Best Apps For Autistic Child

Best autism apps by the Autism Parenting Magazine - BETA Project

It’s never easy being a parent. But it can be even harder when you’re trying to find the right app for your autistic child.

Thankfully, we’ve done the hard work for you. We’ve found some of the best apps for autistic children and their parents, so you can rest assured that your kid will be getting the most help possible from technology.

We’ve also included some tips on how to use these apps with your child, so you can maximize their effectiveness.

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Apps and Software
13 apps that support and empower the autistic community
“Smartphones have opened a door to a whole new world for our community.”
By Katie Dupere on April 2, 2016
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13 apps that support and empower the autistic community
Credit: YouTube/AssistiveWAre

Tech > Apps and Software
Whether it’s a notes app to remember your grocery list or a game to feel less frustrated during delays in your commute, you probably use apps on a regular basis.

But you probably don’t think of it as anything special — just normal tech. Yet that ability to fill a need with a simple download on an already accessible device has held particular, and sometimes life-changing, importance to the autistic community.

SEE ALSO: Apple’s new short film starring autistic teen shows how tech transforms lives
People on the autism spectrum have begun to use apps as tools to turn their phones and tablets into assistive tech, catered to their needs. Simple, common devices we all have in our homes and pockets can suddenly become pieces of technology that enable communication, enhance social skills and radically improve learning, both in and out of the classroom, for autistic people.

“Smartphones have opened a door to a whole new world for our community.”

Julia Bascom, executive director of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, tells Mashable that the “explosion of apps” over the past few years has been remarkable, giving autistic people more ways to express themselves and more ways to connect.

“You hear from a lot of thinkpieces that smartphones are destroying the youth of today,” Bascom says. “But, from our perspective, smartphones have opened a door to a whole new world for our community.”

Not only are apps and new forms of tech helping to streamline and enhance communication, but they are also helping to lessen the stigma that sometimes follows assistive tech. Bascom says a lot of kids would be reluctant to use assistive tech in the past. Big, bulky devices that enabled communication, but were very obvious pieces of assistive tech, would instantly set autistic people apart from their peers.

“What we see now is that if a kid is using a tablet in class, that’s kind of cool,” she says. “And we’re seeing a child may feel more relaxed about using that then they would a dedicated device.”

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But not all apps are valued by the community they are trying to serve — especially those created without input from autistic people themselves. Both Bascom and David Niemeijer, founder and CEO of AssistiveWare, are critical of many “behavior apps,” or apps that look to regulate the emotions of autistic people in ways that serve other people’s comfort more than the person themselves.

“It’s often a lot about controlling someone’s behavior, when we feel like giving someone access to communication skills helps give them other ways of expressing themselves,” Niemeijer says of AssistiveWare’s philosophy.

Nevertheless, apps that do the work responsibly are having a tangible and impressive impact. From apps that speak for those who can’t to apps that make stressful situations a little less scary, check out these 13 well-known apps aiding some members of the autistic community — and those with similar needs.

  1. Proloquo4Text
    Proloquo4Text is a text-based communication app created by AssistiveWare that turns typed words into speech. The app, which is especially useful for nonverbal individuals, has a single-screen layout, making it easy for users to customize the main screen to their individual needs.

The app is available in 15 different languages, featuring word and sentence prediction for fast on-the-spot communication. Users can also choose their own voice, giving them autonomy over not only what they say, but how they say it.

Available on iOS for $119.99 ($59.99 through April 4 for Autism Acceptance Day).

  1. Assistive Express
    A more simplified text-based communication app, Assistive Express allows users to express their thoughts via text-to-speech technology. The app features word prediction to speed up response time, and has the ability to save commonly used phrases for easy accessibility. Assistive Express is available in English, German, Italian and Spanish.

Available on iOS for $24.99.

  1. Proloquo2Go
    Proloquo2Go is an English and Spanish, symbol-supported communication app created by AssistiveWare for individuals who have difficulty speaking.

With three different vocabulary levels and customizable visual grids, the app can be customized to best fit the needs of individual users. Through the use of text-to-speech technology, users can select from more than 7,000 predetermined words housed on categorized visual grids to get their message across quickly and simply. Users can also customize the grid to add words they often use, like the names of family members or regional locations.

Available on iOS for $249.99 ($124.99 through April 4 for Autism Acceptance Day).

  1. Keeble
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    Credit: ITunes
    Keeble is an accessible keyboard created by AssistiveWare that replaces a standard on-screen keyboard in any app with a more user-friendly keyboard for those who have fine-motor challenges. With several customizable keyboards, users can choose the keyboard that is best for their specific needs. Word prediction and keyboard layouts are available in English, Spanish, French and Dutch.

Available on iOS for $19.99.

  1. Avaz FreeSpeech
    Avaz FreeSpeech allows users to drag and rearrange picture tiles from a visual grid into sentences. The picture-language app then converts the tiles into speech. The app also assists users with language skills through a series of training modules, supporting users who need a little help to create grammatically correct and complete sentences.

Available on iOS for $9.99.

  1. Children With Autism: A Visual Schedule
    Mashable Image
    Credit: ITunes
    Designed with the autistic community in mind, this picture-based scheduler allows users to keep track of scheduled activities. The scheduler helps users anticipate and plan for changes in their daily routine, helping to make days predictable. It also has the ability of providing step-by-step instructions to daily activities to empower users with more independence.

Available on iOS for $12.99.

  1. Choiceworks
    Mashable Image
    Credit: ITunes
    Choiceworks helps users manage their daily routines through a scheduler that categorizes tasks in sequential order, while also indicating which tasks have been completed and which still have to be done. The app also supports users through sometimes frustrating and overwhelming situations.

Choiceworks is especially useful in situations when users must wait for something, giving them options to fill in wait time.

Available on iOS for $6.99.

  1. Miracle Modus
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    Credit: ITunes
    In a world that can often get overwhelming, many of us could use a little help getting back into a calm state. Miracle Modus looks to solve some of that problem, using lights, sounds and colors is different patterns and configurations to help users find calm in emotionally overwhelming situations.

Available for free download on iOS and Android.

  1. FlummoxVision
    Mashable Image
    Credit: ITunes
    Flummox and Friends is a quirky, live-action comedy of a group of scientists working to understand “the most perplexing scientific mystery of all: other people.” Through the app, children can watch episodes and interact with the characters via “Discuss Mode” to help support the development of social and emotional skills.

Available for free download on iOS, at $1.99 per episode.

  1. Injini: Child Development Game Suite
    Mashable Image
    Credit: ITunes
    Injini is a collection of learning games that supports children with cognitive, language and fine-motor delays. The games, created with autistic children in mind, help users develop fine motor and language skills, understand cause and effect, recognize spatial awareness, and work on memory and visual processing.

All the games in the collection operate on with a “no penalty” model, meaning answers that are incorrect aren’t penalized in gameplay to help encourage children to try again when needed.

Available on iOS for $29.99.

  1. Pictello
    Mashable Image
    Credit: ITunes
    Pictello, a creative app created by AssistiveWare, allows users to create personal photo albums and a picture book, and each page is enhanced with audio so users can record themselves.

The app is particularly useful when preparing autistic individuals for unfamiliar or stressful situations, like doctor’s appointments or visits to unfamiliar places.

Available for iOS for $19.99.

  1. Emergency Chat
    Mashable Image
    Credit: ITunes
    Emergency Chat is an app created for emergency situations in which communication is essential, but speech isn’t an option.

The main screen has preset splash text that explains a person cannot use speech, but wants to use the app to communicate. The following screen has a simple chat function that allows two people to communicate back and forth.

Creators of the app say it was developed especially for users who are experiencing an “autistic meltdown, where their speech centers stay non-functional for a while even after they’ve recovered.”

Available for free download on iOS and Android.

  1. Autism Apps
    Mashable Image
    Credit: ITunes
    This simple app, created by Touch Autism, is a comprehensive list of apps being used by people on the autism spectrum. The apps are categorized and reviewed, with extensive information available on each, making it easy for users to find exactly what they need.

Available for free download on iOS.

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