Research indicates that due to a heightened interest in visual materials combined with strong visual processing capabilities, many individuals with autism benefit from using technology. From devices to apps to smart-home implementations, technology can help improve daily life for those on the autism spectrum immensely, and software and devices that are currently in development offer great promise for the future. In a recent edWebinar, Christian Karter, MA, educational technology specialist at Monarch Center for Autism in Ohio, reviewed the benefits of some of this helpful technology.
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is some of most prevalent technology right now for individuals with autism. AAC can supplement or replace speech or writing and allows individuals to use technology to help them communicate. Using a tablet with a communication app loaded onto it is a common way to do this. If the individual is also using a tablet for personal use or play, Karter recommends using two tablets if it’s economically possible—one for personal and one for communication—or using the tablet only for communicating.
Apps & websites for people interested in AAC
Some apps and tools that hold great promise for students with autism
- Proloquo2Go is a symbol-based communication app.
- Story Creator is not specifically an AAC app but allows a user to create simple social stories that can be helpful for communication and interaction.
- Social Detective teaches how to use different social skills to investigate clues.
- Lynda.com is an online training site that may be helpful for families of individuals with autism to learn how to use tablets and other devices.
- AppAdvice and iOSnoops are two sites Karter uses to track app prices since some apps are on the pricier side.
Other technology can transform your house into a smart home and create a safer and more interactive environment. Automatic door locks, motion detectors, cameras, or room-to-room audio and communication can provide added security as well as peace of mind for families. While not a security measure, smart lights can be a helpful visual tool to implement in your home. Philips Hue is one brand that can change the color of lights with the time of day, such as purple lights to indicate bedtime.