What are the benefits to using a communication App?

The use of communication Apps with people with disabilities is a new phenomenon, especially in Ireland. When choosing interventions for/with people with disabilities an evidenced based approach is essential. There are thousands of ‘therapies’ available to people that advertise themselves as being ‘the cure’. However, this does not amount to an evidence based approach; these are sweeping statements made in the hopes that people will buy the product or services. So, why is the use of communication Apps any different?

Even though research is limited in its availability and studies are based on smaller groups; the amounting evidence suggests that the use of communication Apps with people with disabilities results in five potential benefits for the user. One of these benefits is an increase in communication.

As a result of utilising a communication App, research has shown that people have experienced improvements within the area of communication. Three strands of improvement were identified: instances of communication, verbal abilities and spontaneous communication.

The increased instances of communication can be attributed to a primary factor of motivation to communicate. Evidence suggests that people with disabilities; particularly those with Autism are more motivated to engage when using a mobile device as a medium. Using the mobile device appears to remove some of the social anxieties associated with communicating, while also putting the communicative partner at ease due to the ubiquity of mobile devices in todays society. The increase in instances of communication holds the potential to result in the development of spontaneous communication.

Spontaneous communication is a goal that each of us sets for the person we are assisting. In an ideal world each person would develop the skill to communicate independently, without prompts or cues. The use of communication Apps facilitates the development of this skill and provides greater opportunities for development.

In light of the above benefits, it is clear that the use of communication Apps brings many positives to those who use them. Communication is only one area that holds potential for improvement as a result of utilising these types of Apps. Communication Apps also provide opportunities for improvements in the areas of social inclusion, behaviours that challenge, attention span and independence. Continue to follow these posts to find out more in the coming weeks!

Miriam ❤


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