Autism is a disorder characterized by social awkwardness. Autistic people fail to comfortably communicate with people and mingle with crowds. They are quiet and reserved. Social Networking sites facilitate communication amongst people all over the world. Social Networking sites enable people to communicate with each other without face-to-face interaction. It helps create new bonds and strengthen existing ones. This is a feature that allows many people to openly express themselves and build strong bonds.
For people who suffer from Autism, computers and such websites are a source of expression and encouragement to gradually build a trusted social circle. Since they react negatively to loud sound and certain colours, websites like Facebook and MySpace allow them to customize settings to meet their comfort level. Autistic people are better at non verbal communication and social networking websites provide them with the opportunity to do that (Cumpata, & Fell, 2010). According to the Focal Theory, the focal point is the point that people refer to because it comes naturally to them.
Social networking sites serve as a focal point for them as it allows them to be themselves and interact with people; behavior that they otherwise find difficult to exhibit (Derbyshire, 2009). They can get their message across by updating their statuses, uploading pictures and creating profiles without needing to verbally communicate with anyone. Social Cognitive Theory suggests that patients of Autism learn to imitate the behavior of their friends through online interaction. This encourages them to open up in person and gradually enhances their confidence when dealing with people face to face.
The Social Learning Theory suggests that online interaction of Autistic people helps them understand the joy of socializing. This positive reinforcement enables them to overcome their communication block and makes them want to indulge in real face to face interaction (Cumpata, & Fell, 2010). Social networking sites help people with social disorders to communicate more easily. People who suffer from Autism are socially awkward and are comfortable with online interaction which builds up their confidence to communicate with people face to face.