NYT: How Apple’s Siri Became One Autistic Boy’s B.F.F.

Judith Newman writes on how Siri is able to help her 13-year-old autistic son Gus indulge himself in all his information-rich queries:

She is also wonderful for someone who doesn’t pick up on social cues: Siri’s responses are not entirely predictable, but they are predictably kind — even when Gus is brusque. I heard him talking to Siri about music, and Siri offered some suggestions. “I don’t like that kind of music,” Gus snapped. Siri replied, “You’re certainly entitled to your opinion.” Siri’s politeness reminded Gus what he owed Siri. “Thank you for that music, though,” Gus said. Siri replied, “You don’t need to thank me.” “Oh, yes,” Gus added emphatically, “I do.

This piece reminds me of another young autistic boy who felt empowered after seeing Drax the Destroyer in this summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy:

I took my little brother (who falls on the autism spectrum) to see Guardians of the Galaxy and after this scene he lit up like a Christmas tree and screamed “He’s like me! He can’t do metaphors!” And for the rest of the film my brother stared at Drax in a state of rapture.

So for the last 6 days I have heard my brother repeatedly quote all of the Drax lines from the movie verbatim (one of his talents), begin studying vocabulary test words, and tell everyone he knows that people with autism can also be superheroes.

Delightful.

About Jim

Jim Christian is the author of 'How to Code in Minecraft' and the forthcoming 'How to Think Like a Coder (Without Even Trying)'.

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