Welcome to iAutism. Here you will find information on apps for tablets and smartphones that have been developed for people with ASD and other special needs. You will also find book reviews, news and some advice on technology.
Over 600 iPad/iPhone/iPod touch apps suitable for people with ASD and other special needs. Go to the list
Over 200 apps for Android devices also suitable for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other special needs. Go to the list
Reviews of books on ASD and other special needs, from novels to scientific texts. Go to the list
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In part, this book is the second edition of one with a very similar title published in 1991 by Dr. Reichle and several of his doctoral students. Two decades later, history repeats itself, this time with a much longer list of much more experienced coauthors.
In short, this book provides methods of implementing strategies from ACC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication), always combining great academic rigor with a high level of practicality. Its audience is special education professionals and speech therapists who work with people with severe learning disabilities (including, but not limited to, autism).
The authors aren’t providing a unique method, but a combination of procedures, based on proven scientific and empirical evidence, that help practical implementation of the AAC in many ways.
The first chapter focuses on how small children in general become active communicators. The second chapter explains the main types of AAC and how to select the most appropriate one for each case. Hence, it talks about the use of real pictures, various types of pictograms, or communicating with gestures, providing rules and recommendations for choosing among these options, and answering questions about whether using these methods affect the development of verbal language.
Chapters 3 and 4 present the different systems of AAC, including non-electronic ones, and explain the main points of value in each AAC system. This book doesn’t focus solely on autism, so you will find many references here to systems based on scanning and light switches, for example.
The first part of the book, devoted to laying down the groundwork for intervention, ends with three chapters centered on learning strategies (different types of aid, reinforcement, etc.), on defining the strength of the intervention and educational context most suitable for each case, and on how to monitor student performance.
The second part of the book is dedicated to establishing functional communication. It begins by explaining how to show a student the relationship between written symbols and objects or events, including recommendations about how to generalize and about the physical properties of the symbols, making reference to the well-known PECS method. It continues on about how to establish functional communication that is effective for accessing objects or activities or for rejecting a suggestion, making an alternative one, or asking for a break or help.
Chapter 11 focuses on strategies for beginning, maintaining, and concluding a social interaction. The twelfth is about using AAC to strengthen oral communication with the disabled person so as to help them understand your communication. An example of this is the visual planning that is used to explain the steps to follow in order to complete a stated task. The final chapter explores AAC as a method to support people who are able to communicate orally but with difficulty.
Bridge between research and practice
The book’s structure really helps to build bridges between research and practice. Each chapter begins with an introduction, its intended objectives, and a list of key words. The chapter’s content follows, which includes many small sections with tips, vocabulary, and basic principles, or boxes labeled “What does the research say?” that summarizes studies or academic articles related to the topic being discussed, always presenting supportive scientific evidence. Also abundant are instructions about steps to take when applying a certain strategy, and case reviews that are examples of these strategies. Each chapter ends with a summary and an extensive bibliography.
So many resources can make it seem exhausting, but what it actually does is to present well-thought-out and proven methods, and a lot of information about how to apply them in practice. All of this, and the amount of content explained, makes this work a very valuable contribution to the field of AAC.
On September 26th I was invited by Autism Europe to participate in their 10th Autism-Europe International Congress, and more specifically in a workshop about technologies for autism. They are going to publish all the presentations showed there, including some by people who are very well known in the field, such as Francesca G. Happe, Joaquin Fuentes, Rita Jordan, Ros Blackburn, Sally Rogers, Sven Bolte, Theo Peters and many others, but I share my presentation here now. I also take this opportunity to thank the Orange Foundation who proposed my participation and for their vast program of initiatives related to autism.
There are many apps for working on emotions, but to a great extent they are focused only on showing people’s faces and asking about their emotions. Emotion Detective is one of the few that goes further to offer a wider range of exercises and activities related to emotions that include working with diverse social situations.
The app begins by asking for a photo and the name of the detective and which of the four scenarios that Emotion Detective includes they want to work with: space, ocean, train or farm. Something has happened in each scenario, and the “detective” will have to pass through a series of activities or games to solve the case.
The activities are varied and are generally centered around working with emotions, although their relationship with the case to be solved is incidental. In other words, the “detective” is just there to give a little flair to the app. To a large extent, the activities are only explained orally (in English). The volume of the background music, sound effects and explanations can be adjusted separately.
Regarding the activities themselves, they include:
– Displaying cards with faces of real people expressing emotions while they read and hear the associated emotion
– Selecting the face that shows the emotion from among four images
– The same, but with cartoony faces
– Taking pictures of a real person expressing certain emotions
– Finger-painting on one of those photos
– Selecting the most appropriate phrase for a social situation among children
– Listening to a conversation between characters and selecting the right emotion that one of them will feel
Also, from time to time an activity to find objects amid a room full of toys will appear. When the last toy is found, the case is solved.
The activities of Emotion Detective are themselves quite simple, with a rather limited repertoire of images and scenes. There are also no visual aids in case of error, and the positive feedback is rather small.
Somewhere between a pure-emotions app and one of social situations, the value of Emotion Detective comes rather from the four scenarios and the variety of activities, resulting overall in spending enough time with the app without getting bored always doing the same thing.
Finally, turning off the sound of the oral explanations makes the app more or less usable in other languages with the help and prior preparation of an adult.
- Francesc Sistach
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