Autism Theory and Technology

A photo of an autistic boy using an iPad with his teacher.

An autism-spectrum student uses a storytelling iPad® app with Katie Kelley, Speech Language Pathologist. This app, Toontastic, walks the student through the steps of a good story, letting them narrate and animate the characters. They adjust each scene’s music for "emotional energy level,” and then the app plays the story back so the student can hear their own voice. It can be used for individual sessions, or in group work on collaboration as part of a social skills program. (Photo courtesy of Amy Newton. Used with permission.)


MIT Course Number


As Taught In

Spring 2011



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Course Features

Course Description

This course illuminates current theories about autism together with challenges faced by people on the autism spectrum. Theories in communicating, interacting socially, managing cognitive and affective overload, and achieving independent lifestyles are covered. In parallel, the course presents state-of-the-art technologies being developed for helping improve both theoretical understanding and practical outcomes. Participants are expected to meet and interact with people on the autism spectrum. Weekly reading, discussion, and a term project are required.

Archived Versions

Picard, Rosalind, and Matthew Goodwin. MAS.771 Autism Theory and Technology, Spring 2011. (MIT OpenCourseWare: Massachusetts Institute of Technology), (Accessed). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

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