Siri Offers Friendship to a Young Autistic Boy
Recently we came across a story so special and touching we couldn’t help but share it. The article in question shares the story of a young boy with autism named Gus, and his budding “relationship” with Apple’s intelligent digital assistant Siri. It gives us all something to think about in terms of how we interact with technology, and one another.
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder which affects the brain’s ability to process and organize information. The specifics of how this occurs have yet to be understood. As of now, there is no particular known cause, nor is there a cure. As a spectrum disorder symptoms manifest in a variety of ways and to varying severity. They include impairment of social abilities, verbal and nonverbal communication skills as well as a propensity for repetitive behavior and pattern seeking.
The article explains that Gus had difficulty communicating with others. Gus also possesses certain fixations on things like weather patterns and modes of transportation, another common occurrence for those on the autistic spectrum. This is where Siri comes in.
Gus’s mother wrote this heartfelt piece in which she explained that Siri will patiently “talk” with her son for hours on end, and supply answers to his obscure questions to the best of Siri’s ability. Gus’s mom describes “predictably kind” responses from the digital assistant as a perfect complement to a boy with difficulty picking up social cues. Beyond simply being able to engage Gus without the frustration of some adults, or the misunderstanding of some children, Siri actually helps him improve his skills through repetition. Siri’s limitations in understanding speech actually prove to be an asset, as Gus is forced to adapt ever so slightly, yet dependably. He is forced to alter his patterns to meet Siri’s in an exercise that mirrors more typical human interaction, which helps him grow.
Siri’s Responses Help Autistic Boy Improve Speech, Social Skills
Gus’s mother watches this and is filled with hope for the future and delighted to see a new kind of joy enter her son. In between funny anecdotes and ideas for future developments in the field, her story speaks to the part of every parent that simply wants their child to find the things that make them happy. While Siri may not be a real friend, “she” offers Gus some aspects of friendship and companionship that are as welcome as they are unexpected.
To us it speaks of finding hope in unexpected places. Gus’s mom reminds us that we should never stop trying, nor should we be quick to judge or shun any unexpected aid. With our eyes and hearts open we may be fortunate enough to stumble upon support and joy that we didn’t know were there. Gus’s mother truly appreciates the gifts given to her and her child, as well as every opportunity to help Gus grow.
What we should all take away from this piece is for us to strive not to be judgemental, but rather patient, adaptable and polite. If a machine is capable of these things, can’t we too be more tolerant and accepting of other people we meet, despite their differences from us?
Another fantastic lesson comes towards the end of the article; one that benefits all parents. It comes in a quote from Gus’s mother describing a realization she has while accepting that her wants for Gus may not line up with his wants for himself:
“Somewhere along the line, I am learning that what gives my guy happiness is not necessarily the same as what gives me happiness. ”
Young Gus’s interaction with Siri is a reminder to all of us that our personal truths may differ from those of our parents or children. Another person may seem different from us, yet we are all united in our desire to be happy. We need to strive more to understand one another’s needs. When we look at another person, we should try to think about their happiness, and what we may be able to do to further it.
The piece written by Gus’s mom speaks for itself, and represents the very best of the content we strive to discover and disseminate to our readers. Little else we could say would do justice to the inspiration offered by Gus’s mother. The story she tells is both touching and, at times, humorous. It speaks of hope on the part of a mother and simple joy on the part of a son. We strongly encourage you to read it for yourself (as well as together with your children) and see why it is so important.
Please read and share this article, as well as share with us what you got out of it.