- Ingrid Simone, Toca Magazine Executive Editor
For Autism Awareness Month, we’re highlighting three of our favorite resources for families with kids affected by autism. These three sites offer families reviews of apps, video games and more to share with kids on the spectrum, many of whom find digital play an engaging way to learn.
LearningWorks for Kids was founded by Dr. Randy Kulman, a licensed clinical psychologist who has worked directly with kids and families for the past 30 years. On this site, you’ll find “Playbooks”— reviews of popular, mainstream apps and games as well as those designed to address learning challenges. Playbooks include information about the skills the apps and games can help with and a description of how they help.
You can search for games by diagnosis (autism, ADHD, depression, etc.) or skill (focus, organization, self-awareness, etc.). LWK gives a LQ (Learning Quotient) rating to each title.
Registering for a free account gives you access to PlayTogether guides, which help parents to turn playtime with an app or game into a positive learning and relationship-building experience. You’ll also get game-related activities designed to boost thinking and academic skills as well as personalized game recommendations.
LWK’s blog is one you’ll want to bookmark. It’s regularly updated with helpful, informative posts about topics that matter to families with kids with autism and other special needs.
Dr. Kulman — an expert on the use of digital technologies for improving kids’ thinking skills — is a regular contributor to Toca Magazine.
BridgingApps was created by parents and therapists who began using the iPad with children who have special needs. This program of the Easter Seals of Greater Houston provides families and professionals everywhere an online resource for choosing apps to enhance the lives of people with disabilities and for sharing their successes with others. Their app review system was created in collaboration with speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists.
You can search by skill, fine-tuning by skill level, app store category and more. Not every app has a BridgingApps review; you can choose to only show titles with reviews by checking a box.
The BridgingApps blog includes success stories that highlight real-life experiences where apps and tech have made a positive impact on the lives of kids and adults with a disability.
Common Sense Media is a nonprofit organization that offers more than 25,000 unbiased reviews of kids’ media. Their Learning Differences and Special Needs topic center answers questions such as “Are mainstream apps OK for my kid with special needs?” and “Are there apps to help kids practice social interactions?” It also includes a guide with reviews of apps, games and websites for kids with special needs and learning differences. You can find reviews by developmental level (beginner, intermediate, advanced) and by skill (communication, social interaction, organization, reading and writing, math and motor skills). Each review includes a rating for overall quality and a rating for learning potential.
*Editor’s note: Toca Magazine Executive Editor Ingrid Simone was formerly an editor at Common Sense Media.
More resources for finding apps and tech products for kids with ASD:
- Autism Speaks
- Apps for Children with Special Needs
- Autism Plugged In
- Friendship Circle