Kathryn M. Daly, MA, BCBA, LBA
Association for Science in Autism Treatment
and Karen Yosmanovich MEd, BCBA, LBS
At the time of the publication of this article, we are approaching 7 months of remote education and therapy delivery followed by limited in-school learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, parents and educators are seeking innovative ways to connect with students and make meaningful progress towards educational goals. On a positive note, with recent technological advances, we are now in a better position than ever to teach children digitally. Below is a non-exhaustive list of apps, which may have some value in teaching new skills, promoting application of existing skills, addressing challenging behavior, and connecting parents with support systems to get through this unprecedented time.
This list of apps should be viewed as a set of tools which can be utilized by parents and teachers; however, no single tool here is absolutely essential to a students’ learning and some parents may prefer to use a less technological approach. Further, this list contains apps from many different domains and many different developers, all of whom may have varying perspectives on educating students on the autism spectrum. Inclusion in this list does not necessarily indicate that evidence exists on its use. We at ASAT recommend that to maintain a commitment to science-based treatment, these (and any) apps can be incorporated into existing treatment plans to supplement activities, and data should always be collected throughout the use of each app. With the guidance of their team of providers, parents should collect data on target skill acquisition, degree of carry over, nature of specific errors, as well as operationally defined challenging behaviors for reduction. It would also be important to decide if the app is being used to target acquisition versus retention or generalization of skills.
Autism Apps iOS Free
Autism Apps is a comprehensive list of apps utilized by learners with autism which can be found on the app store. It lists apps by category and there is a search function. App listings contain a detailed description, price, and links to any additional information that might be relevant, including evidence of effectiveness which is appreciated by us here at the Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT).
Autism Tracker Lite iOS Free
An essential ingredient to any successful ABA program is data collection. Autism Tracker enables caretakers to quickly and easily access a data collection system from their own device. These data are also available in graphical format in order to make data-driven intervention decisions.
Autism Tracker Pro iOS $9.99
Autism Tracker Pro is a paid version of Autism Tracker Lite (above) with the added benefit of a limitless ability to add learners and track behaviors.
First Then Visual Schedule iOS $14.99
The First Then Visual Schedule is an app that increases the portability of visual activity schedules. Activity schedules are great tools for increasing independence in learners. They are versatile in that they can be adapted to include any number of activities including leisure skills, vocational skills, and self-help skills. They also can contribute to improved transitions between activities. Users can select from pictures or videos, and create a variety of schedules or choice boards. This app is a great tool for caregivers who utilize activity schedules and would like to be able to do so outside of the home.
Preference and Reinforcer Assessment iOS $9.99
Preference and reinforcer assessments are vital aspects of any effective applied behavior analysis program, lending scientific clarity to the process of choosing reinforcers and assessing how effective they are. The Preference and Reinforcer Assessment app helps both parents and practitioners to quickly assess the reinforcing value of various stimuli. Having knowledge of relative preference for various reinforcers is essential to planning effective interventions for skill building and maladaptive behavior reduction.
Choice Works iOS $9.99
Choice Works is a great app for those who are experienced with or are learning to utilize visual schedules. It not only contains images to create unique schedules, but users also have the option to upload their own images. Additionally, the app includes a waiting board to help in teaching delays to reinforcement and alternative options, and a feelings board including a feelings scale. This app is incredibly versatile and can help children to adapt to changing environments.
Time Timer iOS and Android Free
Timers are an important tool in behavior analytic interventions and data collection. The Time Timer app combines the functions of a stopwatch with a visual representation of the time remaining. It allows users to create their own schedules with corresponding visual timers. When paired with other effective behavioral principles, it can be used to help individuals with autism to follow schedules, to effectively teach the skill of waiting, and to improve transitions between activities.
Happy Kids Timer Chores iOS and Android Free
Happy Kids Timer Chores is another app that supports independence through the use of visual schedules. This app seeks to gamify morning and evening self-help and hygiene routines by including timers and (potential) rewards for successful completion within an allotted time. This app would be improved by a data collection and analysis feature.
Articulation Station iOS Free
Articulation Station was created by a Speech-Language Pathologist with the intention of effectively teaching or improving pronunciation of consonant letter sounds. It features games to target articulation and it utilizes the device’s microphone to assess appropriate articulation and collects data on correct responses. One caveat is that, while the app is advertised as free, only one target letter (p) is included in the free version. Other targets need to be purchased.
One Minute Articulation iOS and Android Free
Fluency is a skill in ABA which is frequently overlooked by practitioners and parents. One Minute Articulation consists of both practice and tests targeting the skill of articulating letter sounds. The app records a child’s data during the testing phase including both accuracy and latency to respond. It is a helpful tool for teaching individuals to respond quickly and with good articulation. While the app is listed as being free, only one letter target comes with the app. The user must purchase additional targets.
Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT) is a common feature of ABA programs in which a stimulus (question, direction, visual) is provided and the student is allowed time to make a response. The Autism DTT apps consist of some of the most common stimuli taught in early learner programs. While it is limited to only the categories listed, it is a useful app for teaching receptive identification skill and for introducing early learners to DTT.
iCommunicate iOS $49.99
Although this list places emphasis on apps costing below $25, iCommunicate was included because it presents a less expensive alternative to the other commonly used Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) apps. It contains fewer icons, and allows for the user to create custom icons for use. Another feature which differentiates this app from other AAC apps is the ability to create schedules from the icons. Schedules and visual prompts are various antecedent strategies which can help with compliance and reduce interfering behaviors.
ABA Flashcards and Games iOS $0.99
Understanding emotions is a valuable skill which is often challenging to teach individuals with autism. ABA Flashcards and Games helps to teach emotions with a large library of pictures. This can help teach children with autism to generalize the skill of identifying a person’s emotions based on facial features. While a data collection and analysis feature would elevate this app further, its potential for use in multiple exemplar training is incredibly valuable.
Learn Sight Words iOS Free
While many of our students are making the shift from in-person to remote learning, it is difficult to address certain skills with the same rigor as in the classroom. Learn Sight Words is an app which displays over 300 commonly used sight words one at a time. The app also pronounces the words for the child when needed and flags words which are commonly incorrect. This app is a great tool, but it would benefit from a data collection function.
StepByStep Sequencing iOS Free
Sequencing is a challenging skill set which requires a learner to break down complex tasks into small steps in a specified order. Understanding the sequence of events is an important prerequisite skill for identifying cause and effect, identifying problems, and problem solving. StepByStep Sequencing contains exercises for teaching specific Activities of Daily Living (ADL) skill sequences which are highly functional for individuals with autism, both children and adults.
Kids Balloon Pop Language iOS and Android Free
Kids Balloon Pop Language is an app that gamifies receptive language learning skills for children. The app can help to teach children various colors, shapes, numbers and letters. It also boasts customization features for all types of learners including eliminating distracting background images and increasing stimulus size for better visual discrimination. A data collection feature would be a beneficial addition to this app.
Educreations iOS Free
Educreations is a valuable tool for educators in the age of remote learning. It simulates and allows sharing of a virtual whiteboard, helping teachers and students to interact and illustrate examples in real-time. Virtual lessons are challenging in that each user’s range of sight is severely limited, however, having a real-time whiteboard to use can help to focus students’ attention. While the basic version of the product is free, improved features and more potential users do cost extra.
Quizlet iOS and Android $23.49
Quizlet is an app that allows parents or teachers to create and assign flashcards to use in studying a topic. All flash cards are customizable to assist with studying terms for all levels of learners. Quizlet live also allows for competition between learners in a virtual classroom format.
Kahoot iOS and Android Free for students
Kahoot, an app primarily for educators, is an extremely valuable tool for remote learning. It allows educators to create content for lessons and quizzes and also affords educator-student and within-student interactions. It is a web-based program, however, once the content is created and shared with students, it can be accessed from an app. It also boasts an analytics feature in order to assess individual students’ and class progress.
Plickers iOS and Android Free
Plickers is another quiz-based app that allows educators to customize content. It allows for group access and engagement, but with individual responses and progress reporting, which are important features for distance learning success.
Boom Learning iOS and Android Free
Boom Learning is a web-based program which can be accessed via an app once a teacher or learner signs up. It features “decks” which consist of slides of material and/or quiz questions. Teachers are able to create their own decks or access already created decks on many subjects. While some decks do cost money, many are free. There are certain analytic features in the app including data on accuracy and fluency when decks are assigned to students.
Edpuzzle iOS and Android Free
Edpuzzle allows educators to videotape lessons for students to access remotely. Students can re-watch the videos as often as necessary and teachers can post assignments with due dates. This app also allows teachers to embed study and quiz questions into the video lessons.
Math Board iOS $4.99
Math Board helps to teach and assess math skills through step-by-step lessons and quizzes. The quizzes are suitable for all levels of learner, utilizing multiple choice, matching, and written answers. Math Board collects data on learners’ accuracy and fluency to assess progress.
TeachMe Bundle iOS $7.99
The TeachMe Bundle includes several different apps corresponding to a child’s grade from preschool through grade three. Each app features many age appropriate educational activities including reading, writing, and math skills. An interesting feature of these apps is that each includes built-in fun activities as potential reinforcers for completing academics. The app also incorporates a data collection tool for parents and teachers to keep track of their learners’ progress.
Autism Parents Support iOS and Android Free
Autism Parents Support is a type of social media app which connects parents of children with disabilities including autism. It has information about diagnoses and symptoms, and it can connect parents based on those specific features. It is important, however, that parents remain vigilant, as there is no requirement for scientific evidence of effectiveness when parents make recommendations to each other.
Autism Parenting Magazine iOS and Android Free with subscription
Autism Parenting Magazine is a well-known publication consisting of expert advice, therapy descriptions, and anecdotes from autism families. Access to the magazine subscriptions via an app is a valuable tool for parents who may also be juggling the responsibilities of assisting their children in remote learning. It is again important that parents approach all testimonials and anecdotes with a critical eye and rely on knowledge of evidence-based treatments.
Autism Early Intervention App Android Free
Scientific research tells us that early intervention is crucial to the amelioration of the core symptoms of autism, and yet while schools are largely utilizing remote learning, children with autism may not be able to access the intervention they need. The Autism Early Intervention app offers interactive lessons on a variety of early learner topics such as ADL skills and communication. It also allows for the generation of pdf worksheets to address skills in various ways, assisting in generalization.
We recognize that this list is not exhaustive and that there may be many high-quality apps that were not included. If you have suggestions for possible inclusion in a future version of this list, please write us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will consider your suggestion but cannot guarantee its inclusion.
Citation for this article:
Daly, K., & Yosmanovich, K. (2020). A non-exhaustive list of apps. Science in Autism Treatment,17(10).