AutisMate: A New App for Individuals with Autism

This is a post in the weekly Autism Hopes series by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez, a mom who blogs over at AutismWonderland.

A few weeks ago in an effort to get my seven-year-old son, Norrin, settled into a routine, we (our amazing therapist) created a visual schedule. It’s been so helpful for  us that I was thinking of creating schedules for other parts of our day – after school, bedtime, weekends. But I’m as crafty as Norrin’s therapist and it’s just one more thing on my never ending to do list. So when I was asked to review AutisMate, a new app for the iPad, I immediately said yes!

AutisMate is an iPad app that is designed to overcome the developmental challenges associated with autism by utilizing a more comprehensive, holistic approach that emphasizes the interconnected issues of communication and behavioral skills together.

Jonathan Izak, founder of AutisMate, collaborated with over 300 special educators, tech experts, clinicians and parents to create the app.  However, Izak, was inspired by his younger brother Oriel who is autistic and nonverbal. Empathetic to the frustrations individuals with autism may have, Izak describes his brother as “someone yearning to communicate with the outside world.” The AutisMate is designed to help alleviate those frustrations. More importantly, AutisMate can be personalized to suit individual needs and to grow with the user.

Within minutes of downloading AutisMate, I was immediately impressed. It is so user friendly and offers plenty of help along the way. The “My House” menu features several rooms in a house. One of the many cool things about this app, is that you can upload pictures of rooms in your own home to replace the default photos. You can also download additional scenes like “My Pets,” “Dining Room” or “The Park.” And since the AutisMate is GPS enabled – you can create your own scenes.

The Kitchen is one of my favorite rooms. Norrin likes to click on the hands by the sink – a video of someone washing their hands pops up.

We are really working on toothbrushing – this scene will be helpful for us. By clicking on the toothbrush a video pops up of a little boy brushing his teeth.

On the bottom right corner of each scene there is a  ”1 2 3 star” – by clicking on that, the visual scheduler appears – another of my favorite features! The “Brushing teeth” visual schedule even has a timer to show kids how long they should be brushing. After checking off each step, they work until they reach their reward (goal). Again, you are able to create your own visual schedules and customize it with your own photos.

The sentence builder will be especially useful for individuals who are not only non-verbal but for those who want to expand their vocabulary. By clicking on each picture, you can create a sentence and have the sentence repeated to you.

I’m not tech savvy at all, but this was easy enough for me to navigate and figure out. And I’m excited to create new schedules for Norrin and incorporate this into his daily routine. Norrin has been having fun with it too and the toothbrushing schedule and video is really helping us. This is something I could see us using for years.

The app is available via iTunes App Store for $149.99 and while it is on the more expensive side – it’s truly an investment and one that will grow as your child grows.

 

Disclaimer: I was provided with a complimentary app for review, all opinions are my own

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