How do you feel generally about the use of apps and the iPad in teaching children with autism social and communication skills?
I think iPads can be really useful for autistic users, since the touch-based interface is simple and easy to use, and they allow learning to take place in different modes — using graphics, sound, text, and/or video. The proliferation of apps has been both a good and a worrisome matter. Good because the price of software has (mostly) come down dramatically, so apps that might have been $89 [or the UK equivalent] on CD are available for one or two dollars from the App Store. AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) apps can be a tenth of the price of similar dedicated device options.
But the App Store is also very much a buyer beware scenario, from an autistic user’s perspective — apps with good content often have clunky interfaces, others do not take into account autistic learning styles or motor planning needs; still others try to teach autistic learners things that non-autistic people think they should learn, like making eye contact. So people need to be aware that just because an app says it’s for autistic users doesn’t meant it’s *good* for autistic users.
And then there are apps like those from Toca Boca, which aren’t specifically designed for autistic users, but work for kids like Leo because they rely on visuals and action rather than complicated storylines or reading.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers?
Besides how much I love my son? Perhaps, how pleased I am that Leo lives in the iPad era, and how fun it has been to watch him during the past five years as he’s used iPads and apps (like those from Toca Boca) to entertain himself and enhance his learning. Shannon’s article, Five Years of My Autistic Son Rocking His iPad can be read here https://synapse.pub/five-years-of-my-autistic-son-rocking-his-ipad-7bb380d10f1c
The Toca Boca website can be found here http://tocaboca.com/