Autism apps

Apps to support children with autism spectrum disorder

Autism spectrum disorder is a group of conditions where a person has delay or difficulty in thinking and social development, which includes play and communication (language). There are a wide selection of apps aimed at supporting parents and caregivers of children with autism spectrum disorder. Apps have the potential to help children to communicate and express themselves, manage time and routines, better identify and regulate emotions and interact with others. However, many apps are untested and might not help. It’s best to work with your child’s professionals to choose the right apps for your child.

Deciding on suitable apps — help me choose

A study by Boyd et al  looked into the contexts in which learning via apps might be beneficial for children with autism spectrum disorder and the design features for apps to promote learning.2 They identified 5 evaluation criteria to guide teachers and caregivers in evaluating iPad apps for their efficacy in helping improve a child’s communication skills. These criteria are:

  • the ability to customize the app
  • the motor skills the student needs to operate the system
  • the resources and time needed for the intervention
  • the research or evidence-based practices behind the app
  • the cost of using the specific device and app.

Recommended apps

As there are so many apps for children with autism spectrum disorder, we have not been able to review all those available. We have instead identified independent organisations that have reviewed these apps. The following are lists of apps recommended by independent organisations.  

Organisation List of apps 
Brisbane Early Stages (B.E.S.T) Autism Therapy 

(Australia)

The Learning App Guide to Autism and Education
Bridging Apps
(United States)

 
Bridging the gap between technology and people with disabilities
Autism Speaks
(United States)
Technology and Autism
Raising Children
(Australia)
Autism Association of Western Australia
(Australia)
  • A library of app reviews
    The library is searchable by:
    • app categories (fine motor skills, games/motivators, language, literacy, maths/numeracy, miscellaneous, organisation and independence, social skills)
    • ratings (1-5)
    • age ranges (adult, school age, early years)
    • curriculum (critical & creative thinking, personal & social, literacy, ethical behaviour, numeracy, intercultural, information & communication technology)
Common Sense Education (United States)
  • Best apps for kids with autism
    Comprises a list of comprehensive app reviews including what it is, pros, cons, how to teach with this tool, whether is it good for learning and teacher reviews. 
Reading Rockets
(United States)
Apps for children with autism and Asperger's
  • Emotional regulation
    Apps to help kids gauge and manage their emotions, reduce anxiety, and adapt to change.
  • Language and communication
    Apps that give kids tools for communicating with others, through simple pictures, picture-based stories and text-to-speech.
  • Routines, schedules and organisation
    Apps to help kids complete tasks independently at home, school or in the community.
  • Socials skills
    Apps to help kids to understand their emotions better, learn how to read facial expressions, practice social exchanges, create personalised stories and more.
(Note: links to some reviews don't work)
Center on Technology and Disability
(United States)
AT support for autism - app matrix 

References

  1. Allen ML, Hartley C, Cain K. iPads and the Use of "Apps" by Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Do They Promote Learning? Front Psychol. 2016 Aug 30;7:1305.
  2. Boyd TK, Hart Barnett JE, More CM. Evaluating iPad Technology for Enhancing Communication Skills of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders
Last reviewed: 25 Oct 2018