For parents of kids with autism, finding resources that are actually helpful or suited to your family's needs can be a challenge. Additionally, common learning tools are not always catered to helping children with autism in areas where behavior, strengths, weaknesses, and more can differ from child to child. Finding apps for kids with autism, however, can not only help kids learn but also help with social and behavioral traits along with creating a space for entire families to communicate, track, and schedule.
Utilizing apps that cover areas like emotional recognition, speech, vocabulary, communication, development, and even physical needs can open up a whole new world of possibilities for children with autism. In addition to apps for children, there are also plenty of apps that can assist caretakers and parents through positive reinforcement, scheduling, tracking food or behavioral sensitivities, and more.
If you're hoping to find apps that can help with anything from learning social cues to managing your family's schedule, you may be surprised to hear there are a plethora of apps available at your finger tips. Many are free and some are not, but all of them are worth looking into, depending on what you're looking for. Check out the apps below for those caring for kids with autism.
1. Autism iHelp
The Autism iHelp (Free) app works as a vocabulary teaching aid developed by a speech-language pathologist and parents of a child with autism. It contains language intervention tools specified for the Autism Spectrum Disorder to focus on strengths or difficulties.
2. A BuZoo Story
A BuZoo Story ($15) can easily be used with or by a speech-language pathologist for kids who face autism and other cognitive, communication, developmental, or physical challenges.
3. First-Then Visual Schedule
The First-Then Visual Schedule ($10) is a great app for caretakers to use to give positive behavioral support. The app is based around the idea of a structured environment using visual schedules to help with independence and reduce anxiety.
4. Autism Tracker Pro
Featured by Physicians Practice Journal, Autism Tracker Pro ($10) is an app that can help families track what's important to their child and family's needs. The app includes a visual calendar and graphs to discuss patterns, share events, and track things like mood, behavior, food sensitivities, and more. If you're hesitant to invest in the app, try Autism Tracker Lite (Free) to get a feel for the app.
5. Learn With Rufus: Emotions
Designed by clinical and developmental psychologist Dr. Holly Gastgeb, Learn With Rufus: Emotions ($5) is a straightforward app with the intent of helping kids with autism learn to differentiate facial expressions and emotions.
6. Emotions And Feelings – Autism
This Emotions and Feelings – Autism ($3) app (alternatively Emotions and Feelings Social Story ($3) on iTunes) includes a social story to go along with deciphering emotions. The content is brief and expressions are based off a cartoon character, which make them more animated and potentially a better fit for younger kids with autism.
7. Toca Boca
The Toca Boca apps take real-life scenarios and let children make up their own stories. The apps provide interaction, realistic characters, and role play while also challenging your child to use life skills, math, and more.
Winner of both the Award for Social Impact and Singularity University Global Grand Challenge for Learning in 2016, :prose ($120) is an intuitive mobile app that lets kids speak with body language instead of visual symbols. You can also connect devices, allowing :prose to speak out loud. The app is said to improve eye contact, attention, engagement, communication, and more.
9. Autism Emotion
Using music and photo slideshow, Autism Emotion (Free) helps children learn about different emotions. The app focuses on four basic emotions: happy, sad, proud, and calm.
10. ABA Flash Cards & Games - Emotions
ABA Flash Cards & Games ($1) uses actual photos as flash cards to help children learn about a wide range of emotions. You can also add your own cards (photos) and voice recordings.
11. Social Skill Builder: My School Day
The full version of Social Skill Builder ($10) offers 19 modules, each of which contain several video sequences of kids interacting and questions for your child to view and react to via multiple choice questions.
Stories2Learn ($14) is an app that promotes social messages to children with autism. The app gives caretakers the option to make personalized stories using photos, text, and audio. The stories can be used to assist with literacy, leisure, and social skills.
An awarded-winning symbol-based communication app, proloquo2Go ($250), offers a voice to kids who can't speak. The app also helps to grow language development and communication skills, along with the ability to personalize vocabulary and settings.
14. Touch And Learn Emotions
Touch and Learn Emotions ($2) is a fun and customizable way for kids with autism to learn about emotions and body language. The app works to help kids read body cues and understand emotions by looking realistic photos.
15. Manners Social Stories
This is a simple and straightforward app, much like Emotions And Feelings – Autism, that offers a social story to help children focus on appropriate manners and polite phrases in social situations. Manners Social Stories ($3) offers the extra instruction in learning tips for good manners.
Dreampad (Free) began as a tool for children with tactile and auditory sensitivities. The app works with a pillow embedded with transducers that play relaxing music through vibration to induce relaxation and sleep, especially in children with Autism, ADHD, and anxiety. According to Parenting, a study on kids with autism done by SPD Foundation's Dr. Sarah Schoen showed all 15 participants had improvements in sleep initiation, sleep duration, reduction in night waking, and better daytime behavior.