You are currently viewing Technology and autism: Innovations in Communication for Non-Verbal Individuals

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has a very broad spectrum that means that not every single person diagnosed is the same, but they’re actually single in different ways, and contrary to popular belief, non-verbal individuals are not actually diagnosed as such. Instead, it is a designation given to a subset of people on the autistic spectrum who have not learned to speak or only speak a few words, accounting for between 25% to 30% of those diagnosed with ASD.

However, with the advent of evolving artificial intelligence (AI), studies are being conducted to further facilitate non-verbal autistic individuals, as well as those non-verbal for other reasons, in expressing their thoughts and desires more easily to others.

Redefining Non-Verbal Communication

Artificial Intelligence (AI) presents a more intuitive and readily accessible means of communication, particularly through natural language processing, and can provide a powerful tool for learning and skill development. This functionality simplifies the translation of complex ideas into more digestible language, aiding individuals with autism in expressing themselves more effectively. Additionally, it facilitates their comprehension and connection with others, ultimately promoting smoother communication and social interaction.

As a current example, we have an AI-powered app created by SocialMind Autism that provides practical guidance to parents and caregivers on moments of attempted verbalization they may have otherwise overlooked. It mainly targets children under five, as those years are critical in building language skills. Through videos of their structured therapy sessions at home, which they record and upload to the app, the trained AI technology analyzes them within a three-day period.

The app features a program based on Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT), an evidence-based behavioral treatment for autism that increases the child’s motivation to learn and initiate communication, and improves their social skills.

In addition to this, the Irish digital health firm seamlessCARE has launched an app called “Empathic” that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to interpret emotions. This can assist individuals who have fewer than 20 functional words, as well as those who cannot type or use other assisted technology. The app can interpret up to 10 emotions, and caregivers record the sounds made by the non-verbal person, with the AI interpreting how they are feeling.

Towards Inclusive Communication

It is vital to understand the diversity and complexity of the autism spectrum, especially regarding non-verbal individuals. Although often underestimated, these individuals possess alternative communication skills and can lead fulfilling and happy lives. The development of artificial intelligence offers promising opportunities to further improve the communication and social interaction of these individuals. Recent examples, such as the apps developed by SocialMind Autism and seamlessCARE, demonstrate how AI can be used to interpret and respond to the emotional and communication needs of non-verbal individuals, contributing to greater inclusion and quality of life for all on the autism spectrum.


M2 droit de l’économie numérique – Promotion 2023/2024

Sources :

  1. App Interpets Emotions of Non-Verbal
  2. Finding A Voice: How AI Is Helping Children With Autism
  3. Empowering Autism: How Artificial Intelligence Can Help Non-Verbal Individuals Communicate and Thrive
  4. Everything to know about nonverbal autism
  5. Understanding Nonverbal Autism

A propos de Beatriz COELHO GUEDES DE PAIVA

En formation en Master 2, Droit de l'Économie Numérique à l'Université de Strasbourg

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