For many children with autism, technology is a welcome escape from the stresses of everyday life. Unfortunately, finding which apps work best for each child requires a lot of trial and error. While some apps and games can help to calm an overstimulated mind, others can cause too much excitement, resulting in a tantrum or emotional meltdown. Although opponents of screen time may argue that overuse of technology can negatively affect a child’s developing mind, many parents of children with special needs have found the opposite to be true.
In working with technology, children with autism can become more motivated and able to concentrate better, which helps them to learn new skills. In fact, many apps have been developed with the autistic spectrum in mind, providing parents with tools to help teach emotional intelligence and communication skills. Aside from these targeted applications, many mainstream video games have also been shown to benefit autistic children by lowering anxiety levels and promoting social interaction.
When selecting games and apps for children to play, it’s important to keep in mind that every child is different. A game that calms one child may cause panic in another. The following apps and games have shown to be beneficial for some children on the autism spectrum and may work for a child in your life.
The Social Express
This app was specifically designed to help autistic children develop social skills. Through animated story-telling, the app demonstrates different social situations. After watching the animation children are prompted to identify any issues and select a method for dealing with them. The app also offers printable feelings and coping strategy pages that allow children to learn both on and off screen. Although the game is pricier than others, parents with autistic children or children with other social learning challenges praise its ability to improve social skills significantly.
The Monster At The End of This Book
From the creators of Sesame Street, this app is a favorite of parents and children alike. The animated story app aims to help children overcome their fears and promotes basic reading skills. Throughout the story, parents are provided with helpful tips like encourage kids to mimic Grover’s over-the-top movements and gestures as you read along. It’s a fun, interactive tool to help children understand cause-and-effect and get the whole family laughing, together.
Happi Papi Apps
Happi Papi Apps are apps that help children develop educationally. Whether it’s helping kids learn to read with yummy fruit rewards, or making it fun to learn how to spell, the interactive and engaging environment offers a unique way for children to learn elementary skills. Their Happi Reads app has evidence that shows that “children with autism spent more time on reading material when they accessed it through a computer and were less resistant to its use.” The apps are also endorsed by the internationally known Autism Speaks organization.
Of course, not every app or game will be suitable for every child. However, these three apps are a good place to start for parents looking to implement technology as either a learning tool or stress-reliever for their child.
Kali Muir is an ambitious freelance writer with a BA in Communications. She was born in Canada but has since lived in Norway, Denmark, and England. Her work experience is as diverse as her past addresses, including roles in technical communication, corporate communication, marketing, and article writing. She has experience working in varied business sectors: Oil & Gas, Engineering & Technology, Clothing & Equipment Retail, and Creative Writing. Follow Kali’s professional and personal journey at www.kalimuir.com, or connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.