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Challenging Stereotypes: Revolutionary Book Defies Link Between Autism and Technology

A New Book Challenges Stereotypes about Autism and Technology

Published on August 3, 2023


In a society that often relies on stereotypes to understand and categorize individuals, it is crucial to challenge these assumptions and embrace diversity. This is especially true when it comes to understanding autism and the role of technology in the lives of autistic children. Meryl Alper, a communication studies professor at Northeastern University, has undertaken the task of shattering stereotypes in her new book, “Kids Across the Spectrums: Growing up Autistic in the Digital Age.” By studying the tech use of over 60 autistic children with various capabilities, ethnicities, and economic backgrounds, Alper presents a refreshing and nuanced perspective on the intersection of autism and technology.

Embracing Individual Differences

One of the key insights from Alper’s research is that autistic children, much like any other group of individuals, are unique individuals with their own distinct personalities, interests, and abilities. Alper introduces us to Clayton, an 8-year-old Black boy who lives in public housing with his mother and two younger brothers, both of whom are also diagnosed with autism. Despite all three boys being on the autism spectrum, their personalities and interests vary greatly. Clayton is talkative and artistic, indulging in activities such as playing Roblox and watching drawing tutorials on YouTube. In contrast, his 7-year-old brother Kahlil, who is minimally verbal, finds solace in listening to music through his mother’s iPhone. This example illustrates that technology serves different purposes for different autistic children, reflecting their individuality and preferences.

A Diverse Spectrum

Alper’s book draws on interviews and observations from nearly 60 families of autistic children with varying abilities, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds. The aim is to present a more expansive and inclusive portrayal of autistic children in the context of technology. This is in stark contrast to past research and popular media representations, where the default autistic person is often a white, privileged, cisgender male with technical aptitude but social challenges. As Alper notes, it is essential to move beyond this narrow perspective and recognize the diversity within the autism spectrum, taking into account factors such as race, gender, and socioeconomic status.

Impact on Treatment and Care

Alper’s book not only challenges stereotypes but also has tangible benefits for treatment and care. Anna Allen, a researcher and speech and language pathologist who works with autistic teenagers, believes that the diverse range of stories in the book can educate clinicians and provide them with a broader understanding of the autistic experience. By showcasing a variety of profiles that consider socioeconomic status, culture, and race, the book equips professionals with valuable insights into how to personalize their approach and support to autistic individuals.

Related Facts

  • Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by difficulties in social interaction, communication, and restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior.
  • Stereotypes surrounding autism often lead to misconceptions and overlook the richness and diversity within the autistic community.
  • Technology can play a significant role in the lives of autistic individuals, providing platforms for learning, communication, and self-expression.
  • Understanding autism requires an intersectional approach that considers factors such as race, gender, and socioeconomic background.

Key Takeaway

Alper’s book challenges stereotypes by presenting a diverse and comprehensive perspective on how autism and technology intersect. By highlighting individual differences, the book promotes a more nuanced understanding of the autistic experience. Furthermore, it provides a valuable resource for clinicians to personalize their treatment and support for autistic individuals.


Meryl Alper’s book, “Kids Across the Spectrums: Growing up Autistic in the Digital Age,” offers a fresh and empathetic portrayal of autistic children, debunking stereotypes and embracing diversity. By focusing on the intersection of autism and technology, Alper highlights the individuality and unique experiences of autistic individuals, defying the narrow narratives often seen in popular media. This book serves as a call to action for society to move beyond stereotypes and embrace the rich diversity within the autism spectrum.

Denk Liu
Denk Liu
Denk Liu is an honest person who always tells it like it is. He's also very objective, seeing the situation for what it is and not getting wrapped up in emotion. He's a regular guy - witty and smart but not pretentious. He loves playing video games and watching action movies in his free time.

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