Smartphones and touchscreen tablets are invaluable tools for children and adults with autism. As interactive technology develops, educators and parents are changing how they teach their children about communication and daily skills. The app market is saturated with special education apps targeting all kinds of disabilities, making finding an appropriate tool for your child can seem overwhelming. For Android users, here is a list of our favorite autism apps.
LetMeTalk: Free AAC Talker. Free
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is one of the main interventions for nonverbal children with autism. Designed with this approach in mind, LetMeTalk contains over 9000 easy-to-understand images and allows you to drag, sort, and line them up in meaningful ways. One great feature is that you can add your own photos to the app’s image database, allowing your child to customize communication. Each image has voice support, and the app enables you to save your vocabulary. It works without an internet connection, so children can use it in nearly any situation.
Special Words: Autism & Down Syndrome Education. $19.99
Special Words strengthens communication, language, and literacy skills through its adaptable platform. The app’s setup seems simple, incorporating easy-to-understand flashcards with audio accompaniment, but it is the adaptability that makes this a unique user-friendly option. Users can choose from a selection of fonts and text sizes, create their own flashcards to cater to their personalized interests, incorporate their own voice and audio, and even change the animation speed. The only catch is that the app comes at a cost ($19.99). Although this does guarantee an ad-free experience, the price point is easily a deal-breaker for some.
Dexteria was designed to improve fine motor skills in people with limited movement, such as those who have suffered a stroke. However, the app’s therapeutic exercises, designed in consultation with occupational therapists, are a useful addition to your child’s app library. Because the app uses a multi-touch interface, users can quickly build control and dexterity. The exercises are short, which works well for equally-short attention spans, and are easy-to-navigate. The negative? The app costs $9.99, which will be well worth the expense for those with special motor needs. For others, the price will likely give them pause.
Autism Learning Games: Camp Discovery Pro. Free
Designed by ABA experts, the Camp Discovery Pro app features different “worlds” with a suite of lessons throughout on topics like counting, shapes, letters, numbers, and many more. Correct answers are rewarded with a user’s choice of animation, and the lessons are followed by fun mini-games. Notable features include the option to track progress with easy-to-read graphs, settings that can be individualized, prompting procedures that give support. One perk is that the developers are always adding new content, thereby extending the app’s shelf life on your device.
Inspired by his brother, diagnosed at age 2 with autism, Otsimo’s founder Zafer Elcik set out to create an interactive app for people with autism. After testing the special education app waters, Zafer eventually decided to create his own app that would check all the boxes important to him: a safe, fun, effective, and free resource for all. Developed on the foundation of Applied Behavioral Therapy (ABA), one of the hallmark interventions for children with autism, our app offers over 50 games that teach core skills such as words, numbers, colors, and emotions to name a few. Our communication tools employ AAC and speech therapy.
Otsimo is a dynamic app with a unique algorithm that adapts each exercise based on your child’s progress, meaning that gameplay is personalized and unique for each user. Our educational model features several types of play mechanics, so each topic can be taught in a different way depending on your child’s learning style. For parents, the app analyzes your child’s performance data into daily, weekly, and monthly progress charts, and you can even see which games and topics your child has learned correctly and incorrectly.
Otsimo is available for free in the Google Play store. There is a premium version with additional games, in-depth progress reports, cross-platform support, and new activities when you purchase a subscription. Otsimo is completely ad-free, making it one of the few free apps to provide an entirely safe learning experience.