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How to Get Helpful Apps for Autism

By Tina Werderman | Posted on 04.28.2014 | 0 comments
How to Get Helpful Apps for Autism
Nine-year-old Jeffery stomps his feet and yells, “Noooooooo!” as his mother, Nina, hands him his raincoat and boots on the way out the door to school.

“No rain,” he says, pointing to the blue sky on this bright, sunny spring day.

To Jeffrey, it’s clear; it’s not raining, so he doesn’t need a raincoat. But Nina knows thunderstorms are forecasted for the afternoon. Yet communicating this to her son, who is on the autism spectrum, often results in power struggles and arguments.

Now, Nina reaches for technology to help. She opens up YoWindow, a free visual weather app on the family iPad, and lets Jeffery see the weather that’s coming at 3 PM. Torrential rain pours down on their very own house on the screen. Reluctantly, Jeff reaches for his raingear and tromps off to the bus.

According to www.appbrain.com, there are more than 1.1 million Android apps on the market. Apple announced their 1,000,000th app a few months ago. There may quite literally be an app for everything.  How can you find the right app for the right task without getting lost in a sea of technology?

Search For the Skill
It may be helpful to search under the skill you are trying to build or the subject matter itself rather than searching under “autism” as a keyword.

In the iPad App Store, a search under “weather” reveals YoWindow in the third or fourth row down after traditional weather apps such as The Weather Channel.

When you find a useful app, that developer may have more you may be interested in. Once you select the app in an app store, scroll down to the developer’s website for other app choices:
  • Innovative Mobile Apps hosts many skill building apps, including ABA Flash Cards and Touch and Learn-Emotions where you can insert customized photos.
  • The Toca Boca app series allows children to create stories about “real life scenarios” using their own photos.
  • Bridging Apps boasts 1315 apps specializing in people with disabilities. 

Sometimes, it will take some digging on our part to unearth that one app you’ve been trying to find. Network with other human service professionals and ask them what apps they use. Visit blogs and forums designed for this purpose, or create a blog or Facebook page for others to add useful apps.

More Apps To Check Out
Here are a few other apps you may find useful for individuals on the Autism Spectrum:
Of course, we could keep writing into next year describing various apps and their usefulness, but it really depends on a variety of factors, such as the present skill level of the individual, user friendliness, accessibility, staff’s technology integration skills, time, and budget.

One thing to always keep in mind, though, is the true purpose of why you want the app in the first place: To promote independence and interaction for the individual on the autism spectrum.

So it may take some detective work to find the right technological tool for the task, but it’s worth it. Happy app hunting! Oh, and don’t forget to check out our Top 10 PBIS Online Resources for more on supporting students’ positive behavior and their social, emotional, and behavioral needs.

What apps do you recommend?
 
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