By: Victoria Robbins
People with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) have impairments in social interaction, communication as well as atypical behaviors that include restricted interests and repetitive behaviors. According to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in 68 US children have autism. Because of the growing prevalence of autism spectrum disorders, it is not unusual that tech companies have developed hundreds of apps to suite the various needs required by those with ASDs.
Many people who have ASDs have trouble communicating and expressing themselves, especially those that are non-verbal. “Proloquo2Go,” an app available on iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch, is an argumentative and alternative communication app (ACA) that allows people to choose and tap symbolic images. The app then speaks whatever words go with the chosen image, ultimately forming a sentence. It can be used with people of all ages, and is available in English and Spanish for bilingual use. The price is pretty hefty ($249.99), but is described as “highly customizable” by teachers that use it, and helps teach the basics of interaction for those that have trouble communicating or are non-verbal.
Another app, “My Video Schedule,” is a useful tool to help offer predictability, consistency, and customization to those who struggle with structure, new situations, or schedules. Users are able to choose an image, and schedule the specific task into their schedule. The app also sends reminders to the users, and best of all, one can customize the schedules with any images or videos that he or she pleases. It can be used on an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch, and is only $4.99.
For those that live within the Western New York community, there are many local resources available. Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo (WCHOB) has an Autism Spectrum Disorder Center offers a comprehensive developmental, psychological, and neurological evaluation and, if necessary, an ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) type interview. Following the visit, the team of professionals determines the diagnosis and/or need for any additional testing or services. This team-based approach found at WCHOB is the only place for a medically-based, multidisciplinary evaluation and diagnosis of children with ASDs in WNY. Additionally, the ASD Center hosts monthly support groups for parents of children with ASDs; locations are listed on the Kaleida Health website. They also have a community calendar on their website which includes events for those with ASDs.
Countless number of people are impacted by ASDs and the difficulties that come with the disorder. However, with the improvement in technology and the resources available, families are able to better navigate new challenges, and receive the support they need.