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Best Apps for Autism

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A list compiled by Olivia James

As tablet and smartphone technology are becoming more ubiquitous, the number of apps available for people with autism or mental illnesses has exploded. A search for autism on the iTunes store brings up more than one person could ever sift through. So to help you find the best resources out there, here are some of the top apps for autism. We've also included some for depression and anxiety, as those conditions are extremely common in people with autism.


Visual Apps
These are apps that are useful for people who are visual thinkers.

A visual note taking app that helps you organize your thoughts. Best for teens to adults.

Stories About Me
Allows you to create personalized social stories with your own pictures. Best for children or individuals who rely on relatively simple social stories.

Strip Design
Lets you create your own comic strips. Good for helping individuals imagine what others are thinking, or for creating social stories.

Slightly more expensive social stories and picture/text app that allows you to add voice or sounds. Better for people who want more in depth social stories, or who prefer a variety of inputs for learning.

Visual Schedule Planner
Slightly more expensive calendar that allows you to create routines, add sounds and pictures, and plan out your day/week/month in depth.

A diagram creation app that lets you add pictures and shapes, as well as voices and sounds to express an idea, create a schedule, make flowcharts, or make a diagram. Best for older children through adults.

Sensory Apps
These apps give visual, auditory or other kinds of sensory input to help calm or teach.

Art in Motion
Lets you create orbs and shapes that will grow and interact. You can tilt the iPad to move the shapes, or push them into each other. Good for mindfulness or just calming play.

Drawing app with a variety of textures, brushes, and colors.

A good app for calming, it makes the surface of the iPad behave like water. You can play on it with your fingers.

Cause and Effect Sensory Light Box
Best for younger children, this helps kids get used to the cause and effect of touch.

Communication Apps 
Apps for teaching or facilitating communication.

A communication app that relies on images instead of words. Good for younger children who cannot read, or for visual learners

Emergency Chat
An app that someone can pull up on their phone to chat if they become non verbal during stressful situations.

Although expensive, this is the gold standard among communication apps, with images and words, and an extensive vocabulary available. This app is good for a wide variety of individuals, from beginners, to advanced communicators.

Talking Larry
A bird that repeats back what you say to him. You can interact and feed him as well. Good for early stages of verbal learning.

5 Point Scale
An app to help people who use the 5 point scale to express their emotions. An easy way to check in on how intense emotions are. Can be customized for all kinds of situations.

Skill Development
Apps that help improve motor skills, executive functioning, memory, or other skills

Designed for smaller children, or individuals with severe delays, these games help improve motor skills, memory, and build skills.

First, Then Visual Schedule
App designed to help younger individuals or those struggling with executive function break down a task into steps. Can be used for scheduling, or for working through an individual task.

Mental Health/Anxiety Apps
Apps to help calm, create long term strategies for anxiety, or improve mental health.

Relax Melodies
An app that has a variety of soothing sounds. Aimed to help you sleep, but useful for mindfulness or meditation any time.

Positive Activity Jackpot
Helps you identify positive activities in your life. You can assign them a location, or if you're having difficulty thinking of something enjoyable to do, you can give the wheel a spin and it will choose one for you. Good for adults with anxiety, or for younger individuals who have someone to help them set up the app.

This app helps with a wide variety of mental health issues, including mood, anxiety, and general health. Not only does it let you track your mood and other health issues, it also provides strategies for calming, as well as pushes to get out of your comfort zone.

Nature Sounds
Relaxing sounds to help you calm yourself