Tens of millions of children suffer from autism and related conditions. Many of these complex brain disorders are characterized by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.

Now, some app developers are taking creative approaches to help autistic individuals improve speech, recognize facial expressions and regulate their own behaviors. As part of our Life-Changing Apps series, we highlight three apps aimed at helping Autistic children:

Sosh

Sosh is a mobile app that intends to help individuals with Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, improve social skills. It focuses on five essential abilities: helping the user relate, relax, reason, regulate and recognize. For example, the Shredder feature allows users to type a troubling thought and virtually shred it to relieve stress. Additionally, the Facial Expressions Gallery helps the user identify emotions by displaying a series of different expressions. Lastly, the Voice Meter tells users if they are speaking at the right volume.


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Smile at Me

Some children with Autism find it difficult to smile at the proper times. Smile at Me teaches children how to react to certain situations by playing a simple game: Players hold the iPhone like a mirror and are shown pictures. A picture may or may not call for a smile. Then, players are asked to form their mouths into the correct shape – to smile or not to smile – based on the picture.

The Smile at Me system of rewards is also special. When players answer correctly, they are rewarded with a star while incorrect answers result in verbal support to try again. After four stars are awarded, the players get to visit a virtual zoo. In the zoo, players interact with animated animals and practice more social skills with virtual friends!


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iAssist Communicator

If your child or someone you know has difficulty communicating, iAssist Communicator is designed for individuals with Autism and other developmental disabilities. This app helps Autistic individuals by incorporating large photos and functional language.


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Autism can be difficult to deal with, but these apps take steps to make that process a little bit easier. If you know someone who has used these apps, we’d be interested in feedback!