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aacorn Assists Autistic Children with Language and Communication

Posted by Andrew Stevens on November 26th, 2013
iPad App - Designed for iPad

aacorn is an assisted communication app for children with autism. The app features a word tree that helps a child find a word through a series of branching pathways, and it also helps them understand language by creating relationships between words by displaying the more likely word choices that people are looking for.

“The amazing predictive capability of aacorn makes words easier to find by presenting them as they are needed, enabling previously non-verbal children to speak both simple and complex sentences with relative ease, while also encouraging children of all ages and abilities to expand their vocabulary in ways previously not possible" said Professor Sheena Reilly, Associate Director at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, in a press release.

Avaz Is A Speech Therapy App That Helps Children Improve On Their Communication

Posted by Andrew Stevens on August 20th, 2013
iPad App - Designed for iPad

Avaz - AAC App for Autism (Augmentative Picture Communication Software for Children with Special Needs) is an app that helps children with special needs improve on their communication. The app is designed to help with speech therapy and has 3 vocabulary sets that feature over 5,000 core and peripheral words. It also has automated tracking that allows speech therapists to keep track of each session while working without having to take written notes.

•Automated tracking – Helps SLPs/therapists track a child's session while working on the app instead of making detailed notes
•Instant customization – Add a new message or edit an existing one within 15 seconds!
•Be social – Share Avaz messages on Facebook, Twitter and e-mail
•Prediction with Pictures – Use predicted words, prompted by pictures to improve sight-reading
•Record your voice – Personalize Avaz by recording a voice that the child is comfortable with.
•Use Avaz on multiple iPads – Synchronise Avaz content at home and school through Dropbox
•Visual reinforcement - Reinforce learning through animated zoom-in

AutisMate: Helping Those On The Spectrum Learn More Easily

Posted by Jennifer Allen on January 30th, 2013
iPad App - Designed for iPad

We love to find out more about apps that are not only fun to use but provide a great benefit to their users' lives. So, when I heard about AutisMate, a new app aimed at helping those with autism develop their communication and behavioral skills, I jumped at the chance to find out just how it came to be.

The History Behind It

AutisMate has quite an interesting history, as it was created by Jonathan Izak, who was motivated by wanting to help his 10 year old brother, Oriel, who has autism.

"As with many on the spectrum, my brother was often frustrated by the inability to express himself and understand what others expected from him. I recognized that those on the autism spectrum generally have stronger visual learning abilities and that there was a huge need for a solution that could help my brother and others connect with the world around them," he explained.

"AutisMate does this by taking well-researched visual therapy interventions such as video modeling, visual schedules, and visual stories and making them interactive and easily personalized." Jonathan pointed out that while assistive speech technology is already available for some, it's "limited to sentence building."

"This starting point was too advanced for my brother. For this reason, AutisMate uses visual scenes as a starting point for communication and progresses to the more demanding sentence building. Research shows that visual scenes are more intuitive to the early communicator."

Researching How AutisMate Could Help

Jonathan's initial experiences with autism came from his brother, but he appreciated that while making AutisMate, it was "important to partner with a wide variety of parents, therapists, teachers and other autism professionals." As anyone with experience with autism knows, every person on the spectrum is unique and has their own different challenges, and that's without taking into account the different needs of caregivers and professionals working alongside the autistic person.

Jonathan worked to create a "flexible platform…designed in such a way that it can be personalized to each autistic child and caters to the needs of whoever is using it." While he explains that he wanted to help Oriel, he also wanted to "build a solution that would help him and the many other children like him who are challenged by the wide variety of developmental issues associated with autism."

Taking a year and a half to develop, Jonathan started by testing early builds of the app in local schools and private practices. "Along the way we built a network of over 300 industry experts, researchers, clinicians, educators and even parents," he said, "who provided a 360 degree view of the wide variety of needs and strategies to promote communication and behavioral development for individuals with autism. We also formed an autism advisory board that is made up of some of the leading industry experts and researchers."

Reaping The Benefits

Always wanting to create a new approach to overcoming the issues that many with autism suffer from, Jonathan was still stunned by the positive response. "It’s unbelievably rewarding to get to experience how something you are working towards is impacting the lives of so many families."

He recounted to me examples of how a child was able to overcome a fear of elevators by "[using] a visual story to prepare him for what will happen." and he's appreciated the many "heartwarming emails" from educators and caregivers, "describing how their child is communicating for the first time."

It's been good news for Oriel, too. "Beyond the apparent increase in spontaneous speech, it has also helped my brother with daily activities like tying his shoes, behaving when going to a restaurant or doctor’s office, and learning how to interact with others."

AutisMate is currently available solely for the iPad, but Jonathan informed us that besides numerous updates, they are also currently busy working on expanding to both the iPhone and Android platforms. Additional products are also in the pipeline, so things are looking very promising for those after a solution for various special needs.

Thanks to Jonathan Izak for taking the time to answer our questions.

AutisMate is available now, priced at $149.99. To learn more about it, check out the AutisMate website.

New App: MyAutismTeam Mobile

Posted by Rob LeFebvre on August 15th, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

MyAutismTeam’s new mobile app provides parents of children on the autism spectrum the ability to connect and stay in touch with other parents just like them. The Facebook-meets-Yelp resource for parents allows for the sharing of posts, local provider referrals and tips, as well as the ability to ask questions to the community and post pictures, all while on-the-go so they are connected to the community whenever they need to be.

This Week at 148Apps: April 16-20

Posted by Chris Kirby on April 21st, 2012

This week at 148Apps.com, two great new apps for kids were featured: AutisMate and Ruckus Reader. Writer Jennifer Allen had this to say about AutisMate: "AutisMate was designed by Jonathan Izak, someone whose younger brother and first cousin who have autism. It allows users to add their own pictures, videos and voice recordings to the app in order to create scenes that help promote positive interactions."

Kevin Stout contributed the following about Ruckus Reader: "When a child is in possession of a device as versatile as an iPad, it could be just as distracting as it is productive. A new series of apps by Ruckus, Ruckus Reader, has been released that help parents keep track of their children’s progress through Ruckus Reader books."

Read more about AutisMate here and about Ruckus Reader here.

Meanwhile, at GiggleApps.com, Amy Solomon was investigating the hidden joys of Smash Your Food HD, "Smash Your Food HD is a highly entertaining app for iPad dedicated to the better understanding of the amounts of sugar, salt and oil found within foods that are commonly eaten. With five levels included, players are asked to determine the amounts of these substances by reviewing the nutritional facts of each food in question and then watching as these foods get pulverized – much to the delight of children."

Read more about Smash Your Food HD at GiggleApps.

And last, but certainly not least, 148Apps.biz writer Kevin Stout reported on Apple's recent change in policy regarding iAd revenues: "Before April 1st, developers earned 60% of the iAd revenue they generated within iAd-supported apps. Now developers will receive 70% of iAd revenues, according to Apple’s Developer Center. Developers will now receive this higher percentage for both app download and iAd revenues. This is likely to be a rather large boost in income for developers that use iAd as their primary source of revenue for their free apps."

Read more about this change at 148Apps.biz..

And, to paraphrase Cronkite, that's the way it was. Keep track of all the latest happenings across the iOS and mobile universe by following us on Twitter and liking us on Facebook. You'll be glad you did. Until next time, watch out for the hoary hosts of Hoggoth!

AutisMate: Communication And Therapy Aid For Those On Autistic Spectrum

Posted by Jennifer Allen on April 20th, 2012
iPad App - Designed for iPad

It's important to encourage communication with any child but it's all the more vital for those children with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Fortunately, technology is on hand to help in some cases. AutisMate is one such app that aims to help boost the social skills of people with autism by helping them communicate better.

AutisMate was designed by Jonathan Izak, someone whose younger brother and first cousin who have autism. It allows users to add their own pictures, videos and voice recordings to the app in order to create scenes that help promote positive interactions.

The app goes one step further by using the iPad's GPS functionality to provide users with scenes relevant to their current location.

This can all be set up from within the app with over 12,000 included symbols, custom voice recordings and synthesized voices to make it ideal for each child's needs. It can even be set to use multiple phrases to communicate the same idea in order to promote generalization through variety.

It's great to see such specialist apps utilizing the potential of the iPad and will hopefully make a huge difference for many families of children on the autistic spectrum.

[Source: Mashable]

Helping Autistic Children With FindMe

Posted by Jennifer Allen on January 17th, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

I'm a big fan of apps that make people's lives easier. All the better is an app that genuinely improves someone's life, not just in terms of convenience but in terms of a significant and positive life change.

One such app for some parents is that of FindMe(Autism). It's an app that's designed to help young, autistic children practice simple social skills that many other people take for granted. Requiring no language or reading skills, it's accessible to the vast majority of autistic children with access to an iPad.

The app is simple to play with the aim being to find a person in a scene and tap on them. As the levels progress, distracting objects emerge such as plants or animals thus educating the child to focus on their aim in order to be rewarded.

It sounds so basic but it's something that UK broadcaster, the BBC has reported has helped many families. The app helps encourage the children to focus on other people and their needs while also boosting their self confidence and technological skills.

Autism is a very individual condition so there's no guarantee that it will help every young autistic child but considering FindMe(Autism) is a free app to download, it's well worth a look. It may well help hugely.