#TechTuesday: 5 apps to help kids with autism

2013-05-23 16:57:07 by Laurie Schueler, Media Relations Specialist, as posted on the inside.akronchildrens.org blog.

A growing number of apps have been developed to help children with autism. And in recognition of Autism Awareness Month, this week’s Tech Tuesday post features app recommendations for children with speech difficulties and autism.

Children with autism typically have difficulties with pretend play, social interactions, and verbal and nonverbal communication. They also often have intense interests and display repetitive behaviors.

Akron Children’s speech pathologist Lisa Gonidakis, CCC-SLP, recommends these apps:

PhotoBooth – This app offers a fun way for a parent and child to practice “mouth exercises” and speech sounds. Rather than using a mirror, you and your child can do oral-motor exercises (as recommended by your child’s speech-language pathologist) in PhotoBooth, first in normal mode and then using the face distortion feature or other special effects. Your children can also snap pictures of their oral-motor postures for extra reinforcement. This $2.99 app comes standard on many Apple devices.

Cookie Doodle – Using this app, children can make cookies of any flavor, shape and color by following the interactive recipe. They can then decorate their cookies with frostings, sprinkles and candies. “This is a wonderful and motivating app for kids to work on following directions, basic concepts, naming and sentence formulation,” said Gonidakis. For 99 cents, your children can consume lots of educational fun.

Duck Duck Moose – Duck Duck Moose has developed a series of award-winning, fun and motivating apps for youngsters. They teach kids a variety of concepts, including colors, shapes and letters, and keep kids engaged with colorful graphics and sing-a-longs. Each of the apps is $1.99.

Conversation Social Stories and Simple PECS Communication Tool – This app by Touch Autism provides simple, colorful social stories to teach children appropriate ways to greet a friend, ask a question and respect personal space. “Conversation Social Stories is a nice supplement to language therapy or social language groups,” Gonidakis said. The app comprises four social stories about different conversational skills and simple communications tools. It costs $3.99.

Calm Counter – Social Story and Anger Management Tool – Children with language disorders are often unable to clearly express their wants and needs. This app by Touch Autism is a helpful tool to guide children through their emotions when they’re frustrated or angry. It includes a social story about feeling angry as well as video and audio “counters” to help a child calm down. The app is $2.99.

While Gonidakis is an app enthusiast, she cautions parents that the iPad is just a tool in our toolbox of learning and language. It doesn’t replace speech and language therapy and won’t provide a quick fix.

It’s what you do with apps that make them valuable. We encourage parents to play these apps with their children.  Apps related to your child’s speech and language goals should be discussed with your child’s teacher or speech-language pathologist to ensure that settings and tasks are appropriate to address their needs.

If you’re interested in using an iPad as a speech-generating device, discuss the options with your speech pathologist so she can find an app that’s appropriate for your child’s needs and skill level.

For more autism app recommendations, visit Autism Speaks.

Do you use any apps with your autistic child that you would like to recommend?

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