For children with autism, social skills don’t come naturally. They often have problems making and maintaining eye contact, reading facial and other non-verbal cues and respecting personal space. They might have a hard time understanding what is expected during social situations. Because of their awkwardness in social settings, they may find it hard to make and keep friends, they are often the target of bullies and they might suffer from poor self esteem.
With new technology, help might be as close as your phone or tablet. The following are apps to help children with autism, and other disabilities, learn and be more effective in social situations. Because every child with autism is different, take time to find out about each app to find the one that is best for your child’s situation. Some are available on Apple devices only, some on Android and some can be used on either. The prices for the apps also vary.
An app loaded with different social situations. Your child can ask a question and get advice on how to handle the situation. It can be used to prepare for an upcoming social event or can be used as a quick way to check on the best way to handle the situation. According to the description, it can: "Teach skills, reduce meltdowns, change attitudes and train the brain."
It is currently available on Apple devices but an Android application is in the works. It is $49.99.
This app trains children to maintain eye contact and convey basic emotions. It is available in the Google Play store and although you don’t need a Samsung device to use it, it has been optimized to work best on thee devices. It is free.
The Storysmart suite has several different apps. Each tells a story and asks for the child’s input in deciding how to act in different situations. Each story app is sold separately, for example, Trudy Goes to the Beach is $3.99 on iTunes and Casey’s Big Day which teachers social language skills is $2.00 on iTunes.
This is an online program designed to help children and young adults with autism develop social skills. It teaches them how to "think and manage social situations" giving them information on reading emotions, emphasizing and tips on how to talk to others. It teaches them to identify how they are feeling and pick a coping strategy. For a single person, the cost is $4.99 a month or $53.89 per year. There is a free trial available.
One difficulty for children with autism is learning to read the emotions of others through facial expressions. This app uses different facial expressions to help your child learn more than 30 different emotions. The app is available for Apple devices and is free.
This app is designed for younger children and provides activities for practicing basic social skills, such as verbalization, emotional recognition, directions, gae and color recognition. It is available for the iPad and is free.
An app with a 10 page social story showing why it is important to have manners and treat people politely and with respect. It is available in Google Play for $2.99.
An app that helps children learn social skills by answering questions about social situations based on short video clips that show everyday scenes. It can be played alone or multi-player with up to five children. It is available in Google Play for $7.99.
Available for Apple devices, this app is made for children in elementary school and older. It allows them to create their own social stories. They can upload pictures and even record their voice to make the stories more personal. The app is free.
An app that allows users to create an unlimited number of social stories. Users can upload photos, add titles, text and audio to create different social stories. It is available for Apple devices and is $4.99.
This app has over 40 lessons on different aspects of social skills and pragmatic language. It is customizable so you can create your own lessons based on your child’s special situations. It is designed for the iPad and costs $19.99.
An app for the iPad, this program can assess your child to determine what areas your child needs to work on within social skills and then adapt lessons to your child’s needs. It is available on iTunes for $9.99.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.