Edited by Jill Wright,
Children with autism can benefit greatly from apps because of their visual nature.
Apps work because they can tap into the visual strengths and interests expressed by many children on the autism spectrum.
While no app on its own can replace the work of parents, educators and therapists, a well-designed app can be a valuable tool that helps children communicate, regulate their emotions and support their skills development.
Here are the top 5 apps we recommend for supporting children with autism:
Video modelling has been shown as an effective way to teach and encourage skill development for children with autism. With this app you can make and edit your own instructional or social story video starring your child or other role models. Your child can watch back to learn the steps or expected behaviours, while also receiving the positive feedback and confidence of seeing what they can do.
This app allows you to make personalised visual schedules that are engaging and practical. By breaking down routines or complicated tasks into simple steps, children can understand what is happening and what is expected of them. The best thing about the app is that you can take photos, upload pictures, or use one of the pictures provided to form the visual component of the schedule. You can also add a voice-over, timer, reward or video to the schedule. Your child can check off each step as they go, and can listen to instructions or watch a video if they forget what to do. This ultimately means more independence, confidence and less anxiety about otherwise overwhelming tasks or uncertainty about what is happening next.
This is another app that allows you to create personalised visuals in the form of social stories. Social stories are an effective way to communicate and teach children with autism about different situations and how to act. The app also has a number of useful pre-made animated social stories available, such as conversation cues, or greetings.
We recommend this app for verbal children between the ages of 8 and 15 years, as it takes them through a range of social skills and situations. Children follow animated character models through various social situations, listen to explanations of the social rules, and interact by responding to questions and selecting the best way for the characters to respond.
This app is in a game format and helps children learn about regulation and the tools for calming down. As this app is text-heavy, we recommend it for children who can read, or have an adult present when using the app. The best feature about this app is that it helps you to communicate with your child about their emotions, set up your own 'rest zone' and gives them the tools to support regulation.
If you would like to find out more about how to integrate visuals with your child's learning and behaviour plan, contact us now on 03 9629 1001.
Our clinical psychologists have more than 10 years' experience working with children on the Autism spectrum, and providing comprehensive assessment for young children, including toddlers.