Editor's Note: April is National Autism Month. So, this month, the Cary-based National Autism Network is sharing information here on Go Ask Mom. Last week, the network shared top apps for kids with autism. Today, they consider apps for teens and adults with autism.
The limited amount of apps designed for adolescents through adults on the spectrum is a strong indicator that this population is often overlooked. From this limited supply of apps designed for teenagers and adults, we have listed below some that are highly rated by users and apps that are proficient, but have yet to earn enough reviews to warrant a rating one way or another. These apps are designed to help increase sociability, independence, and overall life skills in day-to-day situations.
- Conversation Builder Teen ($19.99/iOS): This multiple award-winning app is the teenage version of the original Conversation Builder and is designed to help teenagers learn the art of conversation. Using this app, they will develop the skills necessary to have multi-exchange conversation with peers in a number of social settings. The app features 300 distinct conversations; over 4,000 audio clips; conversation themes including school, sports, entertainment, etc.; and visual interface to learn the pattern of conversation, group and one-on-one conversation settings, and more. This particular app includes features which focus on the types of language individuals on the spectrum might not understand, such as sarcasm, and the app allows you to save and email conversations for future playback and practice. ★★★★★
- Visual Schedule Planner ($14.99/iOS): This innovative scheduling tool allows the user to create a visual schedule using age-appropriate pictures and a customizable calendar. Plan a day, week, or month utilizing custom images and sounds to set reminders and to ease transitions. The app also allows for the creation of activity schedules, which provide the user with a step-by-step process for any routine, such as taking a shower or making a sandwich. Users are also able to link events in their calendar to video modeling, which provides the user a real-time video of the task at hand so they are able to mirror the task until completion. Other features of this app include note-taking, password protection, iCloud backup, and printable schedules for the workplace or to assist a user around the house. ★★★★☆
- Hidden Curriculum for Adolescents and Adults ($1.99/iOS): This app was developed by the AAPC , which specializes in publishing books and multi-media on autism spectrum disorders for parents, professionals, educators, and individuals on the spectrum. This particular app is designed to help the user navigate the “hidden curriculum.” The hidden curriculum refers to unspoken social rules and guidelines that most individuals learn naturally, but often have to be taught to individuals with autism. Items covered through this app include social relationships, community, money matters, the workplace, and others. ★★★★☆
- Sōsh ($39.99/iOS): The Sōsh app was developed based on the principle of the 5 R’s, which are Relate (connect with others), Relax (reduce stress), Regulate (manage behaviors), Reason (think it through), and Recognize (understand feelings). Developed by psychologists, the mobile application houses critical elements that teenage individuals and adults require to improve their social skills. Specifically, the app features over 60 screens pertaining to exercises, strategies, and practical information to work through social situations in a step-by-step manner. The app also contains a journal, a goals area, a to-do list, and a rating scale to rate anything from your school day to an interaction with a peer. Finally, the app contains an expressions gallery to help the user recognize emotions in real-time and also features a “Shredder” which allows the user to type their troubles into the dialogue box and drag it to the shredder so they can literally watch their troubles ripped to shreds. ★★★★☆
- Dollars & Cents iPad App ($39.99/iOS): Created by Attainment Company, this app is a simple and helpful way to learn basic money skills. Users learn about counting coins, making change, and spending money. The user is asked to complete simple tasks such as identifying various coins and the tasks gradually increase in difficulty. The more challenging features of the app ask the user to make correct change using the setting of a vending machine or a demo grocery store. Finally, users are given a quiz to test their monetary knowledge in which they are asked to make correct change for various items at a virtual cashier. This app has not received enough reviews to warrant a rating.
- iCreate... ($4.99/iOS): This series of apps are developed by “I Get It, LLC” and allows the user to totally customize sequential steps of a storyline for individuals that need understanding certain situations. Social stories can be developed for nearly all situations, such as going to the movies or picking up groceries. This helpful series includes apps titled that help the user “get,” or understand, scheduling, cooking, organization, understanding of holidays, and more. The apps that are rated from “I Get…” are typically above average.
- Visual Routine ($4.99/iOS): This app is simple to use and allows the user the ability to fully customize their visual routine using their own audio, text, and images. Instead of relying on laminated schedules plastered to every wall, a user can store an unlimited amount of routines that are comprised of an unlimited amount of steps. Up to four choices can be embedded within each routine step, which helps an individual run through their options for what to watch on television or what to have for lunch, for example. The app also provides auditory feedback for when a step is completed. This app has not received enough views to warrant a rating.
- iLearnNEarn2 School and Adult Series ($99.99/iOS): This critically acclaimed special needs education program app features an integrated curriculum that facilitates skill acquisition for adults with autism. The curriculum features domains such as self-care, domestic, vocational, and recreation and leisure. The ABA-based app covers about 200 skills at Primary, Intermediate, and Secondary levels. Developed by WebTeam Corporation, the app is based on the Eden Autism Services’ Adults curriculum. Eden Autism Services has nearly 40 years of clinical experience educating individuals with autism. This app has not received enough views to warrant a rating.
- MoodKit -- Mood Improvement Tools ($4.99/iOS): While this app isn’t specifically designed for individuals on the spectrum, it can serve as a helpful tool for improving one’s mood. This highly acclaimed app is designed to help the user manage stress, depression, anxiety, and other discouraging moods. Users are able to chart and monitor their progress and the app helps to promote self-awareness and healthy attitudes. The app features over 200 mood improvement activities, tailored activities recommended to your needs, social media sharing capabilities, guidance to modify distressing thoughts, ability to add your own activities and journal templates, and more. The app also features Mood Tracker, which helps the user to manage negative feelings related to a specific situation by identifying and modifying the thoughts that contribute to those feelings. ★★★★★
- MyTalk Tools ($99.99/iOS): This conversation tool is designed for individuals who have difficulty with communication. The app provides full augmentative, alternative communications (AAC) capability and makes it easy to customize how the user communicates through a variety of images, pictures, symbols, video, and audio files. The app has too many features to list, but some of the more impressive ones include no internet necessary to communicate, wireless sync, mobile authoring mode, which allows the user to create instant customized content, basic text to speech, including one adult female voice, and an image search library. Furthermore, the app is available in a number of languages including English, Danish, Hebrew, French, Italian, and Spanish. ★★★★☆
Have you had any successes or struggles with the apps above? Feel free to comment about other apps that have increased sociability, independence, and overall day-to-day life for you, an adolescent or adult loved one on the spectrum.