The Autism Society Event and Education Recordings Archive

Use this site to access recordings and presentations from National Conferences

Autism Society records most keynote and concurrent sessions at their annual conferences. You can see and hear those recordings by purchasing full online access, or individual recordings.

5685 There's an App for That

Thursday, July 7, 2011: 10:45 AM-12:00 PM
Captiva 1&2 (Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center)
The latest advances in technology offer unlimited opportunities for all users. The presenter will review some of the latest and greatest iPad and iPod applications that facilitate communication, stimulate learning and create fun for individuals with autism. From applications for teaching all levels of academics, prompting and scheduling to supporting communication and social skills, the iPad is relatively inexpensive, fast, accessible, user-friendly, portable, and cool! This session will review apps for all ages and the rationale for purchase and usage. There's An App for That!

Parents and educators of individuals with autism struggle to find what will enable the individual to access education, participate socially, and communicate effectively.  Computers have multiple programs available but systems are frequently cumbersome and most often are cost prohibitive.  The same is true for communication devices.  The iPad and iPod touch offer a high tech option and solution to teaching formats that require multiple materials, cumbersome record keeping and portability.  The media buzz is building for the educational implications for these devices, however without a body of objective data and the cost to get started, many are hesitant to get yet another device to put in the closet.

Participants will be guided through the device purchase process determining what the device will be used for, by whom and when and then choosing which device is most appropriate.  The merits of the iPod touch, iPhone and iPad will be discussed.  Parents and educators will be able to identify the primary use of the iPad for the designated user in order to design an effective strategy for use.  Discussion on the merits of using the iPad for recreation/leisure and social activities will be held while analyzing possible problems inherent with requiring a user to access not preferred applications for academic use.

Instruction and demonstration will be provided for accessing the App Store and for searching for applications online.  Descriptions for comparing the applications will be included with opportunities to analyze the need for obtaining free "lite" versions of applications or purchasing full versions.  There are hundreds of applications related to the presentation and lists of applications demonstrated with costs and developers and of applications that were not demonstrated will be provided for consumer review.  It will include information regarding data collection, editing, and customization for the programs.

Participants will then have the opportunity to see demonstrations of programs from multiple application categories and they will learn application options for each. (Example:  communication, cause and effect, visual tracking, early learning, literacy, math, language arts, sciences, social networking)  Applications relevant for all levels of users will be demonstrated in each category.  Suggested uses for the applications in the home, school and community will be reviewed as the applications are demonstrated.   A review of applications developed for individuals with autism will be reviewed separately.   A demonstration for customizing and editing communication programs, math programs and language programs will be provided.  Demonstrations for usage by young adults will be provided to include independent living, literacy, leisure and social networking.  Options for educational funding of the devices and paying for applications will be reviewed.  An opportunity for questions and answers will be provided.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learners will be able to identify user needs and formulate a plan for how the device will be accessed and used.
  • Learners will access and review apps by category and differentiate which ones could be best suited for their user.
  • Learners will be able to compare 'lite' versions and 'full' versions of applications to determine which is best for their user.
  • Learners will be able to access lists of applications from familiar vendors or those with similar target audiences and/or subjects to compare and review.

Content Area: Technology


Melanie H. Johnston, M.A.
Autism Consultant
BRITE Success, LLC

Melanie Johnston, M.A., managing director of Brite Success, LLC, is a Certified Autism Specialist, licensed speech pathologist and co-founder of The Bynum School in Midland, Texas. Johnston has more than 30 years of experience teaching and working with children with autism and their families across Texas, the U.S. and internationally.