Today I thought I would look for more apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch that are geared directly to those with Autism. Previous searches (such as when I last posted about them), there were only a handful. Today, however, there are tons, and at varying price points.
Those at the higher end of the price scale were assistive communication tools, like iConverse, and Proloquo2go. These at any price below $8,000.00 are, believe it or not, a bargain compared to the other options available with the same functionality. They all try to achieve the same goal: help make communicating for those who are impaired easier. And each one succeeds to some degree, though not all are ideal for an individual Autistic child, depending on their placement on the Spectrum. As a side note, it may be helpful for a free lite version of each of these apps to be made available so parents can test out the mechanics of the app before investing $50.00 to $200.00 on something that their Autistic child is unable or unwilling to use.
Other apps that were listed were First Words apps (which my son loves), and various ABA flashcard apps. Most of these are in the $0.99 category, though others can be more or less depending on the volume of content in the app. These I generally tend to shy away from, as my son is beginning to show aversion to using ABA picture cards for communicating (much to the frustration of his teachers). So today, I thought I would evaluate and write about three apps that I found: AutismTest, AutismXpress, and Learn To Talk.
First is AutismTest. This was one of several Autism screening questionaires I found in iTunes, some for free and some to buy. This particular one was free. The test was developed by researchers at Cambridge University for screening, and is used for online screening. I was rather dubious at first, as Autism is a diagnosis which requires observation from a psychologist, but I thought I would check it out.
The First thing mentioned in the description is that this is NOT a replacement for diagnosis. I want to stress that as well. If you are looking for any services for Autism, or need to focus on a specific learning plan through your school, you need a proper diagnosis from a certified psychologist. No one will take this score seriously when looking for real treatment. But, that being said, there has been come correlation between the assessment and an actual diagnosis, so it would be a good place to start if you are wondering if you should consider getting your child screened.
The test is not very long, and focuses primarily on attention, social ability, and reaction to order versus chaos. I found it to be well thought out, very well structured, and according to the test, I have autistic tendencies (I'm very much an introvert). These are much the same traits looked for when screening for Autism, so I thought it would be something worth mentioning. But let me emphasize again, THIS IS NOT A DIAGNOSIS! If you are concerned that your child may be Autistic, take them into a psychologist for a screening.
The app was written by an Autistic parent of an Autistic child as a method of helping people understand what Autism is. In that way, I would say they have succeeded. For that reason, I would say that it's a good app to have for the family with an Autistic child.
One thing that is quite common with Autistic children is the lack of emotional and social understanding. For instance, they can't tell if you are joking, being sarcastic, angry, or sad. It just doesn't register. AutismXpress was created to help them recognize these emotional states.
The app is essentially a flash card type app, but the faces move. It's not too stable though, it crashed my iPod Touch twice in 10 minutes, requiring me to reboot the thing. But other than that, it was fabulous. I'm looking forward to showing this one to my son.
The app was created for Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect), which is the largest Autism support organization for Australia. The work they have done here is phenomenal, and I look forward to a more stable version. And it's also for free.
Learn To Talk (Lite)
Learn to Talk is a flash card app as well, with artwork that is very much like the old "Dick and Jane" stories (ink and watercolor). Essentially the card repeats the word, and then you can click on it for the word again, or slide on to another word. This was priced really high in previous versions, but the price has down for the pay version to $1.99. The free version is what I tried, and it seemed pretty good. I'm not sure how my son will take to it though, as he doesn't repeat very easily, but others have mentioned how helpful it is for their children in speech therapy.
So, those are the apps I tried. I'm really looking forward to what the iPad will bring with it's expanded real estate on the screen and additional tools available.