April is National Autism Awareness Month. The Autism Society launched this nationwide effort nearly 25 years ago to promote autism awareness and inclusion, and to assure that each person with autism spectrum disorder is provided the opportunity to achieve the highest possible quality of life.
Comcast believes that one of the most rewarding things about creating assistive technologies for people with disabilities is how they sometimes deliver surprising, unexpected benefits that go beyond their intended purpose. That sentiment has never more true than when it comes to technology and its impact on people with autism.
With that in mind, we spoke to Jimnahs, an Xfinity customer and an autism advocate in Connecticut, who has a nine-year old autistic son, Caleb.
Q: What are some of the things you’re doing in the community to bring more awareness to autism?
A: Currently I sit on the Autism Spectrum Disorder Advisory Council, which reports back to the Connecticut Department of Social Services with recommendations on how to develop and allocate treatment resources for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and their families.
Q: We understand that autism is different for each person, so can you tell us how you would explain autism and how it impacts you and your son?
A: Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that individuals can range from high to low functionality. Higher functioning individuals may appear to have social quirks while lower functioning individuals may be nonverbal or unable to do specific tasks on their own. One thing I’ve learned is that most individuals with autism experience some type of sensory processing disorder, which leads a person to be over- or under-responsive to stimuli from the world around them. My son, Caleb, falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum and deals with sensory issues.
Q: What are some of the things your son loves to do?
A: We have a great set of tools that allow my son to take sensory breaks so he can recharge and come back to accomplish a task. For a sensory break, he likes to ground himself by arranging a collection of little figurines in order by size, color or type. His favorite thing to do, however, is jump on a small trampoline we have in our living room—this activity helps him reset his connection to the world around him and feel in a better physical place.
I’ll add that while on the trampoline, my son loves watching Xfinity TV.
Q: Are there features of Xfinity X1 that make TV viewing simple for your son?
A: Yes, we couldn’t live without the X1 voice remote. He has actually memorized each “Dora” episode to speak into the remote, so he knows exactly what he wants to watch. The playlist feature on Xfinity’s X1 platform also changed my life—I can set him up with a playlist of his favorite Xfinity on Demand shows for the amount of screen time he’s earned, and he can independently watch his programs while jumping on his trampoline. He is “in the zone” and carefree when he combines his screen time, which he earns by doing some chores, with his trampoline. Plus, I’m able to do what I need to around the house because the playlist is all set; I used to have to put on a new show for him every 24 minutes!
Q: Do you and your son use any other products?
A: We also could not live without our X1 Cloud DVR. There are certain episodes of shows that my son loves to watch because it is part of a routine behavior that is a source of joy and comfort for him, which can be the case for many individuals with autism. Due to that, I would never dream of deleting our DVR recordings! Also, Xfinity Stream has been a game-changer. I can set my son up to watch his favorite shows, including programs from our DVR, while we’re out running errands or at a restaurant and it keeps him calm, focused and entertained. Plus, when I’m within range of an Xfinity WiFi hotspot, I can connect to it and avoid data usage.
Q: Is there anything else to share about your Xfinity experience?
A: I must give a huge shout out to Comcast’s local Care agents, who are so empathetic. Anytime I’ve called about something, the agents are understanding, helpful and ready to go above and beyond for me and my son. Thank you!
For more information about how Comcast creates a positive experience for people of all abilities through Xfinity products, visit: https://www.xfinity.com/hub/customer-experience/autism-awareness.