Autistic kids and Cameras: A good combination

CC BY-NC-ND by Jonathan_W (@whatie)

CC BY-NC-ND by Jonathan_W (@whatie)

Two weeks ago, Autism Daily News began our report on two programs that help autism children communicate using photography.  We followed this up with a closer looked at five affordable cameras that have received good reviews. We wanted to re-evaluate them for use by those on the Autism Spectrum. Our results can be found here.  This week we look at five additional budget cameras that have fared well in the tech reviews.

All kids love cameras and they love to take pictures. It can be an opportunity to see into the mind of your child. Whether your child is non-verbal or not, photography offers a new way to communicate. Many autistic children feel colours – so what they photograph may provide clues into  how they see the world.

What should a parent consider when buying a digital camera for an autistic child?

Each child is different and has different needs. The same is true with how he or she might utilize a camera.  While manual dexterity may be an issue for one, it may not be a serious consideration for another. Here are some rules of thumb which will probably apply to most kids in general:

  • Durability: No matter the child, kids can be less careful in handling items. Even budget cameras cost a fair amount so the sturdier the better.
  • Long Battery Life:  Autistic kids (in fact most kids) love to view the pictures they have taken from the camera in the view finder. This can quickly drain the battery. So the longer the life or having lots of back-up batteries is important. A rechargeable battery is helpful but it is often best to have two as you may not be near an electrical outlet when you need to recharge.
  • Memory Size: Often once an image is downloaded to a computer or elsewhere and deleted from the camera, children do not bother to look at the pictures again. The more you can store on the camera directly, the more they will be accessed. We know of one teenager who would rather take a photograph of the computer screen, even though he knows how to download the image onto his computer.
  • Manual Dexterity: Most of the budget cameras are small in size. This shouldn’t pose any problems but the size of the buttons may be an issue. Check the grip of the camera as well.
  • Less is More: Remember all the features on the old video playback machines? Our advice is the simpler the better. Most children will use the automatic features and may not be as inclined to experiment with other settings.
  • Cost: While the cameras we review may not be the cheapest, they do offer the best value overall. That said, perhaps last years model may offer a better buy than going with the latest version.