My name is Melissa Morganlander and my 5-year-old son, Quentin, has been diagnosed with PDD-NOS, a form of autism. Here are five great apps that have helped him greatly, which I have reviewed on my blog, the iQ Journals.
1. Kid in Story – Social stories are step-by-step picture books that help children with autism understand a social event that might otherwise be confusing, frustrating or simply upsetting. This app allows you to create your own social stories and include your child’s photo and record your own audio. I loved using it to prep my son for our trip to Disney World.
2. Model Me Going Places – This great little app does not get nearly enough praise as it should, in my opinion. It uses video modeling to depict some social situations that children with autism often struggle with. Quentin has watched all the videos, multiple times. The best part? It’s free!
3. VAST Autism 1 – Core – This app uses video modeling for speech. Like so many children with autism, Quentin learns best with visual imagery. This app is packed with extreme close-up videos of a mouth speaking basic words and phrases. It's a little odd to watch at first, but for children who struggle with expressive language, it could prove to be really helpful.
4. Toca Boca Hair Salon – While this app is not specifically for children with autism, I discovered it helped my son so much with something he struggled with: getting a haircut. Like most apps from Toca Boca, this is about open-ended play. Being able to be in control of an animated client in the salon chair can really put your haircut-fearing child at ease after several rounds.
5. Go Go Games – This app, designed by graduate students at Stanford University, is a set of games specifically designed for kids on the autism spectrum. The games focus specifically on the skill of matching objects, which can be difficult for some people with autism.
Melissa Morgenlander is an education consultant and holds a Ph.D. in Cognitive Studies from Teachers College, Columbia University. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.