Autism and Social Networking

Autism is a developmental disorder which usually appears in the first 3 years of life. It affects the brain's normal development of social and communication skills. Children with autism usually have difficulty with social interactions. Some of the problems they have, are that they cannot start or maintain conversations, are withdrawn, do not make friends, and may treat others like they are objects. It's ironic that the founder of Facebook, one of the largest social networking sites, Mark Zuckerberg, has deficits when it come to face-to-face social interaction. Most likely he is on the Autism spectrum and has Aspergers syndrome. The main symptom of Aspergers is difficulty with social situations.
Social networking is a way for people to get information and communicate and interact with others. Children with autism have difficulty creating and maintaining friendships and this becomes more of a problem when they reach middle and high school since social interactions are an important part of the day. Social networks will benefit children with autism since it will be a way for children on all ends of the autistic spectrum to maintain friendships and be socially active.
Children with autism are just as interested in using the internet to get information and make and maintain friendships. One barrier that these children have is that they do not truly understand the definition of" friend" and could end up trying to contact people they shouldn't. Another barrier that children with autism will face is that they will have difficulty understanding the social cues in social networking. To get beyond these barriers, they will require extra guidance and support from parents.
There are some social networking websites specifically designed to overcome barriers. Squag is a safe platform which requires at least 50% parental involvement. Parents have access to every conversation the children have so they can monitor everything. It was designed to slow things down so students could reflect privately. ( . is a site where students can communicate in a user-led social network where they can share their experiences and plan their futures with people like them ( has a discussion forum where they can communicate with each other ( was created as a support for those affected by autism (
Students with autism should be able to utilize social networking in a safe monitored environment where they can express themselves.