If your child is anything like my child, and on the autism spectrum, we know how connected they are to their computers, iPads, and phones. These days most children seem to spend much of their free time on these devices and even the school systems are handing out iPads to their students to use during the school day. We live in a techy world. Since our kids will be on their devices for some part of the day, here are my top five picks for ASD-friendly Apps. But be warned, these are not solely for entertainment. They are cleverly disguised as fun but can also teach your child a thing or two. Best not to let your child know that, though.
The Autism Therapy App comes physician-recommended. It is primarily used for language development and focuses on mental image therapy (MIT). The App is made up of bright puzzles to help your child learn to respond to multiple visual cues. Because many ASD children tend to focus on one thing, this App can be helpful in easing them out of that tunnel vision and help overall learning. The App is simple to use and sets up according to your child’s age and diagnosis. As your child plays through the games, the difficulty increases. The games are bright and completely interactive and your child is rewarded with an extra game after completing a level. Here’s the great news: It’s free on iTunes and Google Play.
If you are looking for an option for younger ASD children, this one is for you. It is set up with several different formats to teach vocabulary to those children having difficulty learning both typical and expressive language. It was developed by parents of autistic children as well as a speech pathologist. This App is filled with colorful photos rather than drawn pictures, creating a better enticement for ASD kids. There are labels that can be turned off if they become a distraction. One of the best features is the game play. There are several games involving matching words to pictures or appropriate words to a picture in a field of four choices. There is also a voice option for auditory learners. You can track your child’s performance when left alone with the game. This App is also free on iTunes.
3 | Toca Life
Toca Boca is a company that has designed a bundle of ASD- and kid-friendly Apps. The best ASD-friendly of these is Toca Life. This is an interactive game that takes place in your own town. Your child can explore the different buildings, go on an adventure or even cook dinner in the restaurant. Each building is named and there are surprises around every corner. This App is great in teaching things like how to buy groceries, what happens on a camping trip, or how to make a meal. Though it is all virtual, of course, playing the game can open topics to talk about and may lead you to a real grocery store visit or a real-life cooking challenge. There are also friends within the game that your child can interact with, giving a social piece to the experience. It’s really a great App for young and old. On its own, Toca Life sells for $2.99 on iTunes. There is also a Toca City App that is free if you want to try it out first!
As a part of the Autism Learning Games, Camp Discovery is a great learning tool for kids on the spectrum and it’s fun! The App is designed for a personal learning experience and begins with a profile setup. It is full of lessons designed by an Applied Behavior Analyst that incorporate high-level graphics to teach emotions, actions, body parts, money, opposites and much more. Once a lesson is complete, your child can choose a mini game to play as a reward. There is also an easy-to-read graphic for tracking progress. Once the App is downloaded, your child can follow an interactive map to select a location in which to work. This App is available on iTunes for free.
This is one of the best Apps I’ve seen for teaching social curriculum and it’s great for older as well as elementary school-age children. This App teaches kids how to think about and manage social situations through interactive story telling. Your will child actually help other children navigate social situations in a full animated story. Your child will learn how to better identify feelings, how to better read non-verbal social cues, and how to be a part of a group. The lessons are real and the graphics are great at keeping your child engaged. The App is really set up for visual modeling in social situations. On the up side, it’s a complete social modeling tool that is sure to keep your ASD child interested. On the down side, it is a little pricey at either a monthly payment of $14.00 to a year subscription of $69.99. Available on iTunes.
Whether on the go or at home, these ASD-friendly Apps are not only fun games but also great learning tools. In those times set aside for our techy devices, these Apps can be used to reinforce therapies while creating entertainment via iPad, computer or phone.