As I reported on Twitter on Friday, April is Autism Acceptance Month, and Apple is participating in a couple of ways.
First, Apple has created a new app collection in the iOS App Store featuring great apps for people with autism. The apps span a wide range of developmental domains, such as communication, social skills, and fine-motor development. Titles include Proloquo2Go, Keeble, and Assisitive Express. There are games in this collection as well, including Hopster and Injini.
Secondly, Apple is offering two new “field trips” sessions to its retail stores. Using the Skoog music box—an iPad-compatible tactile cube meant to enhance the sensory experience of making music for children with disabilities—these new field trips are designed to allow “teachers and students [to] participate in a creative, collaborative, and memorable learning experience which is inclusive of children with disabilities,” according to Apple. (The Skoog box has a companion app for iPad.)
I covered Apple’s work in acknowledging Autism Awareness Month last year, and am glad to see the company do so again in 2017. As I wrote last year, the autistic community holds a special place in my heart. I’ve mentioned many times that before beginning my career in Apple journalism, my background is in special education and early childhood development. I worked for over a decade as a classroom aide in special day classes for children with special needs. During that time, I worked 9 years with preschool-age children—the majority of whom on the autism spectrum. As such, I was trained in several teaching methodologies designed for autistic children. Hence, AAC apps like the aforementioned Proloquo2go, which is based on a picture-based communication system called PECS, is intimately familiar to me.