research Center, Americans with disabilities are three times more likely than those without a disability to say they never go online.
While the benefits of internet use can be profound for people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), there are also some risks. Studies have shown that those with autism are more susceptible to threats like cyberbullying and internet addiction. That said, being prepared with the right knowledge can help keep your internet experience safe and positive.
Autism spectrum disorder includes a wide range of conditions, but it’s primarily known for challenges with social interaction, speech and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. ASD is the second most common developmental disability in the U.S., with an estimated 1 in 54 children diagnosed each year, according to the CDC. Because it’s a spectrum disorder, the strengths and challenges are different for everyone.
While many people with autism find great benefits to being online, there are risks associated with easy access to the internet, too.
What are the risks?
Researchers have divided the risks of being online for people with ASD into three categories: conduct, content and contact. Conduct risks involve using the internet in a compulsive or unhealthy manner, content risks refer to exposure to inappropriate material and contact risks involve things like cyberbullying and online scams.
Having a strong knowledge of these frameworks can help people with autism maintain a safe and healthy relationship to the internet. It’s also essential for family members and loved ones to be educated on these online threats so they can spot any warning signs.
Bullying can be one of the most troubling concerns for people with autism, whether it’s online or not. According to one survey, 63% of children with an autism spectrum disorder report having been bullied — three times more likely than their siblings. This trend unfortunately exists online, too. Another report found that kids who have a learning disability are 12% more likely to experience cyberbullying than those who do not.
Becoming a victim of a scam or hacking is another risk for people with ASD. To avoid these situations, the most important thing anyone can do is avoid giving out personal information like addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers or bank information.
Phishing is also a serious problem for anyone online. This is when scammers send emails pretending to be legitimate companies to trick you into giving them personal information or opening an attachment that contains malware. According to the FBI, these are the most common cyberattacks in the U.S., with over 241K victims in 2020.