With the increase in adults with autism living in the community in their own home or apartment whether alone with support or with others with support, the development of apps for smartphones and tablets will make the all the difference. Many of those who are now embarking on this huge transition are of the age where using a tablet in school or on a daily basis was not something they were used to. Therefore, apps are not the first thing their parents go to for learning. Some use pictures from magazines or familiar photos taped to a poster board, or the use of white boards on the refrigerator to teach a skill. But a combination of the ‘old school’ method developed by Linda Hogdon, CCC-SLP in her book Visual Strategies For Improving Communication. as well as apps for mobile devices with support from direct care professionals and parents, an adult with autism will find keeping up with daily household tasks and grooming will be easier to attain.
There are hundreds of apps available and take hours on a limited schedule choosing the right one. Here are the top five for creating independence, with that independence for an adult with autism being defined as learning to manage time, steps in grooming, tasks of daily living for household maintenance, medication management and safety for parents and caregivers to check in. Note, not all of these apps are offered for free.
The first step in learning time management is by being able to judge lapses in time, such as approximating how long it takes to perform the morning routine in order to get to work on time, the time it takes to do dishes or take out the garbage. Everyone knows that when teaching a person with autism a new skill, it starts with relating it to something the love, such as how long do they have to wait for the caregiver to arrive. The method of a Timed Timer was used and implemented in schools througout the country. It is also available on both Google Play-Timed Timer and iTunes Store – Time Timer
Next is the app for basic grooming, but they do have them for the more involved steps in a skill such as shaving. Yet, personal care is so individualized that one app fits all is not possible. Instead, the Personal Success iTunes app can be personalized.
Third, we have the need for household maintenance and chores, such as feeding pets, washing dishes, and making their bed. The idea of a checklist to see what is done or not done is vital. This is very similar to the concept used originally with the ‘all done’ folder when using the original Visual Strategies as mentioned above. Here, there is My Chore Pad, available in iTunes, or the one on Google Play as Chore Check List seems to be more mature and better suited for an adult.
Of course, medical management with medications and blood sugar checks, as well as reminders are all available on the Touch Streams Solutions app. This is an entire program that requires the purchase of a tablet. Still, it’s comprehensive.
Last of the top 5 apps for increasing independence in adults with autism is one that will provide security and peace of mind for caregivers. This is done through the use of passive technology in apps such as Wellness alarm services.
There are resources available for full listings of mobile apps for those with autism at Autism Speaks and on the Friendship Circle.