Apps for Autism Awareness Month

This month, new statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that one in every 88 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder. As we search for answers, we must also search for tools to help our autistic children live a productive life as a part of society, with the skills they need to be independent. The iPad has brought us many apps that are enabling our non-verbal population to communicate. Other apps are helping students with answering “wh” questions, abstract problem solving, picture vocabulary and, most importantly, social skills. The iPad is not a cure, but it is a valuable compensatory tool to help students learn to be independent.

Life Skills Winner Free for the iPhone, iPod Touch and the iPad- Here is an app that allows you to customize Life Skill categories, from grooming to social skills. It is still at the beginning stages but potentially this app will meet the needs of students who need to be encouraged to take care of themselves independently. 15 free apps for the month of April for Autism Awareness. Apps include Sight Words, Flash Card, Problem Solving and Receptive Identification.

Scene-Speak $9.99- The app comes with rooms in a house, doctor’s office, and park and pictures of a girl, boy, man, or woman. Users select text or word boxes where they can record or use a preprogrammed voice. For example, a child would tap the sink area and record “this is where I brush my teeth two times a day.” After creating scenes, make them into books for future use.

VolaFriends HD - $1.99 Nothing is better than using real human faces for children to relate to. The facial expressions (happy, sad, angry, surprised and scared) include nine faces that can be reshuffled when users shake the iPad. The emotion is verbalized and the child can see the emotion. Easy to use and makes the point!

Faces iMake Lite Free- Faces iMake Premium $1.99 Not just for children with autism, but also for children to increase the creative right side of the brain! Faces iMake was developed with renowned artist, children’s book author and educator Hanoch Piven and is based on the creative workshops he's conducted all around the world. Users choose from around 150 everyday objects and put them on top of 20 head shapes bases to create a face, which can be shared to Facebook, emailed, assigned to contacts, or save to iPhone gallery.

Vicki Windman is a special education teacher at Clarkstown High School South.