Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Finding Good Apps for Children With Autism

November 29, 2011, 11:47 am

Finding Good Apps for Children With Autism

Leo Rosa, son of Shannon Des Roches Rosa, of Redwood City, Calif., plays with Spot the Dot, an educational app for the iPad that has been shown to work well with children who have autism.Shannon Des Roches RosaLeo Rosa, son of Shannon Des Roches Rosa, of Redwood City, Calif., plays with Spot the Dot, an educational app for the iPad.
The Apple iPad has been hailed as a savior for assisting children with autism spectrum disorder or other special needs. It was portrayed as a minor miracle in a recent segment on “60 Minutes” and has been found to help even the very young quickly learn.
Anecdotally, teachers, parents and therapists describe the profound difference that apps for Apple and Android products have made in helping autistic children develop skills. IPad programs have provided a means of communicating for some children with autism who cannot speak or have language delays. Other apps help children learn to handle social situations that can be stressful, like crowds at malls. And many programs can help develop fine-motor skills, which promote functions like writing or manipulating small objects.
Sami Rahman of Houston said that his son, Noah, 3, who has cerebral palsy, was woefully behind in fine-motor skills, speech and cognitive skills before he began therapies and intervention programs. But in four months, the apps he used — along with sessions with therapists and teachers — have put him ahead of the curve in all these areas, Mr. Rahman said.
The iPad “has lowered the cognitive base you have to have to interface with a computer,” Mr. Rahman said. “You touch it, and something happens.”
But as is the case with so many categories of apps, it’s daunting to know where to begin when sorting through the thousands of programs available. “There are so many apps, and not all of them are great,” said Shannon Des Roches Rosa of Redwood City, Calif., whose son, Leo, 11, has autism.
To that end, several good Web sites have been created to review special-needs apps. Most of these sites are not driven by advertising nor do they receive referral fees for recommending apps:

iPad Apps for Autism A Google docs site maintained by Ms. Rosa that grew out of a project she did for the Hollyrod Foundation. The apps she has reviewed and recommended are classified into categories like art, language and music. Jordan Sadler, a professional speech therapist in Chicago, and Corina Becker, an adult with autism, are among the main reviewers. Among the developers she recommends are Injini, Toca Boca, Duck Duck Moose and Oceanhouse Media. “Specific companies produce great apps,” Ms. Rosa said.
Other sites she recommends for app listings include Technology in (Spl) Education, which includes a list of free and discounted apps, and Speech-Language Pathology Sharing for language development.

SNapps4kids.com The site, a program of the Easter Seals, lists more than 700 apps but includes about 60 that have been professionally reviewed. The reviews are all done by a special education teacher or certified therapist, many of whom are a part of the Easter Seals network. Mr. Rahman and Cristen Reat, who has a son with Down syndrome, co-founded the site to help identify useful apps. The reviews and categories are organized based on skills learned rather than what disability or diagnosis is targeted. “It’s really for all ages,” said Ms. Reat. “We know stroke victims and people with Alzheimer’s who are using our Web site.”

a4cwsn.com This site, which stands for Apps for Children With Special Needs, features 500 video reviews done by Gary James of Oxford, Conn., who has a son with autism and a daughter with epilepsy. He says he has reviewed some 5,000 apps, but only lists reviews of apps that he believes do what they promise. If an app passes that test and is listed, developers can pay to be on the home page of his site. But that revenue does not cover all the costs of operating the site, he said.

iAutism.info This database contains over 400 apps for iPad/iPhone and nearly 70 for Android. The site was started by Francesc Sistach and his wife, Susana Vila, who live in Spain. Iv├ín Soriano, another parent of a child with autism, is also a main reviewer. Mr. Sistach says the app he finds most interesting is See.Touch.Learn, an app based on Applied Behavior Analysis, a common early intervention therapy for autistic children. “This app can complement expensive one-to-one sessions with a therapist with self-learning sessions using a tablet,” he said.
The site also includes Spanish and other foreign language apps. “Many U.S. developers are forgetting that there are many, many users in other countries, and they only publish their apps in English.” Mr. Sistach said. “ We encourage all developers to translate their apps to other languages, and we are even helping some of them in this process.”

Saturday, November 26, 2011

This is a GREAT app

Model Me Going Places™
Model Me Going Places™ is a great visual teaching tool for helping your child learn to navigate challenging locations in the community. Each location contains a photo slide show of children modeling appropriate behavior. 6 locations: Hairdresser, Mall, Doctor, Playground, Grocery Store, and Restaurant.

Check it out!!!

New apps part of kids' with autism therapy

In treating patient after patient with autism, Mark Bowers found himself frustrated with how they struggled to apply the strategies and skills they learned in his office to real-life situations.
"He would come home for dinner and say, 'I wish there was some kind of way for me to be with kids at school,' " said Bowers' wife, Kelly Bowers. "It would be kind of like having a psychologist in their pocket."
So Bowers, who grew up in Webster Groves and works as a pediatric psychologist in Ann Arbor, Mich., developed the Sosh app to improve social skills for those with Asperger's syndrome. Sosh joins an exploding list of apps to help those with Autism Spectrum Disorders — developmental brain disorders that result in mild to severe problems communicating.
More parents are turning to apps to improve their children's skills because of the technology's ability to captivate, individualize and offer immediate feedback in ways other therapies can't. The ease and portability of the iPad, released a year and a half ago, is also fueling the growing use.
"It's huge, and it's only going to get bigger. It's absolutely crazy," said Gary James, who created the Apps for Children with Special Needs — or A4CWSN — website in January to help parents wade through the choices. "Ever since the iPad, the app world has gone absolutely bonkers."
James said his A4CWSN website has already passed 1.2 million views, and its corresponding Facebook page has nearly 7,000 members.
Steve Jobs might not have had children with disabilities in mind when developing the iPad, but the touchscreen 1-pound computer tablet has opened a new world of communication and learning for autistic children.
James created his website after seeing the difference using apps on an iPad made in his autistic son, now 6. Learning went from being a struggle to being fun, James said.
"I saw how my son took to this and I thought, 'Wow, I need to share this with people,' " he said. His site has informational videos on over 500 apps.
James, 43, is also working to provide iPads to families and educators across the world who want to use them to help kids with special needs. He recently raised money to give away 50 iPads; 2,000 U.S. families applied for them. Developers, including Bowers, donated their apps. James has left his home in Connecticut and is now traveling to every state to give one away.
Becky Cannon, 35, of Troy, Mo., will be getting one of the iPads when James travels through Missouri next month. "It wasn't anything I had considered in the past just because of the expense," Cannon said. An iPad costs about $500, and while some apps are free, others can cost as much as $300. She is excited to offer more options for two of her children, ages 2 and 8, with special needs.
"My options and my resources in the community are very limited," she said of living in a rural area. "This puts the masterminds who have created this technology in one setting and just expands how I could help my children."
Hundreds of apps are available to teach everything from fine motor skills to getting dressed. They include games to help promote eye contact, interpret facial expressions and react to social cues. They can even prepare kids for situations like going to a restaurant, getting a haircut or seeing a doctor.
The Sosh app alone provides more than 60 screens of exercises, strategies and information aimed at tweens, teens and young adults with Asperger's. They include a voice meter to keep from talking too loud, a dictionary to define figures of speech and a virtual 'shredder" to get rid of negative feelings.
For those who are nonverbal, apps are helping them communicate through pictures or text for the first time.
Katie Beach of Affton uses more than a dozen apps on an iPad to help her son, Conrad, 5, who was diagnosed with Asperger's a year and a half ago. She said the technology helped him learn letters, colors, shapes, addition and eventually to read.
"The apps are a blessing for Conrad," she said. "He is such a visual person and the apps allow him to gain knowledge and learn other skills, but at his own pace and in a way that is structured for his mind."
Simon Wallace, a director of scientific development at Autism Speaks, the nation's largest advocacy organization, said rapidly advancing technology is creating endless opportunities for support for special-needs families.
"It's really capturing the imagination of our community," Wallace said.
Last week, Autism Speaks, Hewlett Packard and The Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism came together to hold a "Hackathon." Designers and autism experts collected the best ideas from families and therapists to develop five new apps to help people with autism, which will be made available for free.
Jeanne Marshall, chief program officer at TouchPoint Autism Services, which serves over 2,700 people with autism spectrum disorders and their families each year in Missouri, said apps are proving to be effective for kids along the spectrum who thrive with positive reinforcement and a sense of control.
"Apps give kids a level of independence in their learning that traditional teaching does not," Marshall said. "They can often independently guide themselves through a program and get immediate feedback from the device, as opposed to a teacher having to provide continual prompting."
Autistic children also sometimes have intense interests, such as trains or dinosaurs, and apps can be centered around that interest, Marshall said. Apps can often be personalized with recordings of the child's own voice or parents' voices and pictures of items and people in their lives.
Therapists and scientists are seeking to put some research behind the use of apps. TouchPoint has given an iPad to 10 kids in the Cape Girardeau area and will be assessing over the next three to six months how certain apps improve their communication, social skills and academics.
"We will roll it out to another 10 children, trying to give as many kids as possible the opportunity to borrow an iPad to try it out for a period of time, so that the families can determine if it would be a wise purchase," Marshall said.
Wallace at Autism Speaks urged some caution among families. Touchscreen phones and tablets should not further isolate or separate those with autism from others.
"We don't want them to fixate on technology," he said. "We want it be a bridge to better social interaction and communication with those around them."
By:  Michelle Munz

Hewlett-Packard to produce FREE autism apps

Tech Giant To Produce Free Autism Apps

By Text Size A A
Hewlett-Packard is teaming up with a pair of autism organizations to develop apps to help people with the disorder handle everything from scheduling and communication to bullying.
At a “hackathon” scheduled for Oct. 11, the computer giant plans to bring together a slew of volunteer developers tasked with creating apps to address seven core areas of need for people within the autism community.
Some of the apps are expected to be designed for individuals with the disorder to use themselves. These might include apps featuring social stories, help with time management, assistive communication software or a tool to report bullying. Other applications will be designed to help parents and professionals track progress with behavior or other medical concerns.
Ideas for the apps were selected from over 250 suggestions submitted to Autism Speaks and the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism, which partnered with HP on the “Hacking Autism” initiative.
Once complete, the apps will be provided to the public free of charge, according to officials at Autism Speaks.
Organizers said it’s not yet clear what platforms the apps will work on, though they hope to make the software available for smartphone and tablet users.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Top 10 things a parent with a child with autism wishes that you knew.....

This is a MUST read for parents of kids with ASD, it was written by Always Unique Totally Intelligent Sometimes Mysterious, it is beautiful.  It doesn't have anything to do with Autism Apps but it is worth reading, I just wish the "typical" folks would  read it to, maybe we parent of kids with ASD should make flyers LOL.  ENJOY and vist their Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/pages/Always-Unique-Totally-Intelligent-Sometimes-Mysterious/189171657828395?sk=wall 

Top Ten: Things Autistic Children Wish You Knew…About Their Parents
by Always Unique Totally Intelligent Sometimes Mysterious on Tuesday, November 22, 2011 at 1:01am
10. I wish you knew that God chose my parents for me because they are SPECIAL just like ME.
9. I wish you knew that just because our home is sometimes messy, that does not mean they are dirty or lazy. And just because my mom’s roots are showing, my dad is not clean shaved or their clothes do not match today, does not mean that they don’t care about themselves anymore; it just means they are too busy caring for me instead.
8. I wish you knew that because they sometimes wear their heart on their sleeve, does not mean they are weak. In fact, they are the strongest people that I know.
7. I wish you knew that just because they don’t do all the stuff they use to do, like go to family gatherings or hang out with friends very much anymore; it does not mean that they don’t want to. It is because they put my needs a head of their wants. They know that it is just too much for me to handle.
6. I wish you knew that my parents would like for everyone to become more aware of autism. Autism is growing at a rate of 14% a year and 1 in every 110 children are being diagnosed. That means it may not be your kid, but at this fast growing rate, maybe it might be your kid’s child that suffers from this disability.
5. I wish you knew that just because you might not have the same beliefs about how they should be parenting me, how autism is caused, what treatment they use for me and whether they believe autism can be cured or not, does not mean that you cannot listen and at least consider how they feel. You have not walked in their shoes and until you do, you should hold your opinions to yourself.
4. I wish you knew that because I may appear to look just like everyone else, I am not. Sometimes I scream, can’t sit still, invade your space, bite, hit or throw myself to the floor and you may feel that my parents are not holding up to your “standards” of parenting in these situations. It really means that they know more about autism than you do and punishing me for something that I have no control over would be plan cruel and that would be bad parenting.
3. I wish you knew that when I am out in public and suffer a meltdown, your stares, do not hurt me because I don’t even notice. However, those stares and nasty comments do hurt my parents and family. This is a hard time for us and you being rude does not make it any easier. We have a right to be in public without scrutiny, just like everyone else.
2. I wish you knew that just because I may be non-verbal or learn different from everyone else, it can make me an easy target for bullying or even abuse. I want you to know that if you hurt me in this way, you better hope the authorities take care of you before my parents have a chance to get a hold of you.
1. I wish you knew that because I may not show eye contact to my parents, hug them or even tell them that I love them does not mean that I don’t care about them. Like I said above, my parents are SPECIAL and through all of that, deep down they can feel my love, my heart and my soul and know that I love them more than any words could ever say. They are my hero.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Spaceboard App

WOW, I won a Spaceboard App this weekend, I have been trying for a couple of months to win one!! YEAH thank you to Ron @ Smart Apps for Kids for having an open house this weekend!!  Here is the link to the Spaceboard website http://www.space-boards.com/Home_Page.html  and here is the link again to Smart Apps for Kids http://www.smartappsforkids.com/  be sure to tell them that Apps for Autism sent you!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011


This organization is absolutely FABULOUS, Gary James, the founder, is on a mission to see that kids with disabilities have access to iPads & iPods to enhance these childrens capabilities.  If you check out any site let it be this one. 
Here is a link to the Facebook page to:

Tell them that Apps for Autism sent you=)

Great Site for Apps

This is one Dad's quest to find educational Apps for ALL kids.  Ron does and incredible job of finding apps and having GREAT giveaways. This is the link to his site.

This is the link to the Facebook page:

Check out Smart Apps for Kids and tell them Apps for Autism sent you=)


Apps for Autism was started to bring you up to date information on apps for children with autism as well as other disabilities.  I will post great content for you to review and decide which apps will hep your child.  Sorting through all the information out there can be very time consuming and that is why Apps or Autism is here, we will do the leg work for you.

Please check us out and subscribe to our page, thanks for checking us out!!