Developer: SpecialNeedsWare LLC
Platform: iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad (English)
Category: Educational Apps
AutisMate Has Endless Applications!
AutisMate is a difficult app for me to review, but not because it lacks benefits for children with ASD. No – this review is difficult to put together because AutisMate is such a comprehensive app, and you can’t really summarize it in a couple of paragraphs! (I can assure you, my friends, that this is a good thing.) There are a myriad of uses for this software, and I’m sure that you’ll find each one a great help to the people affected by ASD in your own home!
This application gives you a basic AAC platform to build off of, but that’s not even the main attraction here. The main reason that AutisMate is a winner is its scene creator, which helps you to take photos of your own home and turn them into a customized app just for your children! Place hotspots into your scenes, and attach videos, recorded text, and more to them! I would tell you more about the app, but I think you’ll understand its potential more fully if I just explain to you how AutisMate works!
Creating Your Own Scenes
At the launch of the app, there is a very comprehensive tutorial that you need to go through before you can access the software’s features. Don’t worry – while it does take about ten minutes to complete, this walkthrough really shows you how to use the application in a way that will help you to reap great benefits, and is worth the time!
On the home page of the application, you can see the default scenes that are loaded onto AutisMate as well as the ones that you have created yourself. I would recommend, after learning more about the app, deleting the scenes that aren’t related to your own home so that you can take advantage of the customizable aspects that this program has to offer.
When you tap the Add Scene button, which is a blank page with a green plus on it, you need to do two things: name the scene and select a background picture by tapping the camera icon. This will bring up a choice between taking a picture and choosing from the library on your device – I would recommend getting pictures of the most important rooms of your house onto your Photos before you set up the app.
What You Can Do With Hotspots
Within your scene, you can create hotspots that perform several functions. Press the star with a green plus sign to add a new hotspot and attach pictures, videos, and more to it! This way, when the user clicks on that hotspot, they will be presented with the setup that you have created for them. (I’ll go into this in more detail a little bit later.)
The best option, in my opinion, for adding things to hotspots is the Add Popup function. This will bring up a button(s), all of which you customize yourself before placing them on the hotspot. On these items, you can add voice (synthetic or recorded), set an image, or set a video! For example, you could place a hotspot on the fridge and have it open a pop-up with a picture of a banana. When a child taps on this picture he can hear the phrase “bananas are good or breakfast” or anything else that you may deem appropriate for the app.
I would like to note that the synthesized voice, which speaks text that you type, is extremely high-quality.
Storyspots and more features of AutisMate!
Storyspots are like hotspots, but they show up as storybooks. Children with autism can use the arrows to navigate through the pages, and each page can have pictures or videos as well as recorded audio! This is an awesome feature that you could use to give directions on doing something – for example, you could create a step by step video for washing your hands and add it to the storyspot, along with some written instructions!
AutisMate, like I mentioned earlier, also has Wordboards, which will come up if you click on the face icon in the bottom right hand corner of the page. This has three options: Feelings, Describe, and Chat, all of which have several options within them. You can even add to the options that are available if there’s something that you think is imperative for your child to know, but I might recommend only using this feature of the app for limited purposes, and investing in a full-blown AAC application for everyday communication use.
Locations Feature Adds Even More Possibilities To The Mix!
In the top right hand corner of the app, you’ll see a map icon. This can be used to add locations that you frequent – a good example would be adding your own house and grandma’s house, so that kids with autism will have a whole new set of scenes to play with when they’re staying at the home of a family member!