Apps for Kids on the Autism Spectrum

Innovative new apps and mobile technology can open doors to how kids learn. By Christine Elgersma

Technology has the power to unlock learning for kids of all ages and stages. And sometimes exploring and learning on a device first is less intimidating than trying out new skills with real people. Check out these apps that help kids with communication, organization, and even social-awareness skills -- and watch the video to learn more about how to choose media and tech products for kids with learning differences.

Calm Counter - Social Story and Anger Management Tool, age 3+
This ingenious app helps kids with special needs, social challenges, anxiety, or anger issues learn self-awareness as they begin to identify when they "need a break" and practice calming down. 

Flummoxvision - Watch Flummox and Friends on your iPad, age 3+
For kids who like a little humor, this series of videos and questions offers a unique approach to learning about social skills. When used with an adult or with a group of kids who can interact around the content, the learning potential will expand and have even more impact.

FTVS HD - First Then Visual Schedule HD, age 3+
With its simple, multisensory interface, this app has great potential for use with kids with developmental or learning disabilities, anxiety or attention issues, and language, hearing, or processing difficulties.​

Kid in Story Book Maker, age 3+
By creating social stories, kids can work with expectations and practice before events actually happen. The special features are particularly helpful for kids who may need to see themselves encountering situations, such as a visit to the dentist, in storybook form before encountering them in real life.

Peppy Pals Sammy Helps Out, age 3+
Though this social-emotional skill builder is designed for young kids, older kids who struggle with social situations and empathy also might find it helpful. Best used with a parent or teacher, this app provides built-in discussion questions to help guide kids so they can take their learning offscreen.

Popplet, age 3+
This mind-mapping tool is especially helpful for kids who have problems with organization and visual memory. Kids can insert words, images, and their own drawings and then connect to other related Popplets to create an interactive outline of related ideas.

Proloquo2Go, age 3+
This extraordinary communication aid is great for kids who have basic to severe speech challenges. Kids can learn how to effectively convey wants, needs, feelings, opinions, social manners, and more.

Social Detective, age 3+
Through video and a comprehensive, step-by-step process, kids can learn about expected vs. unexpected behaviors in a variety of everyday situations. Because the videos include real kids and the app offers practical tips, users will be able to identify with and apply what they learn.

The Social Express II, age 3+
This excellent animated app boosts kids' social-awareness skills. Kids can learn to identify how their peers are feeling, develop coping strategies, recognize the importance of eye contact, and learn a host of core social skills needed to function in daily life. 

For more great learning tools for kids with special needs and learning differences, check out our Learning Difficulties and Special Needs guide.

Angela Zimmerman, Common Sense Media, Manager of Editorial Partnerships, contributed to this article. 

About Christine Elgersma

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Christine Elgersma wrangles learning and social media app reviews and creates parent talks as Senior Editor, Parent Education. Before coming to Common Sense, she helped cultivate and create ELA curriculum for a K-12 app... Read more

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Comments (5)

Adult written by Aston C.

I would like to add one more kids app called Scribble Cards. It delivers a simple design through which children can learn how to write letters and numbers. Check out how to design amazing apps for kids at
Adult written by GoruchDiogenes

Not a big fan of "apps." From my own experiences, giving kids with autism a light netbook or Raspberry Pi and teaching them to set up and configure an Arch installation and how to use wireshark and nmap is much more rewarding. Or else set them up with an emulator and Tetris, Columns and Puyo Puyo.
Adult written by JoseAPM

Hi there! I would like also to share with you some autism friendly products and services. It is here
Adult written by fryej13

These apps sound like great tools to be used in the classroom. Do these apps work best on an iPad or are they compatible with a kindle fire?