Best iPad Apps for Adults with Autism

Computers are often an effective way to facilitate communication and learning among individuals with autism — and iPads are no exception.

Due to an increase in diagnosed cases of autism, software and hardware dedicated to individuals with autism have been developed for several decades. This paved the way for the development of supportive technology, including telehealth systems and everyday apps.

With so many apps available, individuals with autism can gain support in an accessible, controlled environment. This encourages greater independence and can reduce feelings of anxiety.

Since symptoms vary widely from one individual to the next, it’s important to invest in autism apps that are best suited for your needs — or the needs of your loved one. Whether you’re searching for time management, relaxation, or communication apps, there are dozens of options to choose from.

How iPad Apps Support Adults with Autism

Technology and the use of electronic applications continue to rise within home and school settings, particularly among children with autism.

In 2010, the Apple iPad (and similar tablets) encouraged the use of technology-mediated education, helping children with autism based on the device’s touch screen interface and portability. Research shows that the use of iPad apps can significantly improve an individual’s ability to communicate.

Based on this research, it is recommended that parents and practitioners choose software that is most likely to be effective. When selecting autism apps, there are five factors to consider.

  1. Apps should be based on scientific principles and/or be supported by empirical research.
  2. Apps should enable the creation of customized visual supports using the iPad’s camera. This can help improve the specificity of an individual’s ability to communicate.
  3. Consider the motor skills required to engage with the chosen app.
  4. Be mindful of the time and resources needed to teach an individual with autism how to operate a given app.
  5. Affordability is also important. However, low-cost apps are not often supported by empirical research, lacking the full range of functionality required by individuals with autism.

While the bulk of this research has been conducted in children, adults with autism can also significantly benefit from iPad apps. Many apps support the everyday needs of those with autism.

Research has shown that individuals with autism are strong visual learners. It has also been reported that following high school and up to eight years later, only 17% of adults with autism live independently. This is why autism apps are so beneficial. They promote ongoing learning, helping individuals complete daily tasks while promoting the ongoing development of key life skills.

The best iPad apps for adults with autism focus on the specific needs of each individual. The following apps will provide support day-to-day, encouraging greater independence. From habit-building apps to mood trackers, here are some of the options available.

The Best iPad Apps That Develop Habits, Routines, and Time Management

Habitica

Using gamification, Habitica motivates users to build habits and become more productive. When you complete good habits or avoid bad habits, you get points! Although this app was not specifically developed for individuals with autism, and now has a community of over 4 million people, many individuals with autism respond well to this app’s reward system. Being a role-playing game, you can develop your character, altering their appearance and abilities. Start with a task such as “brush my teeth” to improve that part of your daily routine. This app is free to download.

Routinely

Routinely is an app that will help you establish, track, and be more mindful of your daily routine. Set your personalized goals and then track the completion of those goals. Notifications can be sent to remind you to complete your goals and you can review your recent history. Each day, you will see your goals listed, organized into two categories — upcoming and completed. Choose from a library of suggestions or create your own custom goals across topics such as chores, work, wellness, and nutrition. This app is free to download.

Work Autonomy

This app was developed specifically developed for individuals with disabilities, Work Autonomy focuses on three key areas:

  • Person-generated communication with co-workers and supervisors
  • Tracking task analysis and work schedules
  • Accessing information about work expectations, earnings, and production
    • Each of these sections can be edited using video, text, voice, or photo content to meet the needs of the user. This app costs $189.99m with 5% of proceeds going to charity.

      Related: Autism Employment Opportunities for Adults

      Time Timer

      Time Timer is an award-winning app that helps individuals with autism manage time more effectively. Using different colors, functions, and alter options, you can customize your timers, allowing you to better differentiate between the activities involved. There are many products associated with Time Timer, including a physical timer that is backed by clinical research. The Time Timer iPad app is free to download.

      Best iPad Apps for Mood Tracking

      Mood Panda

      Mood Panda will track your moods using calendars and graphs for greater visual understanding. For individuals with autism, this app is something they can discuss with a therapist/psychologist, creating strategies that improve outcomes.

      For those who wish to interact with others online, there is also a large community available to offer support and advice. Simply rate your feelings on a scale of 1-10. Although this app offers many benefits, it is often recommended to those who change their medications (or medication doses). This app is free.

      Other options include:

      • AutismXpress

      Best iPad Sensory Apps

      Offering a range of sensory apps, Sensory App House focuses on stimulation, learning, art, relaxation, and speech therapy. Some of the available sensory apps include:

      • SandBox
      • Mesmo
      • Stellar
      • Lava

      All the above apps are free.

      Miracle Modus

      When experiencing sensory overload, Miracle Modus can help by providing strong visual stimuli that move in predictable patterns. Some individuals find these patterns very soothing. The use of lights and sounds in varying configurations help users enter a calm state in overwhelming situations. This app is free.

      Best iPad Relaxation & Meditation Apps for Adults with Autism

      Headspace

      Oftentimes, adults with autism struggle to cope with stress and anxiety. This is where meditation and mindfulness may help. Headspace is designed to guide you through narrated sessions, helping you relax. There are various components to this app, including a sleep feature. Since individuals with autism are more prone to insomnia, this app can encourage a more restful night’s sleep. You may try this app for free and then it is $89.99 annually ($7.50/month) per year or $17.99/month.

      Other options include:

      Best iPad Communication Apps for Adults with Autism

      MyTalk Tool Mobile AAC

      MyTalk Tool Mobile AAC is available to download to iPads, helping individuals with autism communicate through images or words. You can choose if you use pictures, words, or speech to communicate, allowing for greater control and independence. Personalization is also possible, as users can add their photos which encourages greater organization skills. It is currently being used by over 100,000+ users and costs a one-time fee of $99.99.

      Pictello

      Pictello is a creative app that allows individuals with autism to share their experiences with others. It can also be used to help prepare individuals for unfamiliar or stressful situations, such as going to a doctor’s appointment or going somewhere new. Simply create a story, adding images, text, and sound. Users can even record themselves to enhance communication. Voices are available in 35 languages and dialects. This app can be purchased for a one-time fee of $18.99.

      iCommunicate

      With iCommunicate, you can create storyboards, schedules, speech cards, routines and more. Since users can record their voices, many individuals with autism find this a comforting feature. Caregivers can also record their voice for the individual with autism to listen to later. Over time, this app can help users become more confident in their communication skills. Another great feature is the ability to utilize text-to-speech with 20 voice options, including Spanish, Swedish, Italian, and Canadian French. This app costs a one-time fee of $49.99.

      Other options include:

      How the Adult Autism Center Can Help

      The first of its kind, the Adult Autism Center offers hands-on learning and ABA therapy for individuals with autism.

      We offer a range of programs, we give adults with autism the tools and resources they need to thrive. Day programs such as social and leisure skills, vocational training, and home living, promote greater independence, allowing individuals to become the best version of themselves.

      Working with individuals on a one-to-one basis means that they benefit from a more personable, customized approach.

      If you’re seeking ongoing education and support, please contact us to discuss the next steps!

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