Library and Other Apps for Children With Autism

In the recent months there has been a lot of buzz about apps. Everything from booking train tickets to checking the latest news are mostly done through apps these days. Libraries are no different in this regard. Smart phones and tabs, loaded with pre-installed apps, are available to many public library users, either for circulation or online use. Librarians too, on their part, are looking at the possibility to review apps and put their stamp of approval, Notwithstanding what you think is the best way to incorporate apps into programs and services, librarians largely agree that these apps are here to stay. The media is full of discussion on the amazing ways by which children with autism have embraced mobile and portable gadgets. Apps for autistic children have replaced the more cumbersome and expensive traditional technology.

There are several ways in which apps for autistic children can be incorporated in a public library setting.

Apps for special children can be used during a story session. For instance, autistic children have tactile defensiveness and they aren’t comfortable with glue, scissors, finger paint or other craft equipment. If they are handed a tab running a drawing app or doodle, it will enable them to participate in art and craft activities in an adaptive fashion.

Tabs for use inside the library, or for circulation, can be loaded with appropriate apps for autistic children, so that families who don’t own the technology as yet, will have access to it. Librarians, on their part, can introduce tabs and some particular apps to families of autistic children on an experimental basis. In families with higher income, it will help parents preview the apps before they purchase.

A program or brochure can describe the features one should look for while previewing apps for autistic children. Such an approach will empower parents and help them to assess new apps when they are introduced in the market. Besides the features that make apps for autistic children useful in libraries, parents should check whether it can be customized with the child’s name and other personal information. Most importantly, the apps should keep track of the child’s progress.

School libraries can tailor their tabs and apps for autistic children because many children with autism are already using these devices in classrooms and therapy sessions. The child’s instructors, classroom teachers, and occupational and speech therapists can provide guidance on the apps for autistic children that could be helpful during library time.

What to check?

Before installing a library app, check out whether it supports both images and text. The images must be as realistic as possible. Some apps include video modelling i.e. the lessons are demonstrated with the help of a video. It should provide rewards in the form of points. You should also be able to set the difficulty level. Not every child’s aptitude is the same and it particularly varies widely among autistic children. The number of pictures on a screen, and the space between them, should be adjustable. The same holds good for speech and audio effects. They can be modified according to the needs of the child.

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