Autism Apps

I recently watched a TED talk given by a young woman with Asperger's, Alix Generous. She co-founded a tech company called Autism Sees. They developed an app, “Podium", which helps people on the spectrum improve their communication skills. I watched their presentation online and decided to download "Podium" to try it out for myself. The app is sets up a mock job interview in which it asks its user/ candidate questions commonly asked by a potential employer. It takes a video recording of the user giving their answers and then allows them to play it back and score themselves on pragmatics such as eye contact and tone of voice. I found that the ability to observe and rate my pragmatics on the spot provided immediate and useful feedback. After trying this app out, I decided to research a couple of other apps.

Next I looked at "Autism Pro". This app allows parents, educators, and people on the spectrum to track daily behaviors, moods, health and conditions in the environment around them. Through a series of charts and graphs created from the daily data, one can see the correlations of various factors that contribute to the behavior. This makes it easier to develop effective treatments. I also found an app called "Making Friends", a companion to the book The Science of Making Friends: Helping Socially Challenged Teens and Young Adults by Elizabeth Laugeson. It is an electronic handbook with rules and steps for making and keeping friends. This enables people with ASD to reference social rules and guidelines at a moment's notice if they are ever in doubt. These apps are dramatically impacting the treatment of Autism.

When I first started receiving services from the Koegel Autism Center, they used video modeling to teach me social and communication skills. At the time this was very cutting edge. Video modeling involved me having a conversation with a clinician or peer mentor while being filmed. Together we watched the video and I got feedback from my clinician. Today, technology has taken that idea of video feedback and made it accessible via apps like "Podium" that can be downloaded on an electronic device and do not involve the time or expense of one-on-one clinicians. This makes interventions more accessible. These technological advances will likely be mainstays of the treatment of autism in the future.