Autism online: A review of how autistic people communicate virtually – Drexel University

Prior to COVID-19, communication via the internet was already a regular feature of everyday interactions for most people, including those on the autism spectrum. Various studies have shown how autistic people use information and communication technology (ICT) since the early 2000s, some finding that autistic people may prefer to communicate using the internet instead of in-person. However, no systematic review has been conducted to summarize these findings.

To understand what has been discovered so far, researchers from Drexel University’s A.J. Drexel Autism Institute collected and reviewed published research about how autistic youth and adults use the internet to communicate and provide a framework for understanding contributions, gaps and opportunities in online autistic communities.

Lead author Elizabeth McGhee Hassrick, PhD, an assistant professor in the Autism Institute, and her co-authors cast a wide net searching across five databases that list studies investigating how autistic people use the internet to communicate. Filtering for specific criteria, they read 32 articles, collected their most important findings and looked for patterns.

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