Do we need assessment apps for adults with autism?

There has been enough buzz of late about how smartphones and the iPad have come to the help of both autistic children and adults. These devices have ushered in a whole new world of learning, independence, portable supports, and communication aids. While these devices are not cheap, they are certainly inexpensive when compared to various other specialized devices, most of which are usually too bulky to carry.

With the development of specialized assessment apps for adults with autism, people can now carry a slim and small device, which has these pre-installed programs. Most of these apps, however, are developed for autistic children. It is important to understand that mobile technology can potentially be a game-changer for autistic adults as well. Perhaps it is not a surprise that autism apps target children with a sooner-is-better philosophy. But the autism apps community, notwithstanding the best of intentions, seems to have forgotten the needs of autistic adults.

As mentioned before, the smartphones, the iPad, and Android devices have great potential to assist both autistic adults and children. The question, however, is whether we really need targeted assessment apps for adults with autism, or the ones for children can be used by adults as well.

Well, for one, the existing apps are perfectly suitable and have their own specialties. But adults have needs that are different from what children have. That doesn’t mean the apps meant for children can’t be used for adults. It’s only that the entire content of the app is unlikely to be appropriate for adults and may not cover an autistic adult’s needs. Autistic adults don’t need the same level of social skills training and academic apps like children. But adults who need to brush up their behavioral skills are likely to find these apps suitable.

Assessment apps for adults with autism are more than just teaching tools. They are, in effect, a supportive device to manage functional skills, dealing with stress, organizing and largely a means of communication. In simpler words, the apps assess autistic adults on these grounds. There are other productivity and organizational apps, but the ones for assessment, i.e., the apps that measure the progress of an autistic adult, are usually exclusive in nature. These assessment apps for adults with autism actually help identify possibilities of independence and could lessen an autistic adult’s need for a 24X7 caregiver.

The autism community, including the affected persons, their kin, doctors, and their support staff must come forward to support the development of assessment apps for adults with autism. People don’t stop being an autistic all of a sudden after attaining adulthood. They usually require lifelong support and accommodation. And this is exactly where assessment apps for adults with autism come in handy. They gauge the progress of an autistic adult over the years, in the areas of communication, social skills, language and more.

Some specific programs for communication and soft skills often double up as assessment apps for adults with autism. The focus, however, remains the same — helping the differently-abled get ahead in life.