Baron-Cohen (1991) speculates that the innate ability to spontaneously reference an interesting object, event, or person in the world — using proto-declarative pointing (think of a one-year-old pointing at a plane) — allows young children to share the directed attention and interests of another individual: creating shared attention while, at the same time, stimulating theory of mind development. Theory of mind is a crucial social-cognitive ability that involves a number of skills such as understanding a person’s intentions, sharing attention, and tracking eye gaze. Baron-Cohen (1991) posits that theory of mind may be the underlying cognitive and motivational factor supporting the entirety of human communication.
Despite their difficulty sharing attention with another person, people with ASD can be highly motivated and focused to learn — given the right motivation. Mobile devices are objects which tend to be highly interesting and motivating to people with autism. Because of their inclination to attend to a device or computer, people with autism tend to respond well to interventions, games, or other activities that involve these devices. Additionally, these devices often use interfaces that incorporate pointing, so interacting with a child on the spectrum — while using an iPad — helps him point at interesting objects and share attention on the task