It’s a well-known fact that children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) respond enthusiastically to technology-infused classrooms. But what often stands between these children and effective software for autism is clunky hardware. Although most of us use these navigational tools with relative ease, a keyboard or a mouse could literally mean the difference between a breakthrough and further isolation.
Think about it: Touch is a fundamental human activity. Touch helps us process. It helps us construct our perception of the world and each other. As we attempt to make sense of new things, we often use our hands first. Tools are useful, of course, but they also complicate and defer the intimacy of this activity. Using a keyboard or a mouse means you have to make a connection between the plastic object on the desk and the icon on the screen.
If you are wondering why your software is falling short, you might review our top five list of touch-based apps for kids with autism.
Touch Trainer: This is a simple cause and effect game that plays music and displays various animations whenever a button—which can be programmed to respond to distinct taps—is touched. As the game progresses, the button gradually shrinks making it more challenging for the user. We consider this to be effective software for autism first and foremost because you can’t “fail” or lose the game. Instead, it provides the user with the ability to take ownership of the experience and progress at his/her own pace without becoming discouraged.
Knock Knock Numbers - Joke Telling and Conversations Tool: Studies have shown that children with ASD often have difficulty relating to their peers, interpreting emotional responses or facial expressions, and engaging in cultural conventions. This piece of software for autism teaches children how to interact with one another by teaching them to tell knock-knock jokes. The game also fuses number recognition into the game, making it both intellectually engaging and entertaining.
Calm Counter - Social Story and Anger Management Tool: This app incorporates audio, visual and touch to help children relax when they are angry or anxious. The premise is simple: The app begins with text that says, “I need a break” Once the user touches the screen, the text is vocalized. After this, a red screen with an angry face and the number ten appears. With each screen touch, the color of the screen changes, the face becomes calmer, and the numbers decrease. This is one of several useful apps for kids with autism as it teaches them behavior-management exercises: counting, breathing and taking a break.
Conversation social stories: This piece of software for autism helps the user negotiate four social situations and teaches them to greet and ask someone to play. Additionally, the app helps them figure out what to talk about and how to appropriately wrap up a conversation. Engaging and negotiating conversations can be difficult for children with ASD; this app demystifies social interaction and gives them a sense for the give and take required in conversation.
Compliments Social Story and Speech Tool: This app uses illustrated stories to explain the importance of giving and receiving compliments. The user can either read the story, or skip to the compliments page, which has six buttons with unique compliments from the story. When the correct compliment button is pushed, the corresponding audio clip plays.
Technology is rapidly changing—Marygrove College wants to help you stay current. If you are interested in successfully integrating educational technology into your school or classroom, learn more about Marygrove College’s instructional technology degree. Our program will help you earn a Master of Education in Educational Technology--and it is completely online.
You might also be interested to know that Marygrove has reduced tuition by 19% for the upcoming academic year (2012-2013)!