If you are looking for some ways to use your iPhone or iPad as a teaching tool for a child with ASD, we have an excellent resource for you! The 2015 revision of “Apps for Autism,” by Lois Jean Brady, describes and reviews over 200 apps that can be used to promote behavioral, social, communication, and cognitive development for children with ASD. Apps range from visual timers and organizers, to activities for building vocabulary, using video modeling, and teaching social and daily living skills. Some of our READi Lab team members have highlighted specific apps of interest below:
Allycen: Several listings in the “Pragmatics and Social Skills” chapter look really helpful for augmenting children’s social communication skills. There are a few options for all ages that model and explain appropriate behavior, dressing, and group skills for social situations. For younger kids, one is called “Model Me Going Places 2,” and it shows children examples of appropriate behavior in a variety of situations, like going to the hairdresser or the doctor. A bonus for this app is it is free! Another set of useful apps for kids are “Eye Contact – Toybox” and “Look In My Eyes 1 – Restaurant.” These both are designed to be fun games for kids that also allow them to practice eye contact and reward them for quickly focusing on a person’s eyes. These apps are $2.99 each.
Lisa: The “Kid in Story Book Maker” by Enuma allows parents to create and share customized picture storybooks with photos with their child as the star character! Parents even have the option of adding a “narrator” by recording their own voice or their child’s voice to each page. The app includes 12 story templates created by award-winning app designers, which make it easy and fun to create visual stories to support learning, social modeling, and early literacy for all children. This app costs $6.99, but there is a free demo available as well through the Apple Store!
Amanda: The “VASTtx” by SpeakinMotion is designed to support individuals who are nonverbal. The app uses a ‘hear it, see it, and practice it’ approach to learning language, displaying pre-recorded videos to facilitate simultaneous visual and auditory input of precise oral movements. VASTtx Therapy Samples is a sampling of therapeutic content, providing support in multiple areas and levels of speech therapy. VASTtx provides two app options, offering Key Words as a supplement to Therapy Samples. Key words provides users with the tools needed to build speech and functional communication, and practice the basic motor speech patterns necessary to produce all the consonant phonemes. The app also contains a detailed guide for integrating this material into a speech language therapy program. Therapy Samples costs $9.99 and Key Words costs $12.99.
Devyani: “Between the Lines” (Levels 1, 2, and Advanced) by Hamaguchi is designed to help elementary school students and adolescents (ideally 3rd grade+) understand the intricacies of social communication, such as vocal intonation, facial expressions, perspective taking, body language, and idiomatic or slang expressions. Instead of an automated voice or animated character, this app uses real voices, photographs and short mini-video clips for a variety of social situations and expressions! Through using this app, your child can practice mastering the more subjective aspects of every day interactions with others. Although the creators do not explicitly say so, the app seems likely to be more helpful for higher functioning children on the autism spectrum. The app costs $15.99 (but can be used for multiple children) and a Lite version is available for $.99. Disclaimer from the creators of the app: this is NOT a social modeling application; some clips at the advanced level will say or do things that are sarcastic or rude (e.g. interrupting and conversation) to help children identify these behaviors in their peers, but NOT with the intention of teaching them to imitate these behaviors. Thus, parent/adult coaching is advised.
TO OUR READERS: If you find any apps you like, feel free to email us at READilab@uw.edu and we’ll include your reviews on our website!