Using technology and apps to help my child speak is something that many parents of autistic children use, and they can be of great use of course. However, as with non-autistic children, technology should always be used with caution, and so here we have provided some guidance to help you make the most of it. Why use technology? Technology has many uses for autistic children, including: Helping them to learn new skills Helping to motivate them Helping them to concentrate Helping them to communicate with people around them, especially if they are using an ap to talk Helping them to manage their anxiety with useful apps What can Technology be used for? Technology, such as smartphones and tablets, can have lots of different uses including: Leisure Autistic children can often struggle with tasks such as sitting still to listen to a story, and so they may find it easier to interact with a story on a tablet. You can find lots of ways to share your love of computers or engage with them through their tablet – sharing your experiences like this can really strengthen your relationship. Communication In the past, your autistic child might have used a picture communication system, social stories or a visual timetable on paper to help them communicate – and now they can have all of these systems of communication on one device. Apps such as App2Vox can help your child to communicate, and nowadays using software you have downloaded to your device is a much more acceptable way to communicate than having to carry around a lot of picture cards. There are many tablet apps out there which are aimed at helping autistic children to communicate, but App2Vox is the only one which has been developed in association with autism together and which is supported by COMMITT. It is based on a picture system which the child drags to construct the sentence. Many parents worry that using an app to help their child to speak will affect their child’s ability to speak. There is no evidence to support this either way, but a picture communication app such as App2Vox will be a really useful tool for young children who are learning to speak. It can also work well for older people who have limited or no vocabulary, helping them to communicate with friends and family. Social Another worry that some parents have is that using technology is an anti-social activity which may mean their child withdraws from social situations. However, this is not always the case. If there is a popular game that other children are playing, and your child is allowed to play it to then it will give them something to talk about in the playground. There are also a large number of games available which are community based, and then there are social networks such as Facebook and so on. You can use such games and networks as this to help your child to overcome their feelings of social isolation by working with them to help them to learn how to use such things safely. Helping your teenager to build their confidence in things like this, can help them towards living a more independent life and just becoming more independent in general. Starting out with Technology If you are thinking of introducing your child to technology, one easy way to do this is to borrow a tablet or smartphone from your child’s school or a willing friend, to see how your child responds to it before you actually splash out on one of your own. How to choose your Hardware As with most things, there are lots of different choices you can make when it comes to hardware and the right thing for you will depend on how much you want to spend, what you want the technology to do, and how adept your child is at using technology. Here are some things you may want to think about when considering which piece of hardware to buy: What do you need it for? If you are just going to use it at home, then you may want to think about a laptop or desktop which can have other uses in the family. If you are primarily going to use it as a communication device for your child though, you may want to get something smaller and lighter that they can carry around – such as a smartphone or small tablet. What features do you need? Look at whether the device you are considering has parental controls as these may come in useful. You may also want a device that allows multiple user accounts to sign in so that other members of the family can use it as well. What software are you going to be using? Some apps are only available on Apple, which means purchasing Apple products which tend to be more expensive than Android. Are there compatible accessories? If you are going to be purchasing a tablet which your child will carry round to help them communicate with, then you may want to think about purchasing a hard case as well in order to protect it. What interface does the device have? Touchscreens can be very useful for young children or those with a learning challenge as it will be the easiest interface for them to use. You can always consider buying a device second hand as this may enable you to stretch your budget further. Just make sure that you buy from a reputable dealer and that you get a guarantee as well. App2Vox is one of the leading apps to help my child speak and if you would like to find out more about how our app helps your child to communicate, then please browse our website or get in touch with our friendly team to find out more.