Autism Apps: Tech Showing the Way

Most of us use apps on a daily basis. A majority of the smartphones, tabs, and other handheld devices run apps that allow us to catch up on the news, connect to the social media, and help us play games.

A leading California-based computer and technology company recently organized a “hackathon” for autism in their campus. More than 100 software engineers of the company and advocates for autism came together to develop touch screen apps for children with autism. The team members, working with autistic children, began developing apps to help them overcome challenges. Some of the apps include verbal and speech learning, games, and communication assistants. These new apps would be soon released free on the internet and will encourage children to learn according to their individual interests, develop communication skills, and forge a social relation with other children who have a common interest in technology.

These apps for children with autism have the potential to greatly improve social and communication skills. In a study about an autistic child, scientists used video inputs and FM audio trainers to see whether the two skills improved by using these devices. After a few weeks of research, the child showed substantially increased attention to auditory and visual cues. The new apps for children with autism being developed by the tech company, will use these cues to help develop behavioral and communication skills.

Most children today know how to use a tab or smartphone. They use it largely for playing games. The innovations at the “hackathon” will draw on the ease of using a touch screen for autistic children and allow them download apps that are both educational and fun.

A study of the new technology of smartphones addresses the old method of picture exchange communication system (PECS), and compares that to updated communication systems running on apps. Laminated cards were used in PECS to teach and improve social and communication skills. New technology allows digitization of these cards on a touch screen. Educators, children, and parents find it much easier using the new PECS.

Motivation to use apps for children with autism increases with the use of smartphones, computer, or other touch screen devices. Technology is becoming a more important way to provide fun and easy ways for autistic children to socialize and communicate. Many schools have already introduced apps in their curriculum.

Technology is engrained in our lives, starting at a young age. The advent of the touch screen will help children with autism learn important life skills. Everything from communication, social relationships, independence, to auditory and visual learning can be improved with these apps.

A heartwarming story about how apps for children with autism can change a child’s life, is the case of Jordan, a young boy suffering from the disorder. Jordan could never communicate verbally when he was young. But technology has changed his life. His touching poem “Silent No More” describes his journey from a boy who couldn’t communicate, to someone who now has immense potential in the communication technology domain.