Are you looking to purchase a technology product as a gift for someone with autism? If so, please do not go out and buy the latest hyped technology gizmo you just saw on a home shopping channel or read about online. Rather, spend some time first to consider what your family member with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) needs and likes. Then put together a set of requirements based on those interests and needs. Some requirements to consider include:
- Know the platform (Apple-iOS or Android) the technology uses/runs on, and how much memory it requires. Make sure your device has enough memory to run the software.
- If the technology is internet-based, make sure you have a good internet connection so it works as it should without interruption. Trying to use an internet-based program that constantly freezes or gets interrupted is an exercise in frustration.
- If the software is collecting information about your family member, please make sure the software is secure and that your personal identifiable information is protected.
- Also understand how you get upgrades for the software to keep it up to date.
- Functionality and Vetting
- Make a list of the features you are looking for. These include age range, type of games, communication, applied behavior analysis, knowledge base, step guides, education, sensory, social media, and edutainment to name a few.
- Ask your friends what products their family members like and what they like about them.
- Sites such as https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/best-autism-apps/ offer products that have been vetted by experts.
- Cost and Purchase Agreements
- Check the return policy before you buy in case the technology is not a good match for the gift recipient.
- Consider the longevity on the product: How long will this product work for your loved one? Given that, is it worth the list price?
- Take advantage of a trial run, if offered. It can be a good way to test the usefulness of the technology. Just don’t forget to mark the end of the trial in your calendar so your credit card is not charged if the product is not a good fit.
Our Top Three ASD Product/Service Recommendations
Floreo: Virtual Reality for Social Education
Floreo is currently only available on iOS mobile operating systems. The company is considering expanding to Android phones.
New subscribers get one month free, after which the subscription is $49.99/month. This does not include the headset, but the company offers headset recommendations.
Floreo is offering OAR subscribers the first month free and then $24.99/month for six months, and $49.99/month after that. Use https://floreotech.com/oar to subscribe.
Virtual reality technology has been steadily expanding from entertainment into education and everyday uses in the home. Floreo uses virtual reality to provide immersive and fun lessons for children and adults with ASD.
Some of the experiences Floreo provides are focused on helping develop social connection, managing planned and unplanned scenarios, and calming environments to handle sensory overload. Licensed speech language pathologists and neurodevelopmental pediatricians, among other experts, helped to develop the virtual reality content.
Virtual reality applications can be hard to pick up the first time. Floreo guides you through the process, both through the app itself and via email. It provides great instructions on how to pick a good headset and get started.
Floreo requires both an iPhone and an iPad. This dual functionality offers the best possible experience for both the learner and the coach. The learner uses the iPhone with a virtual reality headset, while the coach manages the learner’s experience with the iPad. You can preview the experience on just an iPhone if you want to try Floreo without purchasing it first.
Daivergent: Work Readiness and Employment
- Standard Tier: Free
- Enhanced Tier: $99/month ($269/quarter, $999/year), which comes with an automated job matching service, reporting dashboards, and online training courses for day jobs.
You can also give a Daivergent quarterly or annual subscription to a family member or community agency.
This holiday promo code for the OAR community — DAIOAR — discounts the price to $79/month from $99/month. The promotion expires on 12/31/19. To order, go through .
Daivergent is unlocking the unique aptitude of people on the autism spectrum, connecting companies to a high quality workforce through its innovative platform. The founder, Byron Dai, wanted his brother, who is on the autism spectrum, to have a job more aligned with his abilities. He built Daivergent to meet that need, combining his data science background with the need for employment in the ASD community.
Daivergent offers training and employment services to support individuals with ASD and other developmental disabilities. Users can develop skills in programming, graphic design, marketing, and more through video-based curricula and earn a new certification. There is also an opportunity to join any of the 15 interest groups to meet like-minded individuals who share similar passions. Users can also practice for their next interview with virtual coaches.
Programming, graphic design, and marketing positions are available as are data specialist positions. A state-of-the-art platform provides opportunities tailored to the worker. To become a data specialist, your loved one must complete the following steps:
- Register for an account with Daivergent.
- Complete the screening assessment.
- Complete a qualification task.
- Complete the onboarding online.
DrOmniBus: ABA Digital Therapy
- Professional version for therapists, which includes a Therapist Center, is $29.99/per patient/month and can extend to clients’ homes.
- Parents’ version is $12.99/month.
The company offers a seven-day free trial.
The discounted offer for OAR subscribers provides the PRO version for $75 for one year. The offer is good until 12/31/19 upon email request to firstname.lastname@example.org. (Use OAR in the subject line.)
This well-respected ABA tool works very well for children with ASD and lower adaptive skills. It is meant to be a supplement to face-to-face ABA therapy. Because the average intervention takes 26 months, the tool includes 26 months of step-by-step guidance.
It includes deep content with the flow for growth through ABA therapy. The supervisor/therapist sets goals and tasks. Parents must decide on skills to train. This is a risk, as this work is best done by a therapist (like deciding to start with colors vs. shapes). The parents’ version of the product does not have artificial intelligence so tasks are hard to predict.
The professional version can follow the patient from the therapist’s office to home, with the expected level of communication skill improvements to be accelerated as work continues at home between therapy appointments.
What sets DrOmniBus apart from others?
- It is a comprehensive solution that provides high quality vetted content, data, and planners.
- It offers content that can be used at home with data analysis going to the therapist.
DrOmniBus is working to get FDA approval for this product as a therapeutic tool covered by insurance. With insurance coverage, families who are on wait lists for therapists can use the product for ABA therapy.
Note: The product recommendations in this article are those of the authors and are not in any way endorsed by OAR. The discounts offered are a benefit for the OAR community. OAR does not receive royalties of any kind.
Cathy Schwallie Farmer is a co-founder of EduPalRobot.com, a start-up, and advises others about setting up start-ups. She is also an angel investor and blockchain enthusiast. She has two brothers with on the spectrum and serves as autism activist and board member on several boards, including OAR.
Conrad Hollomon is a growth director at Techstars. He volunteers at the Aspergers and Autism Network. He is a veteran and Milspouse advocate at Operation Code.
They thank Dan Feshbach and Gabrielle Forsythe Korzeniewicz at www.BlueUmbrella.io (first autism technology accelerator, Bay Area, California) who were kind enough to pull 15 top technologies from their ASD tools database, to help them select the top three they have shared in this article.