By Dang U. Koe, ASP Chair Emeritus
About ten years ago, I was seriously considering buying an alternative and augmentative communication device for my son Gio. The price was equivalent to that of a second-hand car at that time, and one had to purchase such device from the US.
Now, all it takes is one touch… on your tablet… to download, most for free or for a reasonable price, autism apps that parents and therapists consider as powerful tools to reach persons with autism. Dr. Andy Shih of Autism Speaks noted that “the range of these apps has expanded well beyond the initial focus of helping people with autism communicate and improve social skills to learning about emotions and delivering basic educational lessons in a format that’s better suited to autistic learners.”
Angels talk surveyed several Filipino therapists which among these autism apps they find most useful for most of their students/patients.
Mae Catherine S. Sadicon, veteran Speech Pathologist, SPEECH Clinic and St. Luke’s Medical Center - Neurodevelopmental Center, Quezon City:
"Proloquo2Go is a communication tool most effective for children who are nonverbal or those who have minimal utterances; it captured the essence of Alternative Augmentative Communication. It is flexible for the interventionists to create personalized files specific to the child’s needs. It also facilitates improvements in in the child’s receptive and expressive vocabularies, lengthening of utterances, etcetera.
"I use the Social Express for my students who are in the high-functioning range or those with better language processing and verbal proficiency. The videos and characters are interesting. The situations they included in the app mirror the common difficulties that these children manifest and encounter.
"I also use Choice Board Creator for those who are nonverbal or with minimal verbal output. It can be used as a “bridging” tool when transitioning the child from PECS to Proloquo2Go. The user is given leeway to create picture options for the child to use. Steps in creating folders are as easy as pie...even for non-techie like me."
Anthony S. Grecia, Occupational Therapist and Program Director of GOALS (Kalookan, Alabang and BGC):
"For fine motor skills: Touch and Write is a fun way of learning letters by writing with shaving cream, jello, finger paint, and more. You can individualize it with your own list of names and words.
"For structuring/scheduling: First Then Visual Schedule helps kids with autism understand what is currently going on and what will be going on in their lives, which makes them feel more comfortable. This app allows you to create your own visual electronic schedules complete with text, voice, and pic
"For communication: Proloquo2go."
Kimberly Geronimo, Speech and Language Pathologist, Primary Skills Foundation:
"The Bag Game is for all age groups and to be played with others. It encourages language processing skills including asking questions.
"Between the lines, for teens and adults, works on reading social cues, such as vocal intonation, facial expressions, body language and idioms/slangs.
"Language Empires work not only on language and communication but also on problem solving skills: how which and why questions, predictions, sequencing, etc. Ideal for 8-12 year olds."
Jenette Ethel N. Vizcocho, Speech Therapist, Therapy Works, Inc. and Skill Builders:
"Bookabi let my students create their own photo stories with a wide selection of characters, backgrounds and objects that they can place, resize and rotate with the swipe of a finger.
"AutisMate is a combination of scheduler and how-to’s for activities of daily living; it can be personalized and helps the child transitions from one developmental stage to the next.
"iCommunicate is visual scheduler with auditory recordings. It also lets you customize storyboards, communication boards, choice boards, flash cards, and speech cards. Aside from using own pictures, users can record their own audio for boards."
Cheene L. Manalo, Sped Teacher, Independent Living and Learning Center in Davao:
ABA Receptive Identification teaches children to identify objects following Applied Behavior Analysis teaching principles.
"Making Sequences customizes picture sequences using activities from your student’s daily routines.
"Pictello allows me and my students to create multimedia social stories, complete with photos and sounds."
Also cited Proloquo2Go and First Then Visual Scheduler.
Dax Conde, Speech Therapist, ILLC, Mandaluyong City:
Pepi Bath is a role-play game where children learn about hygiene in a fun way.
"Model Me Going Places is a great visual teaching tool for helping your child learn to navigate challenging locations in the community.
"Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Road Rally is fun while learning. Kids participate directly in the storyline by completing various activities."
All our angel talkers this week agreed that there are many other apps that can be used regardless of where the child lies in the Autism Spectrum, but they should be used in moderation. As Teacher Mae Sadicon said, “I make it a point that the child gets exposed to other activities and techniques as well. I think it is equally important, even more so, to advocate for hands-on interaction with the child. This is the best APP by far :)
ASP holds back-to-back seminars on Vision Therapy by Dr. Teresita Yambot and Music Therapy by Teacher Yankee on June 29 at the Bridges Foundation School in Quezon City. The Family Support Group meeting on June 22 will be facilitated by Dad Evert Malapad. Follow Autism Society Philippines on its blogspot, Facebook and Twitter.
This article appeared in print and online by Manila Bulletin on 17 June 2013.