I know you’re doing everything you can to help your child on the spectrum. With summer right around the corner, you’re probably scrambling a bit to figure out how to maintain rhythms and routines, while also continuing with much needed therapy.
Below you’ll find a list of apps to explore just in time for summer, where emotions may range from relief of not having to deal with the morning school hustle to anxiety and stress of having all the kids home for the next three months.
Here are some apps that may help lighten your load a little bit:
1. Calm: This meditation app is great for your child on the spectrum with anxiety. It is a subscription-based app that helps you relax through meditation. Calm is visually pleasing with beautiful background pictures. You can choose from different types of meditations including body scan and walking meditations. You can choose between guided or unguided meditation.
Calm has a calendar to keep track of how many times you meditate during a month. It also includes sessions on kindness and forgiveness, making it perfect for a child struggling with social skills.
You’ll know that I placed the CALM app at the top of the list. This is one of my favorite apps. It is quite expensive for an app, however, this is one of the best, budget-friendly meditation apps out there. Although it’s free to get, you can upgrade to a paid version which includes benefits such as 7-day programs including, but not limited to sleep improvement, stress management, and focus.
It’s something that we use as an entire family. My kids all enjoy the sleep stories, and it’s apart of their nightly routine. One of my favorite features of the calm app is the guided meditation for kids. Afternoons can be quite challenging in our household. We’re all exhausted from the day, a little bit grumpy, and short with each other. Using one of their guided meditation has really helped the kids and I to destress after a hard day of work and school.
2. SmallTalk Oral Motor App (free): This communication app uses traditional and holistic teaching methods to encourage your child to learn to speak on their own. It uses the concept of oral motor exercises as a means to help your child develop the the strength, range of motion, and coordination necessary in order to produce sounds which eventually leads to expressive language.
This is a great app starter app that introduces you and your child to oral motor exercises that you can practice with your child at home. Although, this app isn’t a replacement for a good speech language pathologist it does help your child improve the strength their oral structure, improve mobility and flexibility of their oral structure.
This is a great tool to use in conjunction with speech therapy. Remember, a good SLP will work with you to strategically come up with a plan with the overall goal of effective communication.
Our son is non-speaking for the most part, but we still work on strengthening his oral structure, and range of motion as we’ve seen this does result in unexpected expressive language. He is now able to say dad, hi, and yeah. While his vocabulary is very limited, we rely on his proloquo2go device as his primary mode of communication along with some sign language.
3. Pictello: This app allows you and your child to create social stories and build literacy skills. It is localized in English, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, but offers voices in 35 languages/dialects. Pictello allows you to share your world by creating social stories, schedules, and sharing events. You can personalize your stories by adding photos, videos, and recorded speech. There is even a “Wizard” mode offered for those with limited literacy. Pictello costs $19.99 and can be downloaded on the Apple app store.
Pictello is excellent for on-the-go social stories, whereas a paper one does suffice when you’re in the home or even in a good setting. However, having several social stories on hand can help your child with transitions and ease their anxiety especially if you’re looking to explore new adventures this summer.
I’ve purchased the proloquo2go program, and there is a bundle option that does include Pictello (which I highly recommend).
4. Autism Tracker: This app can be life-changing for autism moms! This is an educational app that helps families explore ASD. It helps you track and analyze sleep patterns, bowel movements, moods, and activities to visualize your child’s improvement and what needs work. You can track several people on the app, and share data using Dropbox, email.
This is especially helpful to share with your child’s teachers and aides during the school year. Anytime you have data-driven observations, it serves you well when your child’s IEP rolls around.
You have the option of the pro version for $9.99 and a free, lite version. The Lite version has the same features as the pro, only the number of entries is limited to 12 per item. You can transfer all the data from the lite to the pro version, so it’s a great way to try out the app for free!
This data is especially helpful when trying to identify triggers. If your child suddenly has a change in mood, or becomes destructive, it’s easier to spot patterns when you’re tracking sleep. As we all know sleep problems are very common with kiddos on the spectrum. If you’re looking to explore treatments, supplements, or even traditional medication to help your child with sleep, bowel movements, or moods, and you’re working with their pediatrician, neurologist, or nutritionist, this data will help them to track progress and periods of regression.
5. Proloquo2go: Although one of the more expensive apps on this list, this Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) app is well worth the price! At $249.99, Proloquo2go features 3 levels of symbol-based vocabulary to grow with your child.
You can even personalize the vocabulary by adding names, favorite places, foods, and more. You can customize the size of the grid screen to best suit the vocab level and motor skills of your child. The app automatically makes a backup of the files every day it’s in use, although it is recommended to make manual backups whenever you make a big change to make sure your customizations stay intact.
Proloquo2go does a great job of simplifying the intricacies of AAC. After opening this app, it only takes a few taps for your child to start communicating with the world around them.
If your child is in need of an AAC device, you can have this program be incorporated into his IEP. Some schools will allow your child to have access to their district assigned iPad year round (even over summer breaks), while others do not.
We’ve personally purchased our own version of proloquo2go when we were in a larger school district, however, the school district that we’re currently in allows for year-round access to communications devices. It doesn’t hurt to ask your child’s SLP (speech-language pathologist) if year-round access is a possibility.
Our son is non-speaking, so using an app like proloquo2go has been helpful for us. This is best used in conjunction with speech therapy and a speech language pathologist.
Well, that about wraps it up. I hope these apps will serve you, and help lighten your load a little bit as you make plans for summer. They may also serve as great apps for your to consider to incorporate into your child’s rhythms and routines once school resumes in the fall. It’ll be here sooner than you think!
Related: How to Rock Your Child’s Next IEP