Friday, 15 April 2016 17:29

Understanding autism apps for Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch


It’s Autism Awareness Month, and with research showing Autism Spectrum Disorder affects more people than cerebral palsy, diabetes, deafness, blindness and leukaemia put together, it’s worth knowing about.

April is Autism Awareness Month, with World Autism Day having occurred on 2 April 2016.

Although I missed that date for publication of this article, as it is still Autism Awareness Month, the apps below will come in very handy for anyone wanting to know more on all aspects of the disorder.

Go Blue For Autism is one Australian autism site, while the main global site is Autism Speaks.

The Autism Speaks website explains that “Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development.

“These disorders are characterised, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviours.

“With the May 2013 publication of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual, all autism disorders were merged into one umbrella diagnosis of ASD.

“Previously, they were recognised as distinct subtypes, including autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome.”

So, what are some of the apps available to Apple iOS devices on the topic of autism?

A good list is below:

For parents

Understanding Autism: The Essential Guide for Parents, Professor Katrina Williams (iBook)

The essential reference for parents and carers of children with autism, written by two leading experts in the field, and covering everything from the causes of autism to how it manifests at the various ages and stages of a child’s life, to diet and nutrition, the importance of self-care for parents, how to cope with common behaviours, conditions that can often appear in conjunction with autism (such as anxiety and depression), and how best to manage the transition to adulthood.

ASDetect, La Trobe University (app)

ASDetect empowers parents and caregivers to assess the social attention and communication behaviours of their children younger than 2½ years.

For Primary & Secondary students

Inside Out - Emotions, Aspect Autism Australia (iTunes U)

This iTunes U course helps students learn about emotional regulation by exploring the popular Pixar movie, 'Inside Out'.

For Tertiary students

Living with Autism, La Trobe University (podcasts on iTunes U)

How do autism spectrum disorders affect our lives, and what are the developments in diagnosis, treatment and causes? Podcasts from The Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre (OTARC) at La Trobe University.

More below, please read on. 

For lifelong learners

Special Education, The App Store (App collection)
Thanks to the ingenuity of talented developers, the App Store is filled with educational tools designed for people with special needs. Because every learner is unique, we’ve handpicked valuable apps that span a wide range of subjects - from language development to life skills and more.

The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida (audiobook)

The No. 1 Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller. Written by a thirteen year old boy, this remarkable book provides a rare insight into the behaviour of autistic children. Translated from the original Japanese to help others dealing with autism and generally illuminate a little-understood condition. It gives us an exceptional chance to enter the mind of another and see the world from a strange and fascinating perspective.

Aspect Practice Conversations, by Autism Spectrum Australia (podcast)

Interviews a range of experts in the field of autism, with a particular focus on education and building supportive communities

Choiceworks, by Bee Visual (app)

The Choiceworks app is an essential learning tool for helping children complete daily routines, understand & control their feelings and improve their waiting skills. Created with the support of leading hospitals and child development specialists, this app is designed for caregivers to provide clear and consistent support to foster a child’s independence, positive behavior, and emotional regulation at home and in the community. It can also be customised for teachers in a school setting.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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