It has been observed that children suffering from autism have shown a good improvement when they are taught to use applications on the iPad or iPhone. Here is information about the best apps for such children, which act as stress busters and are also used as teaching tools.
Autism is a developmental disorder which affects a vast majority of children in the United States. Symptoms of autism in children usually become apparent by the time they are 18 months. An autistic child faces communication problems, does not show linguistic skills at par with kids his age, and does not interact socially. Treatment usually involves undergoing various kinds of therapies, along with medication. Parents and teachers of autistic children are looking at different resources to help such children learn and grasp new things easily, and one of them is iPhone and iPad apps (available on the iTunes store). These apps do not cure the disorder, but assist parents and kids to work on the language and vocabulary skills, and fine-tune their motor and sensory abilities, which are essential for their normal development. Some of the best autism-friendly apps (some of which are also available on Android, on Google Play) are enlisted below.
AutismXpress ~ Free (available on Android)
This app has been specifically created keeping in mind the difficulties faced by autistic people, especially kids. With an interactive and kid-friendly interface, it teaches them different visual expressions, something which they otherwise might have a hard time to comprehend. Children can learn to copy the various faces to learn how to interpret emotions.
iComm ~ Free
One of the best suited apps for kids who face speech and developmental disabilities, iComm stands for I Communicate; and that is exactly what it does – helps young children overcome their communication problems using pictures and words in written and oral format. The Edit feature allows you to add and record more words, along with the audio, so it becomes easy for the child to associate the word with the picture. If you really like this app, you may want to upgrade to include more word categories. The upgrade version is available for $7.99. This app is not designed to work on iTouch.
TapToTalk ~ Free (available on Android)
Created as an AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) app for children with limited communication abilities, TapToTalk comes loaded with a collection of over 2000 images. All the user has to do is tap a picture tile to enable TapToTalk to speak. Tapping an image opens up a different set of images. You can even add your own sounds and images to the app, and it even provides the facility for a user to record his or her own voice.
Model Me Going Places 2 ~ Free
This easy-to-use app teaches children with autism and Asperger’s syndrome the appropriate behavioral techniques which should be applied when interacting with others in the community. Examples include locations like the hairdresser, restaurant, grocery store, etc. The app features a series of photos of each location, and the child can learn visually by easily navigating using back/forward buttons or playing a slideshow. A descriptive explanation for each photo along with an audio in English is also provided.
Look in My Eyes 1 Restaurant ~ $2.99
Maintaining eye contact with other people is a common problem faced by autistic children. This app was specifically designed to help kids overcome this shortcoming. It involves a game which demands that children focus on a person’s eyes; the more they focus and answer correctly, the more points they garner. Repeatedly playing this game will help the children to concentrate on a person’s eyes during a conversation, a trait which they otherwise find difficult to master.
Angry Octopus ~ $7.99
An app that tells the story of how an octopus learns to control his anger with the help of the sea child, Angry Octopus is a very effective tool for children with behavioral problems and helps to pacify them. Very convenient to use with amazing animation effects and lots of illustrations, maneuvering through the story is made easy by just swiping the finger to get to the next or previous page. Kids especially like the Bubble Burst feature, which can have them glued to the story.
First Then Visual Schedule ~ $9.99 (available on Android)
Catering to the needs of children who face behavioral and communication problems, this app helps you create your own schedule. For example, you can create a schedule for your child which outlines how to go about eating his breakfast. It creates a structured environment through a visual interface, along with images, which children find easy to follow. Completely customizable, you can update the already created environment to suit your child’s current needs.
iConverse ~ $9.99
Designed as an AAC (Augmentative Alternative Communication) application, it addresses the communication skills of people and children who have speech disabilities. It uses the PECS – Picture Exchange Communication System to assist individuals who face difficulty during conversation. It comes loaded with built-in icons that cater to an individual’s needs, namely how to drink, eat, and use the bathroom.
Stories2Learn ~ $13.99
This app has been designed with the assistance of teachers, psychologists, and therapists for children battling autism and other developmental disabilities. It can be used to create stories which teach various concepts we deal within our everyday lives.
Grace ~ $24.99
This app is also a PECS, and assists autistic children to convey their wants on their own. By selecting from several images, users can create meaningful sentences. The pictures also prompt the user to attempt to be more vocal, and over time, they can even learn to say what they have created on the interface. You can even add your own images, either from a camera or after downloading them from the Internet.
MyTalkTools Mobile ~ $49.99
Developed for special children, MyTalkTools Mobile is also another AAC app. A library of images and sounds, including files recorded using a human voice are included, which help the user to communicate easily. Being customizable, the user can also create his own stories using the pictures and audio files which suits his or her daily requirements.
iCommunicate for iPad ~ $49.99
This is another app which can be used as an AAC device. It has been created for individuals who are more at ease with visual communication, and for kids to help fine-tune their motor skills and coordination. Along with the help of custom and downloadable images, you can create flashcards, stories, and structured routines. It comes with a text-to-speech converter to convert words to audio format.
Proloquo2Go ~ $189.99
Designed for people who face difficulty while conversing, Proloquo2Go is the perfect app which provides enhanced features which act as a substitute solution to communication. It’s an affordable solution to an AAC device. Extremely user-friendly, it comes with a host of features, like automatic word suggestions and text-to-speech voices.
These are some of the best apps designed keeping the needs of autistic children in mind. These apps have helped a lot of children overcome their social inhibitions, and parents and teachers are pleased with the progress the kids have shown after their use.