Autism Awareness – Communication & Computers


Autism impacts the normal development of the brain in the areas of social interaction, communication skills, and cognitive function. Individuals with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities.

For more facts about autism, and details of all blogs participating in the Autism Awareness Project, see RJ Scott’s master post here:

Communication and Computers


It’s fashionable these days to complain about technology eroding social interaction, and to print pictures of young people staring at screens when they “should” be talking to one another. But in fact technology can be of real benefit to the social lives of autistic people.

For many people with autism, communication can be a challenge. They may be non-verbal, or simply find social interaction difficult and exhausting. Computers can help. They are logical and non-judgemental, and emailing offers a way of conversing with much easier “rules” than speaking face to face.

Computers can also be used to role-play social situations in a safe space, and games programs can help build relationships and encourage co-operation.

Individual computers can be set up to help with individual needs, such as focussing in on a particular area of a website so as to avoid being overwhelmed or distracted by information, and there are resources to help you do that:

But website designers can also help. Autistic people often have sensory issues, so making sure your website is clear, uncluttered and consistent with regard to navigation will help avoid confusion and overload.

Moving elements can be distracting, so it’s best to avoid them or at the very least, make sure the user can freeze them. This won’t just be of benefit to autistic people: I’ve never been diagnosed as autistic but I recently gave up on trying to read the content on a website that had an ad showing people running through the background. I found it incredibly frustrating trying to concentrate on the content—and ultimately, decided it wasn’t worth the bother.

A very little forethought can have very real benefits for consumers, whether they’re neurodiverse or neurotypical.

For further information:

LockNut_500x750[4]Giveaway: I’m offering a free e-copy of my upcoming Plumber’s Mate Mystery #5, Lock Nut, to a randomly chosen commenter on this post. (If you’ve already pre-ordered Lock Nut, I’ll be happy to substitute winner’s choice from my backlist).

 I’ll send the winner their copy on release date, 14th May.

Just leave a comment on this post (wherever you see it) including your email address by 25th April to be in with a chance – and please do check out the other posts on RJ’s list for more giveaways! 😀

Still waters run deadly.

Tom Paretski, plumber with a talent for finding hidden things, and his private investigator fiancé Phil Morrison have been hired to locate a runaway husband, Jonathan Parrot. The job seems simple enough—until their quarry turns up dead in a canal, and a photofit of Tom’s face is splashed all over the news, making him chief suspect.

The widow, petite ex–porn star Lilah Lovett, is convinced her husband was killed by his gay lover, but Tom and Phil aren’t so sure. Worried they may have precipitated Jonathan’s death, they’re determined to find the real killer. But with a web of incestuous ties linking the suspects, it’s hard to know who to trust. Especially when a second victim dies a gruesome death.

Meanwhile, with their wedding looming and them sharing a house now, Tom’s worried it may all be too much, too fast. The last thing he needs are the mixed messages Phil seems to be sending out. They’ll need to get back on the same track if they want to make it to their honeymoon together—and alive.

Due out in ebook and paperback on 14 May, 2018

and now available to pre-order


About jlmerrow

JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea. She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again. Her one regret is that she never mastered the ability of punting one-handed whilst holding a glass of champagne. She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and the paranormal, and is frequently accused of humour. Find JL Merrow online at:
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18 Responses to Autism Awareness – Communication & Computers

  1. Tanja says:

    Thank you for participating in RJ’s Autism Awareness blog hop.
    You are so right. Computers can help tremendously for autistic people, and for other with sensory difficulties for that matter. I don’t like those websites with moving bars or something either. They are so distracting.
    My autistic son loves his computer. He can communicate so much better as he can take his time to think about what he wants to say.
    tankie44 at gmail dot com

    • jlmerrow says:

      Thanks for commenting, and I’m glad to hear your son benefits from his computer.
      Those moving ads are so annoying. I understand people need to make money to fund their websites, but they could easily do it in a less obtrusive manner! 🙂

  2. jaymountney says:

    My autistic grandson uses his computer in exactly the way you describe and some of the games are fantastic. I share your dislike of moving adverts – the ones on TV are fine but when they move while you’re trying to read text they are a nightmare! I end up ignoring both the ad and the text.
    emnicholson at alumni dot manchester dot ac dot uk

    • jlmerrow says:

      Exactly. Keep the moving ads for the TV, or YouTube. They’re just not appropriate – and horrendously distracting – when you’re trying to read static text.

      And I’m glad to hear your grandson’s benefiting from his computer. 🙂

  3. Trix says:

    I’d imagine that your advice would be useful not only for the autistic population, but also those who are suffering from ADD, ADHD, and other conditions. I remember years ago certain cartoons and music videos were altered because they could induce epilepsy in certain people…it all seems annoying at best and dangerous at worst.

  4. I know this is a group effort and I realize that the puzzle piece has become (through Autism Speaks) the de facto symbol for the Autism Spectrum, but to quote my 13-year-old daughter, who has high-functioning ASD, “autism is not a puzzle to be solved.” Her brain is wired differently than others but that doesn’t mean it’s broken apart.

    I adore this series, have reread it bunches of times, and can not wait for this book to come out!

    • jlmerrow says:

      I must confess I was ignorant of the origins of the jigsaw puzzle piece symbol. I totally understand your and your daughter’s concerns, and I’ll pass them on to RJ, who is the organiser of this hop (and the mother of an autistic son). I’m sorry for any distress caused by using this logo.

      And thank you for your kind words re the Plumber’s Mate Mysteries! 🙂

    • Rj Scott says:

      Hi, this is RJ Scott, the originator of the blog hop. I was concerned when you brought this up, as I have had my issues with Autism Speaks in the past. I have actually always linked the puzzle piece to being a human mystery, not so much an autism connection.

      However, i researched, because I’m trying to raise awareness, and not cause issues anywhere. The origins of the jigsaw piece, the primary symbol for autism, actually goes back to 1963. …

      “It was created by Gerald Gasson, a parent and board member for the National Autistic Society (formerly The Society for Autistic Children) in London. The board believed autistic people suffered from a ‘puzzling’ condition. They adopted the logo because it didn’t look like any other image used for charitable or commercial use … “

      I don’t see my son as a puzzle to be *solved* I see him as a young man who needs to be understood for who he is in his own right. The concept of the word solved when applied to a jigsaw puzzle means that the puzzle is done, finished, that there is a solution.

      The solution we should all strive for as humans is understanding, education and tolerance for anything that is outside of our comfort zone. That, it seems to me is a puzzle that will never be solved.

      Please feel free to contact me direct, at if you would like to chat about this in any way.

      RJ X

  5. Thanks for the very informative post. I also prefer web pages with clean lines and little or no moving text.

  6. Susana Perez says:

    Thank you for the very interesting post, Jamie. I agree with you, many times we complain about computers and technology, but we fail to see the world of possibilities behind them…

  7. nblibgirl says:

    Another vote for simpler, cleaner static screens. And thank you for posting/blogging on a site that is yours, and not Facebook! Can’t wait for the new book . . . 🙂

  8. H.B. says:

    Too late for the giveaway but I wanted to stop in anyway to thank you for taking part in the hop!

  9. jlmerrow says:

    And the winner of the draw is: ButtonsMom2003
    Congrats! You should have an email from me already – please get in touch if it’s got lost in the ether!

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