How the digital world can be positive for autistic young people

Although there are risks associated with children online and greater for those with additional learning needs, the online world can play an important and positive role for autistic young people.

For children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), online offers them a way to build and maintain social relationships, as well as learn new things and explore their interests.


Children and young people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often find it hard to communicate and interact with people, often get comfort from repetitive behaviours, and some demonstrate a desire to know everything about a particular subject.

The internet can often be a lifeline for children with ASD. The clarity, simplicity and directness of text mean they may be able to connect with others without the need for uncomfortable face to face interaction where facial expressions can be harder to communicate. Online they do not need to be the child labelled with learning difficulties, they can simply be themselves.

And as the world biggest encyclopaedia there is no end of content that children can find about their chosen specialist subject, with YouTube, Wikipedia, and fandom sites providing endless streams of content about the things that they find the most fascinating.

For ASD children there is also something remarkably reliable about the internet that is reassuring and consistent. Content tends to stay online forever, so in many ways, it becomes an environment where repetitive online behaviours can easily exist, be that watching the same YouTube videos over and over or playing the same games over and over.

Whilst there is greater chance children with ASD may come to more harm online than their neuro-typical peers, the counter is that it offers hours of enjoyment that can ease anxieties and underpin their own sense of self and wellbeing.

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