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Technology and Autism

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Have you, or someone you know on the spectrum, used assistive technology to help communicate? Are there any applications you favor? What are some pros and cons of using assistive technology for those on the spectrum?

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  1. March 7, 2011 at 9:52 am

    We’ve tried various devices, like the Chatbox, Alt-Chat, Proloquo2Go, Dynavox, all for speaking. (Alt Chat is what works best now.) Oh, and the Go-Talk. We also use the computer to help make choices (screens full of things he likes to do, eat, places to go). There are some excellent social stories, and scheduling programs on the iTouch but it is too small, so we might invest in an iPad.

  2. sue
    March 7, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Would love to hear about anyones experience with any Ipad apps and recommendations…I have a son with autism, who as we like to say speaks selectively.

    • cathy jacobs
      March 9, 2011 at 1:08 pm

      My son Gage is almost 4 and his i-phone touch has given him a small and useful communicative device that he can use with ease everywhere.
      The i-prompt is a PECS application for the i-phone touch, but without the bulk and Gage can use it at school,at home, in the car at the diner, etc.. It’s amazing.

    • Laura Rodrigues
      August 24, 2011 at 4:39 pm

      My daughter has the IPAD and we LOVE it!! She uses it primarily for educational apps, games and downloading her favorite music. She has a dynavox xpress for her language needs so this isn’t a primary focus of her ipad, although there are some great language/communication apps out there for the ipad. We just downloaded some new apps from dynavox that are great for the ipad! They focus on memory, spelling, speech and reading skills. All great for maintaining skills and learning new skills.

      We all actually use her ipad but it was the best buy we’ve ever made. It’s practical for the whole family and the apps are endless. If you go on autismspeaks.org they have some recommended apps for the ipad for kids with autism you might want to check those out. Also some apps will let you try them or preview them before you purchase them.

      Lastly, I’m not sure where you live but in San Jose, CA Parents Helping Parents have an itech department where you can go for a consultation with an AAC Specialist and she will allow you to preview a lot of apps to see which ones are best suited for your child’s needs. If you don’t live in the area check to see if this service or one like it exits in your local area. I hope this helps.

  3. Anita
    March 7, 2011 at 10:00 am

    We loved that our son could use an accomodation of using a computer to do his papers because handwriting was a major challenge for him. I am concerned that in doing so he got his message across but enough effort wasn’t put in to handwriting at school. They figured as long as he was completing his assignments it wasn’t needed. We practiced outside of school to improve his handwriting. It was good to not have to turn it in – no pressure on amount completed – but he wouldn’t have improved without any practice on our part. Unfortunately he still thinks I’m mean for having him do it. I don’t think he sees it as having value because the school didn’t.

    • victoria
      March 7, 2011 at 10:44 am

      My son is 11 and he has Autism spectrum , he can not write, at least you are unable to read it most of the time, he can type 30 wpm nad it is very reable, if you would investigate why some children do nt write with autism , so do not hug, and some do not talk. The responce is not there that other children may have, my son acted as if it hurt him to hold the pencil, as if it was burning him kind of, but then again he would stick his hand in the snow with no effects what so ever until it was too late. A gentle hug to a child with autism , may hurt. You are right training them to do something over and over again gets them over the feer, but once one task is complete they may lose another task they have already accomplished, I am grateful my son can type, I am grateful he talks to me. I am looking into the i pad as well for christmas this year. For every thing we can do we will.

    • jeannette
      April 16, 2011 at 9:30 am

      Anita – I homeschooled my son who had, amoung other things, disgraphia – terrible handwritting coupled with difficulty getting words on paper. We worked on typing skills and I took a lot of dictation – it was important that his creative writting development continued and not be limited by handwritting.

      I found out about another homeschooling mom who was starting a “scriptorium” so kids could pretend they were monks, using pen and ink on parchment type paper and learn a little bit about calligraphy. This spoke to my son, a real history nut, and he asked to go. So with no expectations we gave it a go. HE LOVED IT!. On his own initiative he practiced with the novel pen and ink at home. He worked to perfect his letters and even tried illuminating the letters. His regular handwritting did improve slightly, but, more important to me is that he took pride in his lettering and understood the importance of writting so other could read it. He is in college now, and loving school. His note-taking handwritting is readable to him, and even to me. For other audiences he types, but then again these days, who doesn’t.
      Hang in there, the light at the end of the tunnel might just be daylight!

  4. March 7, 2011 at 10:01 am

    There are many types of a assistive technology that we use everyday. They are so common we don’t see them as assistive technology.

    We must remember that this type of technology just means it’s something being a program, a device, dog or anything that improves the quality of life for ppl.

    I for one love the iPod. This device has a lot of different apps for it that help children on the spectrum and the apps that are here can also be used on the ipad.

    On my site I also like to write about different types of technology. You should check me out: autistichelper.org

  5. Lisa
    March 7, 2011 at 10:03 am

    I have a 9 year old autistic student who has used PECS for years. He’s very proficient with PECS and seems to find security and confidence in using pictures to communicate. Though he doesn’t soley rely PECS to fulfill his basic needs/wants, it does help him to expand his mean length of utterance significantly! He’s become increasingly verbal, though it’s primarily responsive. I’m open to trying assistive technology with him, but I hesitate that he will learn to rely on a device rather than his ability to communicate verbally. Any insight?

  6. Sharon
    March 7, 2011 at 10:07 am

    I have 2 boys with Autism. My oldest is 10 and has been using a Dynavox speaking device since he was 5. He adapted immediately because computers have always been his ‘thing’. My youngest, age 8, never found use for it. He is not as technology orientated as his brother, and found the Dynavox as a more of a toy. We got ipads in the recent months for both and have now transitioned to the Proloquo2go app. I have to say this is the easiest communication program I have ever used. My 10yr old transitioned quite easily and my 8yr old is using it functionally and correctly. The ipad has made using a speaking device more socially acceptable, as it is not awkward and 10lbs like the dynavox. My oldest uses the Proloquo2go for his school work, and the teachers and therapists find it very appealing and fun to use. My 10yr has very, very limited speech. Without the use of these devices, we clearly would not know how bright he really is.

  7. Ellenora Hurt
    March 7, 2011 at 10:11 am

    It started off with music and now it’s video games.It seems to calm him when he’s playing video games.

    • Kim
      March 10, 2011 at 1:32 pm

      Thanks for posting this.. My son has Asperger’s and major anxiety. One thing that we have found with him, is that when he is having a difficult moment or hard time we school, we take a Wii time out.. He is allowed to go to his room and play his favorite wii game for a predetermined amount of time (usually 20-30 min).. just enough to help him calm down and refocus on the task at home. He also really likes any type of music and the wii dance.. sometimes he dances other times, just listenes to the music.

  8. Coral Berry
    March 7, 2011 at 10:12 am

    I have autistic twin grandsons and when they had to do papers at school, we fount it better to have them do them on the computer as they loved using it and they would get their work done with much less trouble and fighting. as one comment said the handwriting was an problem.

  9. Tanya
    March 7, 2011 at 10:14 am

    My adorable 9 year old son who has autism and is severely mentally challenged uses his iPad and the app Proloquo2Go to communicate. He has become a real pro at it and will do it spontaneously and when I ask him to. Right now, he only uses it for requests, but this app can definitely grow with him. Once you learn it, it is very easy to use. You can use your own pics or one of the tons of PECS type symbols. It’s as easy for him as touching a button. No one thought he would be capable of using it and even tried discouraging me from “wasting” my money on it (even his SLP), but I knew I could teach him. He’s been using it now for over a year and a half (it’s on his iPod touch too). They tried many different devices in school and said he just stimmed with them. But I knew this program would work for him after doing a ton of research. It has literally changed our lives. My son is a lot less frustrated, makes more eye contact, and even taps us to get our attention now. It is like he is talking to us just without his voice. He is so much more engaged and has become very creative with communicating as well. I’ve seen him tap me and look at me, point to a favorite book and then point toward the tv to tell me he wanted to watch that character on tv. It has even increased his fine motor skills (hitting the right small buttons on the iPod touch). He used to just scream and bite himself all the time from the frustration. Now he is very patient. If he isn’t paying attention and hits the wrong button, or it doesnt respond to his touch the first time, he doesn’t scream, he just keeps trying. It’s just such an amazing thing to find the right device for your completely non-verbal child, to finally give them a voice :-)

  10. March 7, 2011 at 10:34 am

    My son is three years old and after months of using my laptop and Android phone to play games, we decided to get him an iPad. Best. Decision. Ever. Yes, it was expensive but well worth the money – in just two weeks, my son is communicating for the first time with Tap To Talk. He is playing games he never had patience/focus/attention for before like match games and puzzles. He has to ask permission to watch videos now (he is obsessed with Yo! Gabba Gabba). His SLP is amazed because he is doing things like taking turns, generalization and sequencing because of the games he plays on the iPad – all in one week! I do have to limit the time spent on it playing games or he would not do any other activities, but he doesn’t even tantrum anymore when I tell him (for example) “Eat first, then iPad!” His teacher reports that his behavior has improved dramatically at school – he is participating more in circle time and recess games, he is more willing to complete activities, etc. I can’t say enough about the iPad… he carries it everywhere with him and now there are no more “boredom tantrums” as I call them. You know, when you are waiting in the lobby of the doctor’s office or when you are in the car on a semi- long trip. iPad = Miracle in our house!!

    • Laurie Swinney
      March 11, 2011 at 8:53 pm

      I am so glad to read this, my son is almost 5 and uses a smart board at school and i have been considering getting him one. Thanks for posting this!!!

    • Stacie Hargrove
      March 18, 2011 at 10:53 am

      Hi Lynn! I so appreciate your comment. My 2yr old (will be 3 in June) has used tap to talk on my Droid for a while now but gets frustrated when I need to use my phone. I am waiting on his IPad to arrive so that he will be able to use that instead. We have seen an improvement in his ccmmunication skills. What are some of the other apps your son uses? I would really be grateful fot the information. Thank you!

  11. March 7, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Tanya :
    It’s just such an amazing thing to find the right device for your completely non-verbal child, to finally give them a voice :-)

    I completely agree! My child is completely non-verbal too and I am brought to tears knowing that even if he never speaks, he will have a voice!!

  12. Melissa
    March 7, 2011 at 10:39 am

    My son is 5 and uses his Ipad all the time. He has the verbal skills of about a 3 year old. He doesn’t use it to communicate but has increased his Kindergarten learning by leaps and bounds in the two months he has had it. There are many special education apps and he is finally learning to categorize things, rhyme, and match. There are also apps to assist in handwriting, his fine motor skills are substantially delayed. This has been very helpful too. I am amazed at what he can do and he what he knows that I didn’t realize he knew because of his limited speech. Surprisingly it is also tougher than it appears. My son tends toward violent episodes and I worried that he would smash it during a fit. It has been thown and dropped several times and has survived. I was able to buy a hard shell case for it online which I would strongly recommend if you are getting one for a kid that throws!

    • Michele Kelley
      March 7, 2011 at 11:38 am

      Where did you find the apps? I am a Special Education teacher with some non-verbal students. We have been thinking about getting an IPAD for the students. I just purchased one for home so I will take it to school to see how it works. I need help finding apps. Thanks!

      • Melissa
        March 8, 2011 at 4:51 pm

        I got all of mine from itunes. I search special education apps, autism apps, and preschool apps. There are literally hundreds and many of them are free. There are even apps to help identify facial expressions and social stories too. I seriously can’t tell you how much this has helped my son develop in a very short amount of time.

      • Lucy
        March 18, 2011 at 1:53 pm

        I just found many applications on the Autism Speak website. It is really awesome.

  13. janice
    March 7, 2011 at 10:47 am

    We have an I-Pad and it is so great. We haven’t even scratched the surface on the spectrum of curriculum available with programs that teach language and math concepts, with new apps everyday! It is so exciting to have so much information and resources within the reach of a button.
    It can read books out loud, present flashcards and drill individual skills. It can take dictation. The I-Pad is like having an assistant to help with academics. The spectrum of resources that are available in less than 30 seconds compares to having a personal librarian at your side. The I-Pad can do what teachers and SLP’s have already given up on, present material, maintain and repeat, without giving up, getting tired or frustrated with the child. The I-Pad is convenient too, it assists any time, any day, I can’t wait until they are accepted into schools.

    I think the I-Pad will help children develop language skills at a faster pace and enable children the appropriations to be included in the regular classroom. The I-Pad is amazingly simple and will allow children with sensory issues the chance to learn how to listen and communicate.

    • Michele Kelley
      March 7, 2011 at 11:43 am

      What apps do you use and where do I find them? Thanks !

      • janice
        March 7, 2011 at 1:07 pm

        try I-Tunes store


        My fav this week is:
        Dragon Dictation-will type what you say
        MathBoard to learn basic math skills.

        I have found that the barriers that block typical curriculums are gone, because the user decides how fast, how much, how long to go instead of a teacher. Apps custom the application to the user and this approach helps children work on individual strengths and weaknesses through one-on-one assistance.
        It is amazing assistance for the children trying to break the language code.

  14. kate
    March 7, 2011 at 10:49 am

    I teach 1st grade and have a student with Autism. I teach at a private school that has no resources for special needs students. I have been fighting all year for resources to help my student and finally invested my own money to provide the technology needed. I now have a computer for him to use for writing (journal & formal writing) as well as an itouch for him to use to practice blending & segmenting. I have seen HUGE improvements in him and am excited to see where this takes him.

    • Dixie
      March 18, 2011 at 6:23 pm

      What application are you using on the ipod touch for blending and segmenting?



  15. rebecca
    March 7, 2011 at 10:51 am

    my seven year old son was given the full autism diagnosis 2 days after he turned 3 years old. we were so pleased that he learned how to use the picture exchange (pecs) , but i knew down deep that he was able to speak. with the help of his teachers at the time guiding me and giving me the tools i needed to get him to talk ,it took some time but i finally got to hear him speak. he was just over 5 years old and i got to hear say his favorite thing to do “bath” i cried for hours and called everyone i knew . i was proud and today i am even more proud he went from non-verbal to know at just over 7 years old has unlimited potential with verbal skills he tries to say every word he hears . getting to unlock your child has to be all of our goals are as auti-parents and when they reach that goal you glow with pride !!!!!!!

    • rebecca
      March 7, 2011 at 10:53 am

      oh which by the way my thoughts on the subject sure use them but dont let it become the only way you talk with your child ….anything to help unlock them is great

  16. Kelly Lenahan
    March 7, 2011 at 10:58 am

    My 11 yr old son is autistic and when he was 3 he had a speech evaluation for an augmentative device because he didn’t speak. I was told by the children’s hospital that he would never be able to do anything, to not waste my time or money or my insurance’s money, that he would be better off institutionalized. They said that if he couldn’t even do the PEC system how could he possibly EVER do any of the augmentative devices? I tried explaining that the PEC system was not what he responded to, I saw him respond to the tv and to the computer and that he was learning to talk from it. They said he would never talk, it was only echoalia and that he didn’t know or understand what he was saying.

    I refused to give up on my son and believe what they had to say, I knew in my heart that he was understanding and learning and communicating, just differently. We purchased a touch screen monitor and had him evaluated by someone else for an augmentative device. They took 6 mths to evaluate him and by that time, my son started speaking words and phrases. He loved being on the computer and just flourished with it. He started looking things up on his own like all the different dinosaurs, power rangers or yugi-ohs. He loved watching the power rangers or other shows like that on youtube and would sing along with them in JAPANESE. My heart was so blessed with these things after they said he would never be able to do anything.

    Don’t give up on your child, if one technique doesn’t work for them, then find another… It is amazing to watch my son on the computer, sometimes heartbreaking because he will find an AWESOME toy that he loves and wants for Christmas on the internet and it no longer exists or came out 10 yrs ago or whatever. He cant comprehend that just because he sees it on there, that we cant get it.

    Just tell Santa and Santa will get it… if ONLY life was that easy to just tell Santa everything we want and he will get it for us. : )

    • Barb r.
      March 12, 2011 at 8:06 pm

      Kelly, our don is 9 and reminds me so much of your son. Evan only had echolalia until he was 3 years old. Lots of preschool and now computers have opened his world. His latest fascination is info
      Ercials. Hd too finds cool things that are out of date. It’s hard but usually we can get him to move onto something else. Our daughter is more severely affected, but I will never give up! I will not be told what they can or cannot do! I love them too much, as I’m surf you do your son as well. thank you for sharing your story. Barb – ft Wayne, Indiana

  17. Mickey
    March 7, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Has anyone ever tried Neurofeed back(biofeed back). My son is 11 and we did it for 6 months twice a week for half hour at a time. His speech is sooo much better. It could be expensive and hard to find someone who is qualified to do it. I had gotten help though my community and their programs. I believe that helping to retrain the brain to do what it was meant to do totally helps. I know others have also done this and it worked for severely challenged children also.

    • March 10, 2011 at 2:53 pm

      Hi Mikey;
      My son (9yo) has asperger’s. We started using Neurofeedback back in August. He has made big improvements since then. I am a Doctor Of Chiropractic, and i was able to take the training course and buy the equipment and use it on my son. NFB is also good for headache’s, chronic pain, fibromayalgia …etc. But, trying to get the schools to look at NFB is very diffcult. Our school district is very conserveative. Just to encourge you the more NFB you can Do the better your son wiil be.

      • Stephanie
        February 8, 2012 at 8:36 pm

        My son is 7 and we also did the NFB with him when he was 5. We saw huge improvements also. He is a different child now. Calmer and more in control. The only problem was that insurance didn’t pay for it but we would do anything for our son to be successful. He actually did it for 1 hour every week for a year and then we slowly spread out sessions. He now goes only for updated maintenance when he seems to need it.

  18. Kelly Lenahan
    March 7, 2011 at 11:07 am

    My 11 yr old son is autistic and in the 5th grade. He just got evaluated and it was discovered that his reading and comprehension are 2.5 – 3 grade level. It was suggested that we get him some kind of e-reader and some headphones and have the ebooks read aloud to him as he follows along. Does anyone have any suggestions? I have been running into dead walls on this with people saying that something like that doesn’t exist.

    Sitting next to him reading aloud is not the same, he doesn’t respond as well or it keep his attention. I wish it would, I would read all day and night with him and tell him wonderful stories. He would get up and leave and his sister would stay behind and listen. I didn’t use monotone, I definitely used inflection and other techniques to help make the stories come alive, but he wanted no part of it. Trying to get him to read or to read out loud he acts as if it is a jail sentence and we are trying to torture him. We get the constant meltdowns and if we are lucky he might read a little, but rushes thru it and understands nothing. There is absolutely ZERO interest.

    The school said that if we cant get his reading level up they don’t know how he will pass into the other grades, and be able to do or understand the work. Never mind high school. They are telling me that high school may not even be an option for graduation or anything. He starts middle school in the fall and I am supposed to be getting him ready for that.

    Any help or ideas anyone can give me would be greatly appreciated… to come so far with him, and then feel like somehow I am letting him down by not finding the tool that can help him learn is so frustrating and heartbreaking.

    • jennifer
      March 10, 2011 at 2:12 pm

      I have a kindle from amazon and it has the option to read to my children and it has a headphone jack my 11 yr old with autism loves it we can also do spelling games and things on it hang in there and continue to advocate for your son sometimes we are all they have!!!

    • Greg
      March 10, 2011 at 2:50 pm

      Kelly, I have an autistic 17 well in two month 18yr. old, My wife and I went thru alot of same type of things. It always amazes me that they don’t know theres a problem until 5th grade. We moved from a school district that Tyler(my son) had a helper from pre school thru 5th grade and did well, the new district that we moved to said Oh we don’t do that here were afraid he will become to attached. By 8th grade I had had it! I new he was alot smarter then they could see, most times he knew the answer from what he had read or learned about but just could not answer, and test were even worse he would get stuck on a question and could not move on. By 9th grade they had him in a room that was behind the lunch room that looked just like a kindergarden class. We found a non profit organization The Family Network /The Md Coalition of Families
      After many IEP meetings and the head of the district’s special education telling us ” Well we can put him in regular classes but we don’t think he will be able to keep up. We held him back a year, they gave in gave him a helper to keep him on task “HIS OWN” not some one in the class room to help with 5 other children. He will now graduate next year and has been on the honor roll at least 4 times. My wife now works for that same non profit helping parents find help and information. I don’t know where your from but find an Advocate in your area and ask for help. The school system will not tell you what all is avalible to you, and when you ask the answer is very often NO!!

  19. ommahatt
    March 7, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    my 6 yrs old use the ipad he likes the starfall application alot when he wants to go grandparents house he click on it he see like baby he click on that and when some situation he had is smilier to astory in he also tap it down but to make it a way of comunication i hope i can do that he speeks some words but not so many Thank GOD I have him he is new experiance

  20. irma
    March 7, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    My son, who is 17 and non-verbal, has used many of the devices mentioned but has preferred the Light Writer. We are considering introducing a communication app on the Ipad, so far he’s used the Ipad for games only. Has anyone use the Ipad for both communication and games, if so how has your child (or adult) transitioned between both applications?

  21. Kathy
    March 7, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    My 11 year old son is high functioning autistic and communicates relatively well. His biggest struggle in school is with reading comprehension. I hear so many good things about the Ipad, but most of the apps I hear about are for communication help. Does anyone know of other uses or benefits of the Ipad for autistic children? Any specific apps you would recommend?

  22. Kari
    March 7, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    My 18 year old son is high functioning and a senior this year. He uses what is called a AlphaSmart. It is a word processor that weighs about 3 lbs and can be carried like a laptop. It connects to the computer to transfer files and to print his work. His hand writing is awful but he can type really well. He does his school work and takes his notes on it. He started using it in the 6th grade and it has been a great tool.

    • Anita
      March 7, 2011 at 9:01 pm

      My son used an AlphSmart also. If he hadn’t they would never have figured out what he was trying to communicate. His handwriting was totally illegible.

    • Rose
      March 7, 2011 at 10:15 pm

      Great Thanks for the post!!

  23. Rose
    March 7, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    I love this topic, we tried the PECS, then the Go-Talk, we noticed he wanted to talk to us not a machine, and even sign language(which is how colors finaly made sense to our son) he loved seeing me sign how proud I was of him. But the best was videos and music(Loves the wii kids dance), they break the ice on topics then we hear the new words used in the right ways. BUT I would love to hear more on iPads, we would have to save for awhile but we could get one if they are worth it. Please keep sharring on this topic I will keep reading and investigating. Oh and we use Speak Easy?? supplements we noticed a big jump in words with that supplement. Our son too hates to write unless he can write dinosaur names and trace his toy dinosaurs hopefully he will stop fighting writing his name soon.

  24. March 8, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    I work with a company that makes assistive technology, for instance, a keyless keyboard that functions like the standard keyboard and 3 button mouse in one. It’s called the OrbiTouch. Basically, the user uses two dome-like sensors that move in different directions to type and mouse. It plugs into your computer like a normal USB keyboard.

    We’ve had a lot of success with highly functioning kids who are the Autism Spectrum. Being able to use a word processor to email, play games, and use social media has greatly increased their independence.

  25. March 8, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Our son uses both an iPod & iPad. He has learned so much from all the apps available. We have several listed on our website & some PDF’s that list tons that you can download. The first recommendation that I would give is to purchase a very good case to protect the device. My second piece of advice is to not expect a miracle. It does take time for kids to learn how to use the device (our son took about 30 second!) & to figure out how to use it to help them. Parents & educators also need to be able to use the device & value it. The child should always have it with them & be encouraged to use it. Our son can work on every school subject, watch movies, play games, look at pictures, use visuals & social skills stories, & if needed use it as a communication device. There is no one app that is perfect for everyone, but the cost, portability, and diverse uses put everything else to shame (in my opinion). We are also happy to report that our local Apple stores have been fantastic with supporting us. I strongly feel & believe that one of the best ways for my son to learn is through the use of technology.

  26. Sam Alexander
    March 9, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    My son is 16 and non verbal. He does communicate with voice output programs Write Outloud and Co-writer by Don Johnston. I highly recommend these computer programs.

  27. Cara
    March 10, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    My daughter is 2 years old and just diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Before we even had started the process when she was 20 months old we realized she wasn’t playing with any toys. She just wasn’t interested in them. She was however, interested in my iphone so i downloaded her an app: First Words. She loved it, 20 months and she could move letter together to spell a word that was shaded. It was almost matching but it spelled a word and she was quickly learning. 2 months into early intervention programing we realized my now 2 year old, can read! It is purely sight reading but she picks up words so quickly! When they diagnosed her with Autism, they said she had hyperlexia and her love for letters allows for her to learn words really quickly. The fact that she knows what the words mean however is fantastic. Reading words without knowing what they are is one thing but knowing exactly what they are is quite another. We upgraded her to the ipad last may and she has just exploded fantastic skills that of course are from a lot of hard work in her lessons with her speech and behavioral teachers but they are also due in a lot of part from the ipad and iphone. She is incredible and makes me so proud of her each day

  28. Barb Richards
    March 10, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    I have two children with Autism. We have been blessed through Danny’s Wish, a foundation that is donating iPads to familes that have children with Autism and communication issues. You should check out their website. Our daughter has very verbal ability, but VERY strong receptive language skills. She has no trouble with wrote memory or concrete skills like colors, counting, etc. I hope this iPad can help to expand her world and let us see inside her mind. We have already tried some of the free apps on my iPhone and she loves the spelling app!! My son is higher functioning and we just bought him a new desktop computer. We’re hoping that this will open his world and help him be more excited about school and learning. I’m so thankful for message boards like these, it reminds me that I’m not alone. Thanks everyone for sharing!!

    • Lola
      March 10, 2011 at 3:02 pm

      Wow! I had not heard about Danny’s Wish & am applying now. Thank you so much for the information. My 4-year old son is non-verbal and enjoys using the FirstWords app on my iPhone, but an iPad would be so much better for him. I have been trying to save, but as we all know, many services for autistic children are not covered by insurance.

  29. March 10, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    What a great topic. I started my company, Brain Parade, because I felt that the technology innovation for special needs children was lagging and the iPad presented a really great platform to change that. We released our app See.Touch.Learn. and the feedback I received from some of the people using it is that the the iPad is so well received by the children that the pairing time at the start of a session is reduced or eliminated. In one case a girl who usually took quite a while to warm up to the behavior analyst came right over to her when she took out the iPad.

    I often get asked about where to find good apps for children with autism. In fact I’ve been asked so often that I added a page to my website just for that purpose. Go to http://brainparade.com/products/links-to-other-apps/ for a list of sites that provide reviews and recommendations of apps for children with autism or other special needs.

    -Jim McClafferty
    Founder, Brain Parade

  30. March 11, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    At Yick Wo Elementary School in San Francisco, CA we have an k-5 autism specific special education program. Working closely with our assistive technology specialist, We have seen how our students with limited communication benefit from the ichat, and the go talk however the devices are extremely expensive and can take up to a year to get insurance coverage. We came across this article in SFWeekly:


    We are currently putting together a fundraiser to raise money for 10 ipads for our students. If you live in the bay area and are interested in attending please check out our website: ipadsforautism.info

  31. carl
    March 11, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    Has anyone used the TANGO device with a child with autism.
    What are your view pro/con?

  32. March 14, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    As assistive technology developers, we have maintained the notion that the promotion of self-determination for individuals with cognitive disabilities is very important. While total independent living may not be achieved by many individuals, interdependent living may be promoted through tools that aid in building self-determination and life skills.

    We recently released for public use, a tool sparked by our lead developer’s autistic brother, is called Picture Planner, a visual scheduling application with prompts, reminders, and daily checkoff lists. Designed for intuitive use using preloaded pictures and icons or uploaded personal pictures, Picture Planner can be modified to meet the most intricate detailed schedule or can be as broad and generalized as a simple catch bus #41 at 3 PM prompt.

    The application is used on a desktop computer, Mac or PC and may be synced to an iPad, iPod or other iOS mobile devices. The application resonates exceptionally well with transition specialists but we have had an amazing amount of interest by other cognitive specialists as well. The universal design of Picture Planner gives it a very broad application.

    We will happily send you a demo disk so that you may assess the software fit for a need and we are offering webinars on how to use Picture Planner from the ground up. Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments – we’re here to help you build life-skilsl that last a lifetime.

  33. March 14, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    Late too the discussion, apologies — for folks looking for apps guidance — I collaborate on a constantly updated spreadsheet of apps that my ten-year-old son Leo uses and enjoys:


    For AAC, we use iCommunicate. Leo is verbal for requesting though not for conversation, so Proloquo2Go didn’t quite work for him.

  34. R Kane
    March 19, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Has anyone had success with an ipad for a non verbal adult with autism?

    • Laura
      March 22, 2011 at 3:51 pm

      I just bought the IPad for my 19 year old daughter with autism. She is non-verbal and uses a Dynavox Xpress for communication. We are just getting used to her IPad but we loaded her music on it and her games (bookworm, solitaire, chuzzle. and bejeweled) and she learned how to use the device very quickly. We’re exploring what educational apps to buy and so far are looking at the ones I found recommended on the Autism Speaks website. I will keep everyone posted as to what we buy and how it works. I saw a couple I’d like to try. I wish all the apps came with free 7-day demo’s so you could try them before you bought them.

  35. carl
    March 19, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Expressive and proloquo2go. Both can be downloaded via itunes.

  36. carl
    March 20, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    I’ve downloaded Expressive and Proloquo2go on my itouch.
    The latter is for higher users.
    Both can be downloaded via itunes

  37. March 21, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    For AAC beginning communicators:
    SpeechTree for iPad http://www.speechtreeapp.com will be released this summer. Free webinars will be held by SLP to demonstrate if it is right for you. SpeechTree features a full AAC communication component and research based-educational lessons for beginning communicators.

    You can also follow SpeechTree on facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpeechTree/146845735343790

  38. Laura
    March 22, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    I have a 19 year old daughter with autism. She just got the IPad and absolutely loves it. We put her music and games on it right away and she is learning how to navagate it really quickly. I’m looking at apps that would be good for her but there are so many choices. I’m looking for apps that will help her to maintain her reading, labeling, spelling and math skills that she currently has. I only find math at a very low level. It would be nice to find something with all the basics, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and measures like 1/2, 1/4 etc. But so far just counting and very basic math skills. It’s hard to find age appropriate apps for her because of the autism and not knowing really what level would work. It would be great if all the apps allowed you a 7-day free trial so you can demo them before buying. If anyone knows where I can find a math apps with all the basics that would be great. I’m for creating more apps with older kids in mind as well as the little guys.

  39. April 2, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Feel free to visit http://www.globalaugmentative.com . I am a speech pathologist and ASHA approved continuing education provider. My blog offers more insight to augmentative and alternative communication and iPad educational apps for autism.
    Sign up for our free updates.

  40. Jerri Rocha
    July 28, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    I have enjoyed reading all the response here on the help from the Ipads…BUT I need to know if there is a program out there that will help this grandmother raising an Autistic child to even possible get an Ipad ??


  41. carl
    July 29, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Look at these websites

    Remember that the technology is not magic. If a system is appropriate, the child must be trained to use it.
    There are many apps. I don’t know where your grandchild is cognitively but it’s a good idea to start with basics.
    itunes store has a yes/no communication app which cost about $1.99
    I would recommend that you stay away from the pricey apps until you can determine what’s best for your grandchild’s needs.
    Some AAC companies make cases that will protect and amplify the volume of an ipad.
    Good luck

  42. August 24, 2011 at 9:42 am

    My nephew has autism and lives with his disabled grandmother. They cannot afford a computer for him to use. Is there somewhere that can help him obtain one?

  43. carl
    August 24, 2011 at 10:15 am

    I suggest that you first check with the school system your nephew attends.
    Many have technology divisions that can provide AAC or assistive technology.
    Speak to his therapist. He will need an evaluation to determine if the technology is appropriate.

  44. Laura Rodrigues
    August 24, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    I live in Tracy, CA and my daughters AAC Specialist just retired. She also was a licensed SLP. We are looking for a new Specialist but our district is telling us that they can’t locate anyone with both credentials. Does anyone know how I can find someone who is both an SLP and specializes in AAC devices?? I would really appreciate the help. We meet with our district to see what they are proposing Friday (8/26) and I’d love to do some research on my own to see who I can find. Any recommendation or advice would be greatly appreciated.

  45. Amanda Biel
    October 5, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    Hello everyone! I wanted to share with you a great website for some very helpful autism/special needs apps for your ipad/iphone/tablet pc etc. Check out


    The Mobile Education Store has great apps for conversation building, language building, question building, a speech journal, and so much more! All great apps that target our autism kiddos. Also, while you are there, check out the main site A4CWSN (Apps for Children with Special Needs).

    Blessings to you!


  1. March 8, 2011 at 12:21 am
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