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Boy With Autism Is Best Friends With Siri

The Incredible Story of How an Autistic Boy Became Best Friends With Siri


Many people bash on Siri because of her faults, but one mother is singing its praises. In a moving New York Times piece (and the ABC video above), Judith Newman explains how the virtual assistant tremendously helps her 13-year-old autistic son. Siri is his best friend — a presence that is patient and funny, nonjudgmental and knowledgeable.

For instance, Gus has obsessions with trains and planes. Siri entertains him with facts about them. Gus needs to practice his speech. Because of how she operates, Siri forces him to enunciate. Newman details plenty of other touching examples.

"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.'"

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But mostly, it comes down to how Siri makes Gus feel.

"Of all the worries the parent of an autistic child has, the uppermost is will he find love? Or even companionship? Somewhere along the line, I am learning that what gives my guy happiness is not necessarily the same as what gives me happiness," she writes. "Right now, at his age, a time when humans can be a little overwhelming even for the average teenager, Siri makes Gus happy. She is his sidekick."

Read the whole story here, and don't be surprised if you start seeing Siri in a whole different way.

Front page source: Getty / Karen Bleier

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