There has been a lot of buzz lately about how smartphones and tabs are helping children to learn communication and social skills. The stories that we have heard are hopeful about how these digital gadgets could usher in an era of portable support, learning, communication and independence. While these devices don’t come cheap, they are certainly inexpensive compared to others that are often too heavy to be carried around and applicable to various situations and locations.
With specialized autism apps being developed, a parent, child, teacher and anyone working with autistic children can carry a slim and small device loaded with programs for communicating, and understand how to go to a place, gets prompts to carry out tasks, filter sensory input, keep organized, and recover calm from stress. Those with motor skills problem, the large screen of a tab offer more opportunities and accessibility for skill development, at the same time retaining the function and portability of these devices. Being “cool” is an added bonus and opens the child to social acceptance among peers.
While technology has been equally helpful to grownups as well, adult apps for autism are few in numbers. It seems the autism community, in its eagerness to serve the children, have forgotten about autistic adults, the present ones that have grown largely without the support, diagnosis and the services available now.
But the fact is, many autistic adults can hugely benefit from the apps.
Takes the case of Patrick Jenkins, a 26-year autistic adult from Tennessee. Even before he discovered the smartphone or tab, Patrick used a Walkman during long drives to the countryside with his grandparents. He used the device to ease motion sickness. Later, as a teen, he realized he could use a portable CD player to shut out unwanted sounds while studying. The device was no less than an adult app for autism
A few years back Patrick got his first MP3 music player, which soon started going everywhere with him. He carried the player during his morning walks, to his class for avoiding boredom. He listened to it at food courts, noisy lounges, cafeterias, and almost anywhere.
Patrick has been using a tab for the last six years and always carries the device with him. He runs a few adult apps for autism on it. Patrick, these days, has begun praying that the battery doesn’t run out mysteriously, or the hard drive doesn’t crash. The tab became his constant companion.
But these days, Patrick finds it difficult to upgrade the adult applications for autism on the device. Though it was a hep device six years back, it is now low on configuration. Patrick is already contemplating to change his device because it’s falling short of the latest apps. He’s reading product reviews for this purpose.
Smartphones, tabs and other pocket devices have great potential to assist both adults and children. They are easy to carry. Also, the use of the touch screen is extremely helpful to the users. Autistic people love the motion sensory inputs and many express themselves through the apps.