Apps for Autism

by guest blogger Vicki Windman

As a special education teacher working with autistic kids, I have spent many hours trying to find iPad apps that would enhance verbal skills, pragmatics, and how to answer the ”wh” questions. I am happy to say that I have found apps that have been extremely successful. The key to finding the appropriate app is reading reviews and then testing them with your students.

Augmentive Communication apps- designed for individuals with autism and many other disabilities that need speech assistance.

Proloquo2go is the app we use in our school. It is easy to customize, user- friendly, and has great visuals. The voices are smooth and not robotic. Can be used on the iPad and iPod. – $189.00

Onevoice has a nice format, using real pictures rather than “Boardmaker” pictures. It has an easy-to-use layout with the ability to customize. This is especially nice for younger children. - $199.00

TouchChatHD-AAC has three versions: lite, $9.99, Touch Chat HD-ACC, $149.00 and Touchchat HD with AAC word Power, $299.00. If you want to test Touchchat, try the $9.99 version to see which version is appropriate for your student. The difference between Touchchat HD and Touchchat with word power is it is bundled with a word-based vocabulary called WordPower. This feature incorporates phrases for easier language generation.

AssistiveChat is a word prediction app for individuals who can use a keyboard and can identify functional words. The app gives you four choices when typing. The app has 3 voices to choose from. The font can be made larger for visually impaired individuals. It also has adjustable speed and volume controls. Only $24.99.

Verbally is a free app for the iPad only. It is a word prediction app that gives you a word grid with words and phrases. Choose female or a male voice.

Social Skills apps help enhance pragmatic language (how language is used, from greeting people to following rules such as taking turns).

Pictello is a storytelling app for all ages. Import pictures from a camera roll or from the Internet. It allows you up to five lines of speech that can either be recorded or text to speech. The goal of this app is to create social stories, talking books, visual schedules, or tasks and directions. - $14.99

Stories2Learn offers the ability to create individual social stories for those working on specific concepts and teaching social messages. - $14.99

In Story Builder the goal is to build higher-level abstractions by inference. Offers three levels of play. Answers are recorded and stitched together so individual can hear their answers. In my classroom, we take turns answering the questions, reinforcing the concept of taking turns. $3.99

More apps with a similar focus on creating conversation:
Conversation Builder - $5.99

Question Builder- $3.99

Discrete Trial Training is a teaching technique that incorporates the principles of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), some of which include positive reinforcement, reinforcement schedules, shaping, prompting, differential reinforcement, etc.

Dr. Gary Brown has four good DTT apps: Colors, Letters, Numbers and Shapes.

Autism/DTT Shapes is a good app to start with, as it is only $3.99. The others are $4.99- $9.99. It is available in four different languages. The app is very simple with no distraction stimuli.

See.Touch.Learn gives users the ability to build custom picture cards and track the individual’s response. It allows teachers and therapists to save, copy and reuse custom plans. It has speech for those individuals who cannot read the prompts. - $2.99

Behavioral Apps to Praise

iReward is a "motivation app" to help individuals with behavioral issues. Select the behavior you are trying to reinforce, choose the reward and then choose the number of times the behavior needs to be completed before the reward is earned. - $4.99

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