Technology has improved nearly every aspect of modern life. One of the areas that it has had the biggest impact on is people’s health—especially the health and well being of children with autism. Today 1 in 68 children in America are born with autism (CDC). Many children with autism have difficulty communicating with others. Fortunately, there are a number of apps that offer assistance with communication.
This post will explore three of the most useful apps. Each of the below apps belongs in a category called Visual Scene Displays—a set of apps that provide context for different social situations.
Scene Speak is an app that gives parents and children the ability to create a digital library to store photos and words. Children can tap on the image of an object to hear the word associated with it. They can also see the spelling of the world. In order to make the app function as best as it can, parents should be prepared to take some time to properly set it up. Reading the entire 32-page tutorial will most likely be necessary.
TouchChat HD is another useful app. It displays a number of buttons that produce a verbal message when pressed. For example, a picture of food represents being hungry. When your child is hungry she can press the hungry button. The app contains 10,000 different symbols that you can assign to buttons, and you can also upload your own images. If your child is able to type, she can also use the app’s keyboard. You can even set the keyboard up so that it predicts words.
Look2Learn is a communicative tool that’s similar to TouchChat HD; however, it’s not as robust or expensive. The app displays pictures that children can use to communicate their wants and needs to others. One of the best features of the app is the ability to record your own voice and associate it with photos. Look2Learn’s website features an assessment that you can download that will help you with the setup.
The above apps are just three of the numerous tools available to help children with autism. If you want to explore some of the other apps that exist, visit Autism Speaks. The organization has an entire section of their site devoted to apps: https://www.autismspeaks.org/autism-apps. Technology that helps with communication will make it easier for children with autism to excel in the classroom and in every aspect of life. As researchers learn more about autism, technology will evolve to reflect their greater understanding, and the available tools will become even more useful.