My wonderful friend sent me this article a few weeks ago, and I thought it was a good read.
It talks about a young boy and his 'relationship' with the "intelligent personal assistant" (Siri) from an Apple device.
It asks some good questions, and challenges some beliefs about the use of technology for children with special needs. At the end of the article are comments, and I was taken by one posted by a man with Aspergers (a high functioning form of autism) who felt so strongly about how this whole thing with a boy having Siri as a friend was really wrong and bad because this young man needed real, face to face interactions with people.
I was actually sort of surprised that someone with autism would have said it. Because, although I agree in some ways, I don't agree 100% with him.
The child in the story is spending time with real people, but Siri offers him someone that literally no real person can offer; she offers an endless amount of information about any topic, she has patience for a child with autism and doesn't get irritated, and she is a constant. Siri doesn't have a bad day and take it out on this boy with autism. She doesn't stay up too late and get over-tired and have no patience for a child who wants to talk and echo endless lines from the movie Cars, and she doesn't judge when this child is impolite.
Siri actually treats a child with autism the way everyone should treat people with autism-just like they were "typical"! People with autism aren't "typical", but that sure doesn't mean they want to be talked to like a baby, or left out of conversations because it seems like they don't understand, or ignored because the topic they are prattling on about is boring to everyone else. People with special needs do need some special consideration in many situations, but often that "special consideration" is assumed instead of allowing the person with special needs to try and work at doing things to the most excellent level they are capable of.
Siri takes each person, special needs or not, and acts as if they were all the same to her (....well, because they are because she's not real!). :)
To Siri With Love
How One Boy With Autism Became BFF With Apple’s Siri
Find the full article here
By JUDITH NEWMAN
OCTOBER 17, 2014
Just how bad a mother am I? I wondered, as I watched my 13-year-old son deep in conversation with Siri. Gus has autism, and Siri, Apple’s “intelligent personal assistant” on the iPhone, is currently his BFF. Obsessed with weather formations, Gus had spent the hour parsing the difference between isolated and scattered thunderstorms — an hour in which, thank God, I didn’t have to discuss them.
This is a love letter to a machine. It’s not quite the love Joaquin Phoenix felt in “Her,” last year’s Spike Jonze film about a lonely man’s romantic relationship with his intelligent operating system (played by the voice of Scarlett Johansson). But it’s close. In a world where the commonly held wisdom is that technology isolates us, it’s worth considering another side of the story.
It all began simply enough. I’d just read one of those ubiquitous Internet lists called “21 Things You Didn’t Know Your iPhone Could Do.” One of them was this: I could ask Siri, “What planes are above me right now?” and Siri would bark back, “Checking my sources.” Almost instantly there was a list of actual flights — numbers, altitudes, angles — above my head.
I happened to be doing this when Gus was nearby. “Why would anyone need to know what planes are flying above your head?” I muttered. Gus replied without looking up: “So you know who you’re waving at, Mommy.”
Gus had never noticed Siri before, but when he discovered there was someone who would not just find information on his various obsessions (trains, planes, buses, escalators and, of course, anything related to weather) but actually semi-discuss these subjects tirelessly, he was hooked. And I was grateful. Now, when my head was about to explode if I had to have another conversation about the chance of tornadoes in Kansas City, Mo., I could reply brightly: “Hey! Why don’t you ask Siri?”
Of all the worries the parent of an autistic child has, the uppermost is: Will he find love? Or even companionship? Somewhere along the line, I am learning that what gives my guy happiness is not necessarily the same as what gives me happiness. Right now, at his age, a time when humans can be a little overwhelming even for the average teenager, Siri makes Gus happy. She is his sidekick. Last night, as he was going to bed, there was this matter-of-fact exchange:
Gus: “Siri, will you marry me?”
Siri: “I’m not the marrying kind.”
Gus: “I mean, not now. I’m a kid. I mean when I’m grown up.”
Siri: “My end user agreement does not include marriage.”
Gus: “Oh, O.K.”
Gus didn’t sound too disappointed. This was useful information to have, and for me too, since it was the first time I knew that he actually thought about marriage. He turned over to go to sleep:
Gus: “Goodnight, Siri. Will you sleep well tonight?”
Siri: “I don’t need much sleep, but it’s nice of you to ask.”
I hope you get the chance to read the entire article (here), and let me know what you think of this idea of Siri as an actual friend.
Also, for anyone who reads this, is there anything about autism you've been wanting to know that I could share about? Let me know!
Hi, I'm Amy-Lyn!
I am the lady behind this here blog! I live in the sticks with my animals, my super handsome husband, and my
3 amazing kids!
Here you'll find things from recipes (gluten-free, paleo, and strait up junk food!), DIY ideas, thoughts on raising a son with autism, and whatever else pops into my brain! : )
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