Autism Apps Are Playing Their Part in Special Education

Gaze into little Pauline’s eyes and you can see her shining intelligence. Non-verbal and profoundly autistic since 18 months of age, Pauline, who is 19 now, is no longer silent or non-communicative. Thanks to apps like “What’s the Expression” and “Make Sentences” that she runs on her iPad, Pauline has a voice. Through a revolutionary technique called facilitated communication, Pauline can meaningfully string together words that can express the feelings she wants to convey.Pauline was introduced to the world of autism apps about a couple of years ago. It was then that she started communicating with the help of her iPad. But till then, Pauline’s intelligence was considered to be that of a four or five-year old child, largely because of her childlike behavior and the non-verbal limited sign language she used for communication. After she was introduced to “What’s the Expression” and “Make Sentences” apps, the teen has not only displayed high intelligence, but also a stunning command over English language. Pauline now describes her past life as something chocked in silence.In a recent typing session, Pauline wrote that 2016 has been a remarkable year for her so far because she has learnt several new words and their proper use. The two apps have made her smart and more acceptable in her peer group that mostly includes non-autistic children. These children once used to keep Pauline at a distance. But that has changed, thanks to the autistic child picking up basic sentence making and communication skills.Pauline’s special educator Linda says that she first came across the “What’s the Expression” and “Make Sentences” apps while teaching at a children’s school in Denver. One of her colleagues informed her that iPads and tabs were changing the conventional system of autism education. It was then that she tried out these two apps and was impressed by the features. While the “Make Sentences” app teaches an autistic child how to string together words, the “What’s the Expression” app helps tackle the communication challenges.Linda attended a workshop for these two apps and received mentorship from a number of master educators. The training program helped her learn how to introduce these digital devices in stages. Even though Linda acts as a full-time instructor to autistic people like Pauline, she regularly attends refresher programs.Pauline, on her part, is grateful to Linda who first introduced her to the “What’s the Expression” and “Make Sentences” apps.