Browser For The Autistic

Published Date
01 - Jul - 2008
| Last Updated
01 - Jul - 2008
 
Browser For The Autistic

HELP AT HAND


Autism is a condition that prevents a person from enjoying effective social interaction with others. It’s a brain development disorder that may be genetic, and requires life long management. Among other primary symptoms, patients with this condition are bewildered by choices and wide variety of media, something which is ubiquitous when using a computer and going online. Being unable to access the Net, sit in front of a computer, or even a television, is a pretty big millstone and forces them to be even less normal than they are before. Since most patients are diagnosed with autism as children, it means a life long aversion to essential technology.

For parents and well-wishers associated with treatment of autism, there is hope. A special browser has been designed for children suffering from autism, which eases their introduction to the Internet. Designed by a software engineer whose own grandson is afflicted with this condition, the Zac Browser for Autistic Children is free and available for download at http://www.zacbrowser.com/. It is named after six-year-old Zachary who was diagnosed with autism, making him confused and vulnerable to attacks of frustration and low esteem.

The Zac browser can either be downloaded from the Web site or run without installing. It disables unnecessary buttons on the keyboard like the [Print Screen] and also the right-click option of the mouse. Web sites with violent images and / or pornography are blocked. In fact, the Zac browser only allows a selected list of child friendly Web sites culled from reputed resources. The icons are larger than usual and also look like real world objects such as balls and pile of books. The browser also blocks all pop up and flash-based ads that might distract the users. Using the browser, Zachary can now listen to music and play simple games, things that he liked, but were too traumatising to do, because of being unable to navigate complicated menus. According to his parents, television is still something he can’t stand, but the computer is slowly becoming his new best friend. Doctors hope that as time passes, he would gain enough confidence to go into the big bad world of ordinary browsers and unfiltered content.

Doctors and child psychologists are impressed with the Zac browser, despite it being not a one-size-fits-all solution for autistic children. Researchers have long looked at tools that can aid these children to learn and play online, but the results have been unsatisfactory. A lot of customisation is needed for autistic patients to aid their online expeditions, as autism can have divergent and sometimes mutually contradictory symptoms. However, the Zac browser is definitely a good place to start from.

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