July 2020 - Hidden Talents ABA

The 6 Best Headphones for Children with Autism

If you have children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), you have probably noticed that they can struggle with loud noises.

In this article we are going to explore why children on the autism spectrum may experience physical sensations like noise negatively. 

We will also look at how a good pair of headphones can help improve the quality of these children’s lives.

 

Children with Autism often have a hard time with distractions:

You probably know that people diagnosed with autism process information differently than those who don’t live on the autism spectrum. However, understanding what that means and what it looks like is another matter. 

You may notice what appears to be an extreme reaction in children on the autism spectrum in response to noises, abrupt physical sensations (like bursts of air), and consistent physical sensations that most of us fail to recognize (like the rubbing of clothing and tags within their clothing). 

Some of these responses can be due to hyper sensitivity to stimulation from the environment. Others are due to the differences in the way a person with autism experiences stimulation from the outside world. For example some children on the autism spectrum will experience a burst of air as a vibrating sound.

 

In addition to differences in how they perceive physical sensations, many people diagnosed with Autism Syndrome Disorders (ASD) experience a condition called Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

People who suffer with SPD experience their environments in a different way than others. Depending on how their brains process sensations, people with SPD may appear indifferent to pain and changes in temperature. This is due to their brains being hypo reactive to bodily sensations. Simply put, these people don’t experience the sensations as intensely as others may. On the other hand, some people dealing with SPD may experience hyper reactivity to the signals they receive from their environment. 

Regardless of the reason, people on the autism spectrum may find themselves unable to filter out the irrelevant elements their environment provides. 

They may find certain sounds, sights, and textures highly distracting. They may be unable to filter out the persistent noises that occur around them. 

 

Why Noises Create a Problem:

Autistic children who are hypersensitive to sound may:

  •       Experience a soft conversation that is taking place at some distance from them as if the conversation is being directed toward them. They will not only hear these conversations, but they will hear them with enough clarity to understand words you and I may not even hear.
  •       Experience background noises like the humming of the heating unit as a constant distraction.
  •       Experience loud or abrupt noises as confusing and even physically painful.
  •       Be unable to determine which noises are important and which are irrelevant. This inability to distinguish which noises to attend to can cause autistic children to be hypervigilant, easily distracted, and anxious. 

 

Since this is your child’s everyday experience, it is unlikely that it will even occur to them to tell you that this is happening. Just as you expect others to experience the world the same way you do, children will believe that you perceive the world the same way they do.

 

How noise cancelling headphones can help:

Noise cancelling headphones or earmuffs can allow your child to focus on the task at hand by effectively turning off the invasive noises coming from the outside world. 

The technology of these headphones can completely cancel out distractions like quiet conversations occurring in other areas of the classroom. They can also minimize the impact of abrupt or loud noises that a child with autism may find frightening. You may want to consider that:

 

  •       A good pair of noise cancelling headphones should be able to block enough of the constant noises bombarding your child’s ears to allow them to focus on the task in front of them and reduce the noises that do come through to a level that can be managed.

 The amount of noise a set of headphones cancels will be identified by the noise reduction rating (NRR) in decibels (dB). The amount of noise reduction your child requires will depend upon how sensitive he/she is to noises. Some children will need headphones with higher levels of noise reduction than others.

 

  •       A good pair of headphones should be comfortable enough to be worn throughout the day. It is ideal if you can find headphones comfortable enough to be worn to bed. This can allow your child to get a good night’s sleep.

 

  •       Aside from simply cancelling invasive noises, some headphones can also provide therapeutic sounds to mask the noises headphones fail to block. If your child struggles with feelings of anxiety, you may want a pair of headphones that provide calming sounds.

 

  •       As children on the autism spectrum can be highly sensitive to the pressure and texture of headphones, you will want to be mindful of how the headphones sit on your child’s head. Most children will prefer headphones that completely cover the ears.

 

  •       To truly cancel out noise headphones should fit tightly to your child’s head. However, the best pair of headphones for your child is one that can be comfortably worn for long periods of time. You may have to weigh the balance of comfort and noise cancellation to find the best pair of headphones for your child.

 

  •       Many children and most teens are sensitive to fashion. Headphones that are purely functional may work well for young children, but as children age you may find yourself having to make concessions to style.

 

The Best Headphones or Earmuffs for Children with Autism:

Below is a list of the best headphones/earmuffs for children with Autism.

Vic Firth Kidphones Isolation Headphones for Kids:

These well reviewed (4.5 of 5 stars) are very lightweight. Although these simple headphones do not allow for adjustment of the headband, they are designed with large well padded ear cups that rotate to accommodate a variety of head sizes. Available for $26.99 on Amazon, these no nonsense headphones provide a noise reduction rating of 22dB. Customers note that though these headphones cancel out background noise and reduce surrounding conversations to a manageable level, they do not provide sufficient noise cancelling for children who are highly sensitive to sound. The one-size-fits-all design is best suited for older children and teens.

b-Calm Headphones:

National Autism Resources b-Calm headphones retail for $139 and were specifically designed with earbuds that play “acoustic shield” soundtracks. These soundtracks provide white noise for calming. The earmuffs of the b-calm headphones were intentionally constructed for long wearing comfort. Not intended to be noise cancelling, these headphones are best used for times when a distracting level of white noise can support your child. Customers indicate that these headphones are helpful in situations like long bus rides. Though well reviewed (four of five stars) customers that expected noise cancelling headphones have expressed some frustration with the level of noise these headphones allow through.

Comfort Wear Ear Muffs:

National Autism Resources Comfort Wear Ear Muffs retail for $29.99, these earmuffs were designed for day long wear. They have a noise reduction rating of 27 decibels and feature soft foam cushioned ear muffs that will fit over your child’s ears. Customers share that these earmuffs are exceptional at reducing distressing noises like thunderstorms. Exceptionally well reviewed (five or five stars), customers indicate that these earmuffs are comfortable enough to be worn through the night. 

Banz Headphones for Babies:

Available on Amazon for $34.95, these headphones are specifically designed for children newborn to 24 months. These colorful headphones have a noise reducing rating of 31dB. With super soft padding to protect your child’s delicate ears, these well rated headphones (4.5 of 5 stars) are comfortable enough for bedtime. Customers indicate that these comfortable headphones are ideal for intrusive noises associated with firework displays and music festivals.

Muted Designer Hearing Protection for Infants and Kids:

These colorful folding headphones are designed to cover your child’s ears and feature a padded headband for increased all day comfort. These well reviewed Headphones (4.5 of 5 stars) offer a noise reduction rate of 27dB and are available on Amazon for $24.99. Made with a foldable design these headphones can be tucked in a backpack or diaper bag to travel with you anywhere. Although most customers expressed great satisfaction with these colorful headphones, some customers indicated difficulty in unfolding and placing them on young children.

Venue Active Noise Cancelling Wireless headphone from Skullcandy:

For the older child and young adults who are looking for something beyond the ordinary, Skullcandy provides a well reviewed (4.5 of 5 stars) headphone retailing at $179.99. 

Featuring a lightweight design, these headphones have soft memory foam ear cushions to conform to your child’s ears and an adjustable headband for a perfect fit. These earphones have a bluetooth range of 30m, so your child can move around even while connected to a computer or tablet. Ideal for teens and older children that want to balance enjoying their audio activities with controlling outside noise. 

These high quality headphones allow your child to control their environment while making a statement of personal style. For those with a true interest in music, it should be noted that reviews indicate that these headphones may emphasize bass sounds. Some customers also indicate that they notice a hissing when there is no audio playing. These wireless headphones can be connected to a power source when necessary.

Other Things to Consider:

Children on the autism spectrum tend to be very attached to consistency. If your child finds a pair of headphones that work well, you may want to keep a second pair on hand. If your child should lose or break the headphone that he/she has become used to, it may be difficult to locate a similar pair in a timely fashion. 

Children on the autism spectrum may find it difficult to transition to a different type of headphone due to the texture of the earmuffs, the cushioning provided by the headband, the tension of the headphone, or the amount of noise the headphones allow through.

Citation: 

 

https://positivevibesinc.com/pages/how-can-noise-cancelling-headphones-help-with-asd-and-autism
https://iancommunity.org/ssc/noise-sensitivity-autism#:~:text=Among%20children%20who%20took%20part,percent%20were%20sensitive%20to%20noise.&text=Generally%20speaking%2C%20researchers%20have%20had%20trouble%20being%20much%20more%20specific.
https://www.nationalautismresources.com/headphones/
https://www.b-calmsound.com/
https://www.skullcandy.com/shop/headphones/bluetooth-headphones/venue
https://www.nationalautismresources.com/
https://soundwiz.net/best-sensory-headphones-for-kids/
https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbes-personal-shopper/2019/01/18/skullcandy-venue-review-noise-canceling-over-ears-with-an-exciting-sound-profile/#2209f6ae4cc4

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The Atlanta ABA Therapy Guide

If your child is diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder or has experienced behavioral difficulties in school, you have probably heard of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy.

ABA therapy is a specific type of therapy that has been found helpful in improving behaviors, supporting learning, and improving outcomes for children struggling with a variety of issues. Unfortunately, understanding and locating the appropriate ABA provider for your child can be difficult.

We are going to help you by explaining the specifics of ABA therapy and by looking at the best option for ABA therapy in the Greater Atlanta Area.

What is ABA Therapy?

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) focuses on improving particular behaviors. ABA therapy may be used to help your child build social skills, learn to read, or improve any number of life skills. ABA has been effectively used with children struggling with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

An ABA therapist will work with you and your child to:

  •       Identify which of your child’s behaviors need to be changed.
  •       Develop individual goals and set expected outcomes that are specific to your child’s needs.
  •       Identify ways to measure your child’s improvements.
  •       Determine your child’s baseline. This will let you know where your child is starting from.
  •       Support your child in learning new skills and/or how to avoid problem behaviors.
  •       Help you learn to support your child’s learning and improved behaviors.
  •       Review your child’s progress.
  •       Decide if your child has other behaviors that need to improve or skills that need to be learned.

An ABA trained therapist should spend time with your child to determine his/her specific strengths and abilities as well as his/her challenges with doing a functional behavior assessment (FBA). The therapist will make observations regarding your child’s behavior, his/her communication skills, and his/her communication level. It is this assessment that will be the basis for the work your child will do in therapy.

What to Look for in an ABA Therapist:

You will want to look for an ABA therapist that is licensed or an ABA clinic that hires licensed ABA therapists. A licensed ABA therapist is a clinical therapist with additional experience and training in applied behavioral analysis.

You will notice that ABA therapists with a master’s degree, ABA training, and board certification will be identified with the initials BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) following their name.

Therapists with a doctorate degree will be identified by the initials BCBA-D.

You will also find board certified members of your ABA team that don’t hold advanced degrees. A Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) is a board certified analyst with a bachelor’s degree and additional training.

These analysts work as supportive members of an ABA team. There may also be members of your ABA team that do not hold college degrees. A BACB certified technician must hold a minimum of a high school diploma and have taken an additional 40 + hours of specialized training.

These technicians can only work under the direct supervision of an BCBA or a BCaBA. As ABA technicians must work under the supervision of a licensed provider, you want to make sure that someone on your child’s ABA team is a licensed professional.

Advantages of Home ABA Therapy:

If you have determined that ABA Therapy is right for your child, you may also want to consider whether your family would benefit from trying In-Home ABA Therapy. The goal of ABA therapy remains the same whether your child sees a therapist in a center or in your private home. ABA therapists and their team members will:

  •       Provide a detailed assessment of your child’s abilities. The difference here is that the ABA professional will provide the assessment in your home. Ideally, this will make the assessment more realistic as your child is being engaged in his/her home and not an unfamiliar space.
  •       Develop goals appropriate to your child’s needs.
  •       Select treatment methods with your child’s environment in mind. When you choose to use in-home ABA therapy, the therapist has the unique opportunity to engage parents and siblings in your child’s therapy in a more natural way.

In-home ABA therapy allows therapists to engage your child in the space where their behaviors are most likely to occur. In-home ABA therapy is particularly well suited for children who need support with daily living and household skills. However, in-home ABA therapy can also help your child with:

  •       Developing Social skills
  •       Improving Verbal behavior
  •       Learning academic information
  •       Learning skills that help them to be independent
  •       Learning skills associated with eating, self-care, toilet training, dressing, etc.
  •       Improving Family interactions (performing chores, eating out, shopping, etc.)

Finding ABA Therapy Services:

Your child’s pediatrician or your family physician is often where people find their ABA providers. Your doctor can help you determine if ABA therapy is right for your child and can write a prescription for this treatment if a prescription is required by your insurance provider. Your child’s school may also be able to provide you with the names of providers in your area.

If you have private insurance, your provider may be able to provide you with the name of ABA providers covered under your insurance. You will also find agencies that support individuals struggling with specific challenges offer connections to resources. For instance Autism Speaks offers information regarding ABA providers by age of the person seeking service and location.

The Best Atlanta Based ABA Therapy:

When it comes to ABA therapy in the Atlanta area, we at Hidden Talents ABA have set the standard.

We offer services for children from birth to the age of 12. Staffed by an experienced team of BCBA therapists, Hidden Talents ABA offers a wide range of treatment options. Whether you choose in-home or clinic based therapy, your child will be paired with a team of BCBA and ABA therapists. Hidden Talents follows a three step process. This includes:

○       1) Intake: At Hidden Talents ABA a member of the intake coordination will gather the needed information to determine eligibility and request authorization for services to cover your child’s ABA therapy,

○       2) Assessment: A Hidden Talents ABA BCBA therapist will conduct an assessment of your child’s skills and develop an individualized treatment plan taking into account your child’s school, your family, and your child’s special strengths and challenges,

○       3) Treatment: Once the treatment plan is created, your child will be paired with a team made up of BCBA and ABA therapists to support individualized treatment for your child.

Is ABA Therapy Effective for Autism?

More than 20 studies have been performed that establish intensive long-term therapy based on ABA principles improves outcomes for many children diagnosed with autism. ABA has been identified by the US Surgeon General as an evidence-based best practice treatment. This is the gold standard for therapeutic interventions. Clinical studies show that children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) can improve their intellectual functioning, language skills, social skills, and daily living skills through the use of ABA interventions. Though there are fewer studies completed on adults with ASD, those that have been done show similar results.

In 2013, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center indicated that adding home based treatment to center-based interventions for children on the autism spectrum can improve:

  •       Communication skills
  •       Play skills
  •       A child’s IQ in families that experience high levels of stress.

They also found that these services can help to:

  •       Reduce parental levels of stress
  •       Reduce parental levels of depression
  •       Increase parental levels of satisfaction and children’s outcomes

What does an ABA Session Look Like?

Your child’s first ABA session will focus on developing an individualized plan. If you are dealing with an in-home provider you can expect an ABA professional to come to your home and meet with you and your child. The professional will meet your child where he/she is and create a plan specifically designed to meet the needs of your child. What this plan entails will depend upon your child’s age, your child’s abilities, and your child’s specific needs.

After the individualized plan is developed your ABA therapy team will work with your child toward his/her specific goals. Due to the individuality of ABA plans it is virtually impossible to tell you what a session will look like. Your child’s ABA session will be guided by his/her specific needs. If your child is working on improving communication skills, your child may be engaged in work or play with a therapist where he/she is rewarded for verbalizing emotions, identifying his/her specific needs, or naming objects. If your child is working on following a new schedule, he/she may be engaged in working through specific steps of a chore or project.

Although the specifics of your child’s ABA session will be unique, you may see any of the following interventions in your child’s ABA session:

  •       Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBE): EIBI is often used with children under the age of five. This intervention involves an individualized curriculum intended to teach communication skills, social interaction, increase positive behaviors, and decrease negative behaviors like tantrums and aggression toward others. This can also be used to help children reduce behaviors that can cause harm to themselves like head banging.
  •       Pivotal Response Training (PRT): This intervention allows your child to take the lead in a learning activity. Here you will often see the therapist offering your child a set of choices.
  •       Discrete Trial Training (DTT): During DTT a therapist will work with your child in a formal learning interaction. This will likely take place at a tabletop. This aspect of the session calls for formal interaction between your child and his/her therapist. The therapist will use this time to teach specific skills. Your child may be practicing a specific verbal or social skill here, and he/she will receive feedback after each attempt.
  •       Early Start Denver Model (ESDM): This intervention involves play-based activities and incorporated working on several goals at one time. So, don’t become too concerned if your child’s therapy session looks like fun.

How do You Qualify for ABA Therapy?

Many types of private health insurance cover ABA services. To find out if your private health insurance covers ABA therapy services, you will want to contact your provider. Some providers will require a medical doctor to prescribe this therapy. Your family care provider or your child’s pediatrician will be the best person to speak to regarding whether or not your child can benefit from ABA therapy.

If your child is covered under Medicaid, you will find that all medically necessary treatments are covered for children under the age of 21. This means that so long as your child’s doctor prescribes ABA therapy for your child, Medicaid is required to cover the costs of this treatment.

Questions To Ask Your ABA Provider:

Of course, you are going to have a wide array of questions but here are a few you may want to consider asking:

  •       How much parent participation do you encourage/allow?
  •       How much training will I be provided?
  •       Will I be participating in sessions with my child?
  •       What will I be expected to implement outside of therapy to support my child’s progress?
  •       Are your analysts board certified?
  •       Is your staff required to attend ongoing training and workshops?
  •       What kind of training does your direct-level staff have before working with my child?
  •       What therapy services do you offer?
  •       What services do you offer to families?
  •       Do you provide group sessions to help children work on their social skills?
  •       What size are your groups?
  •       How will my child’s progress be monitored?
  •       How often will changes be made to my child’s treatment plan?

How Long Should ABA Therapy Last?

As with the question related to what an ABA session looks like, the answer to this question varies widely. ABA therapy can take hours each day and continue to weeks, months, or years. Although one behavior may be tackled and resolved positively, your child may need to deal with many individual behaviors or may need to learn a number of individual skills before treatment is complete.

There are several elements that can impact the amount of time your child spends in ABA therapy. Thing that impact the amount of time your child may spend in ABA therapy include:

  •       The behavior you are seeking to change or the skill your child needs to learn will have a huge impact on the amount of time ABA therapy can be expected to take. If your child requires ABA therapy to learn to read or write, he/she will generally spend more time in ABA therapy than if he/she needs to learn to follow a new schedule.
  •       Family Involvement has a large impact on the amount of time your child may spend in ABA therapy. The support of family members can decrease the amount of time your child spends in ABA therapy. However, if the family doesn’t have the time to spend reinforcing work done in therapy sessions, or if there is inconsistency in following through on therapy goals, the process can take more time.
  •       Insurance Coverage: Unfortunately, a large factor that influences the amount of time your child may spend in ABA therapy revolves around your insurance company. Some insurance coverage will limit the number of hours your client may spend in therapy a week. If the therapy must be parsed out, your child may ultimately spend more time in therapy as a task that could be resolved with intense therapy for a course of weeks may require more time if spread out over to accommodate a specific number of hours a week.

Citation:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapy-types/applied-behavior-analysis
https://www.healthline.com/health/aba-therapy#how-it-works
https://www.autismspeaks.org/applied-behavior-analysis-aba-0
https://www.appliedbehavioranalysisedu.org/in-home-care/#:~:text=Home%2Dbased%20ABA%20therapy%20provides,%2C%20eating%20out%2C%20etc.)
https://www.autismspeaks.org/applied-behavior-analysis-aba-0#:~:text=More%20than%2020%20studies%20have,for%201%20to%203%20years.
https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/addm-community-report/georgia.html
https://butterflyeffects.com/aba-therapy-providers/georgia/atlanta-georgia/
https://www.autismspeaks.org/pivotal-response-treatment-prt-0

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How Technology Can Help Children With Autism

In 2020 the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that about 1 in every 54 US children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The prevalence of this disorder makes it essential that parents, family members, and educators understand how to best support children struggling with ASD

We are going to spend some time here exploring the challenges that children on the spectrum and their parents may experience as well as how technology can be used to help these kids.

Challenges of an autistic child

Children who struggle with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) experience varying amounts of difficulty mainly in two specific areas. 

These children may experience difficulties in social interaction and communication. Additionally, they often have difficulty:

  •       Developing, maintaining, and understanding relationships
  •       Being flexible with changes in schedules
  •       Developing language skills
  •       Learning to read
  •       Comprehending what they are reading despite being able to read at the same level as their classmates
  •       Sleeping
  •       Performing tasks associated with eating and maintaining hygiene

 

The challenges of raising a child on the autism spectrum can cause parents to feel anxious, depressed, angry, and isolated. 

Luckily, research indicates that early diagnosis and the use of technology can help children diagnosed with ASD overcome the challenges that they face. 

Technology also provides a great resource for parents. Research indicates that the use of technology helps children identified as existing on the autism spectrum to improve literacy, social-communicative skills, adaptive skills, and to accurately detect the emotions of others.

In 2019 Valencia, Ruser, Quinonas, and Janet reviewed 94 studies and found that the use of technology with children diagnosed with autism is very promising.

What is assistive technology?

If your child has autism, you have no doubt heard the term assistive technology. Although this may conjure images of complex computer systems, the term actually refers to any auxiliary aid, device, or tool (no matter how complex or how simple) that allows a user with a disability to perform tasks that they would find difficult or impossible without this assistance.

Technology supports individuals with disabilities in completing daily living activities, learning information more efficiently, completing work tasks, and simply enjoying leisure time.

 

Assistive technology can be used to help your child learn to use language. You will find some language apps come with lots of pictures. There are some apps that allow you to upload pictures of your own.

 

Assistive technology can also be used to help your autistic child to improve in other areas where they experience challenges. For example, children on the autism spectrum often have difficulty identifying their feelings. Apps like “Touch and Learn” allow kids to see what specific emotions look like on the faces of other children. This particular app provides realistic photographs of young children expressing a wide range of emotions. 

When you child accesses this app, they hear a voice provide the name of an emotion. The player then sees four photographs of young children. The point of this game is to correctly identify the child expressing the emotion you have been given. If the correct photograph is chosen, the player is rewarded with a large green checkmark.

 

Technology that can help autistic children with communication:

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

This is a particular type of assistive technology that helps people with autism by promoting independence and increasing social interactions and improving communication. AAC can help your child communicate his/her needs. When using AAC apps with your child, you will want to first model the use of the device. In the beginning, you will want to reward your child for using the device even if you are unsure of what the child is trying to tell you.

 

Once you have your child constantly using the device, you will want to reward the child for communicating with the device. For example, early on, you will want to provide a reward for the child playing with the AAC. After the child is used to playing with the device, you will want to begin being more selective about rewards. If you ask your child to use the AAC to tell you want they want for dinner, you will only want to reward responses that answer that question, for example.

 

Slowly, you will want to move to rewarding your child for communicating in more and more complicated ways. This encourages your child to develop more complex ways of communicating with you.

 

Perhaps the most obvious use of technology for children diagnosed with autism, is to provide help with communication skills. There are many apps available that support nonverbal individuals in making their needs known. You will find a long list of apps that can help your child learn to create multi word sentences. You will also find many apps that help your child identify letters and letter sounds to support the learning of reading skills.

 

Generally, when we talk about communication skills, we tend to forget that more than half of what we communicate is done without words. Subtle nonverbal communication like facial expressions and body language are difficult for autistic children to pick up on. 

However, you will find a variety of apps that can help your child with this aspect of communication also. There are several apps that help autistic children with strong verbal skills, learn to identify different emotions using photographs or drawings. This will help your autistic child learn how to read nonverbal communication and will help them develop healthy social interactions.

 

Prologue2Go:

This is identified as one of the top options for improving language skills. The app allows for a great deal of personalization. Settings and displays can be customized to support your child’s motor skill level as well as visual needs. Prologue2Go also allows you to have words sounded out with different accents to accommodate your specific needs.

Touch and Learn:

This app provides realistic photographs of young children expressing a wide range of emotions. Children can make identifying emotions a game. When you child accesses this app, he/she will hear a voice name and emotion. Four photographs of young children flash on the screen. The point of this game is to identify the face expressing the emotion that was named. If the correct photograph is chosen, the player is rewarded with a large green checkmark.

Otsimo:

For parents looking for assistive games, Otsimo offers a fun and engaging alternative. Otsimo offers an easy-to-use interface with buttons that provide image-words, When your child hits the button, he/sh will hear the word spoken. This app uses bright engaging images and allows your child to play a variety of games that support the learning of vocabulary. Games include puzzles, drawing games, matching games, and learning new sound games for varied play.

Technology that can help autistic children with Modeling Behaviors:

Children on the autism spectrum often have more difficulty with novel activities that other children do. They often don’t pick up on the unwritten rules that accompany new situations. Parents will find that using technology to model the steps for a new activity can help their child build confidence and reduce feelings of anxiety. Whether your child is preparing for a first trip to the library or an airplane ride, technology can help them develop a better understanding of the process.

Model Me Going Places:

This app provided illustrations and instructions to help autistic children understand the unwritten rules that accompany many everyday situations.

Social Adventures:

This app teaches relationship behaviors in an 8-week social skills awareness program. Designed by parents for children with ASD this app helps your child learn much needed skills like how to initiate a conversation. 

Technology that can help autistic children with Scheduling:

Choiceworks:

Available for ipad, iphone, and ipod, this app offers your child a scheduler that presents tasks in sequential order. Choiceworks provides visual indicators of which tasks have been completed and can help your child feel accomplished by working through what may otherwise seem like an overwhelming number of steps to complete a task. This app is good for helping children develop new schedules for anything from bedtime to schoolwork and can be used to help children soothe when waiting or when they feel out of control of their emotions. This app can be useful in helping your child understand how to establish and meet goals. 

Technology that can help autistic children with Motivation:

Children on the autism spectrum enjoy computer games as much as other kids. You will find that there are a great many games out there that can help your child build cognitive skills while at play. These apps are a great addition to the parenting arsenal. Apps with learning games are a great reward for children on the autism spectrum. Whether you are using these apps to motivate your child to complete daily chores or to learn a new skill, your children will love it when you use these educational apps as a reward.

Zoolingo:

This app was designed specifically for children on the autism spectrum. Zoolingo offers a variety of learning games. Your child will be readily engaged in puzzle games, pop the balloon game, games using nursery rhymes, shapes games, and a game where they are asked to match emotions with facial expressions.

Technology that can help autistic children with Social Skill Development:

Children diagnosed with ASD often lack social skills that build a sense of belonging in traditional classrooms and social groups. Children on the autism spectrum may not follow social norms like waiting their turn, looking the person they are speaking to in the eye, etc. Luckily, these skills can be learned with repetition and patience.

Look in My Eyes Restaurant:

This app engages your child in a series of social skills like practicing making eye contact.

Autism Express:

This free app uses gentle encouragement to help children master everyday social cues. This app will help your child recognize and practice facial expressions.

 

Ways parents can use technology to help with their autistic child’s daily activities:

People on the spectrum experience difficulties in developing communication and socialization skills. A child with autism may have difficulty communicating both verbally and non-verbally. They may have difficulty relating to others. They may have a pattern of repetitive behavior, and they may have difficulty being flexible with changes in schedules. Luckily, parents of children on the autism scale can find a wide range of technological devices and apps to help their children learn skills that don’t come naturally for them.

 

To support your autistic child, you may want to:

Use Devices and Apps That Improve Quality of Life:

Dreampad is a music app that looks like a pillow. This device/app creates gentle vibrations and calming music that lulls your child to sleep. Improved sleep patterns can help your child control feelings of anxiety. Ultimately, better sleep can lead to less stressful days for both you and your child.

Use Your Device as a Reward:

Children diagnosed with autism are often very interested in computers and technology. This means that ipads, cellphones, and computer games are wonderful rewards for completing tasks.

Use Technology as a Model:

Children with ASD often experience anxiety when faced with new situations. Using apps that help your child break down and understand new spaces and activities will help them to control their anxiety levels and great new scenarios with more confidence.

Teach Through Game Play:

Research has found that technology is a great way to support learning for your child regardless of his/her abilities. This is partly due to the fact that using technology as a teaching tool engages many of your child’s senses. Learning apps use bright colors and lights for visual stimulation. They use sounds and words for auditory learning. Your child will push buttons, drag tiles, or slide objects engaging his/her sense of touch. The other wonderful thing about apps is that they can be repeated over and over again. So, if your child requires repetition to learn new skills, technology is a consistent teacher that will never get tired of the same lesson. 

 What to look for in an app for your autistic child:

Regardless of whether or not you have good technology skills you will most likely want to look for:

Apps that Offer Some Customizability:

You will find many apps that allow you to add your own photographs to visual displays to help engage your child. Other apps will offer you the opportunity to choose the speed or the accent that verbal information is provided in. Although it isn’t necessary that an app be customizable, you may find that having pictures of favorite toys and people is very engaging for your child.

Apps With Pop Up Reminders:

If you are using an app to help your child maintain a schedule, you will want to look for an app that will provide pop-up reminders for special tasks.

Apps That Are Easy to Use:

You will want to make sure that the apps you are considering are easy for your child to use. Some apps have buttons and visual elements that are customizable so a child with visual challenges or poor fine motor skills can use them as easily as children without these particular challenges.

Other Things to Consider:

When you are looking at technology to support your child’s learning, you are going to want to consider issues associated with safety, price, and accessibility. You will want to consider whether to invest in a computer, a pad, or some other smart device.

Accessibility:

If your child is young or has difficulties with fine motor skills, it may be best to use a device with a touch screen. Luckily, there are many devices that now feature touch screens. You can find laptop computers, desktop computers, pads, and phones that feature touch screen technology.

Use:

Is your child going to be using this technology outside of the home? Does the device need to be lightweight? If your child needs a portable device, you are going to want to be sure that it isn’t too bulky to be easily transported. On the other hand, you are going to want to be sure the device isn’t so small that it can be easily lost. If the device is traveling back and forth to school, you may also want to pay attention to the length of battery life and the ease of recharging.

Hardware Features:

You are going to want to think about who will need to have access to the device you are looking at. You may want to consider whether the device offers parental controls to allow you to prevent unauthorized access to inappropriate websites.

Displays:

You will want to make sure that the sound level of the device you are considering allows your child to hear the spoken word elements apps may offer. You will also want to make sure that the visual display is large enough and bright enough for your child to see all of the elements he/she will need to be able to see. If you are using a phone with a small display to identify emotions in an array of photographs, the size of the visual display may create an unnecessary challenge.

 

Although there are a lot of choices associated with how to use technology with your autistic child, this is an adventure that you and your ASD child should embrace. You will find that there are many free apps that can get you started. If you find that your child responds well to learning with technology, you can find apps designed with your child’s specific needs in mind. Whether your child needs help making his/her needs known, or you simply want an app to help your child remember what tasks he/she needs to complete at bedtime, you will find an app to make both of your lives just a little bit easier.  

 

 

Citation:

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