When it comes to apps, most people think of gaming, shopping or music. While entertainment apps definitely dominate the marketplace, there are innovative apps out there changing lives in meaningful ways. One such type of app helps children with autism develop and improve necessary communication skills.
Autism is a disorder of neurological development. It is typically characterized by impairment in socialization, communication (verbal and non-verbal) and restricted or repetitive behaviors. Typically, symptoms of autism are recognizable before a child turns 3 years old.
In the past, effectively treating autism was hampered by the belief that if children did not develop communication skills by the age of 5, they never would. Fortunately, a recent study by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles debunked this long held belief. Now children, no matter what age can be taught the necessary skills to keep them on par with or at least closer to their peers in school. One of the most common tools educators, parents and counselors are turning to, are mobile apps; with Apple’s iOS leading the way.
App developers are utilizing the powerful iOS platform to build fully customizable apps to meet each child’s individual needs to assist in their development. One of the first apps to be developed by iOS programmers utilized speech-generating technology. Wubbzy’s Magic School, by Cupcake Digital is a great example of the power of iOS apps. Speech-generating apps allow children with autism to hear the same word over and over with no variance in acoustics. When words sound exactly the same, children with autism can easily understand and incorporate them into their vocabulary.
Another benefit of utilizing iPad apps to develop language skills is the lack of stigma associated with the technology. iPads are becoming more and more integrated into daily life. For children with autism, their peers and teachers, iPad apps make communication easy. Instead of trying to use and interpret hand signals and other non-verbal communication, children with autism can press buttons on a screen to convey their needs and ideas.
iOS programmers are also making play time on iPads more meaningful and enjoyable. Developers are crafting apps based on classic board games. The overall design of the app is a simpler version of the board games which makes learning easier and more fun. The apps are purposefully intuitive allowing parents and educators to introduce new features at a suitable rate to match the child’s developmental capability.
As the future unfolds, it is clear that technology will continue to help change lives for the better in the most unexpected ways. While research continues to develop ways to effectively help children with autism, tackling other issues doesn’t appear to be outside of the realm of possibility. With iPads and apps leading the way the future looks bright for everyone.