Technology is amazing, and it’s so hard to believe that in the last twenty years, we’ve got from cell phones the size of bricks to tiny computers you can hold in your hands. Out of the millions of apps out there, there are a great deal that I’ve found incredibly useful for not only Autism but Mental Health as well.
They’re not all Autism specific, but even so, I’d like to share some of the ones I find essential.
1. Habitica- I’ve mentioned here more than once that I struggle with Executive Dysfunction. And on top of that, I’m not the best at transitioning between activities. Habitica helps with both of these tremendously. It’s like a To-Do list on steroids, and it fills in the gaps in my brain. All you have to do is enter tasks you need to complete, whether it be daily, weekly, or monthly, and it helps you track them, and will even send you reminders. And to encourage you, it takes the theme of a Role-Playing Game, so the more tasks you complete, the higher your level, the more powerful your weapons, and the cooler your pets! I definitely get more done using this app.
2. Emergency Chat App- This app is designed specifically for Autistic people. It fills an incredible need- communication when you’re not able to communicate verbally. One of my biggest fears about going places by myself is that I’ll get overwhelmed and lose my words. This app calms my nerves. When opened, it pops up a message, telling the reader that I’m not currently able to speak, and that I’m very sensitive, so I shouldn’t be touched. It then provides a text chat service, where the other person and I can text back and forth. Although I rarely need it, the fact that it’s there makes me feel safer.
3. Community Apps- One of the best things about my Autism diagnosis is that it came with a huge and wonderful community. As someone who would be considered a life-long lurker, it took me a while to dip my toes in, but now I’m liking and posting and commenting all over the place! I love having access to my people wherever I go, and to be honest, sometimes the apps are better than the websites (I’m looking at you Instagram!) The ones I rely on most are Tumblr, Instagram, WordPress, and Reddit. They all have amazing Autistic communities, whether you have a question, have something to share, or just want to feel understood.
4. Distraction Apps– Sometimes all I need is a distraction, and my number one favorite distraction is board games. They force me to focus on one thing and let me tune out the many things in this world that overwhelms me. Now, I prefer to play games sitting around a table with real people, but let me honest, that’s not always possible. Luckily, as board gaming gets more popular, the app versions of many games are getting better. All of my favorites have single player options, where you play against an AI, and even better, some let you play with friends. My favorite distraction-worthy board game apps are Onirim, Ascension, Tsuro, and Lattice. I especially like that I can play Lattice with my wife over a period of days. The heated battle of tile laying is definitely a distraction!
5. Spotify– Music is great because it can serve a number of purposes. It can block out unpleasant noises, it can transport you to a different place and time, it can be a source of entertainment, and it can calm your mood. I’m including it here for the first and the last reasons. Oftentimes music and my headphones are the only way I can tolerate crowded spaces. And once I’ve survived said crowds, music also helps to calm me back down. Now I know that all phones give you access to your music library, but I chose Spotify because it provides you with community made playlists. So you can just search ‘calm’ or ‘anxiety’ and up pop playlists that work for other people, so there’s a good chance it might work for you. And as a personal note, if you use Spotify a lot- the premium version is totally worth it. I promise they haven’t paid me to say that.
Well, there we are, my essential apps! At the time of this posting, all the apps I’ve mentioned are free and available in the iTunes store. For Android users, you’ve got access to most of them, and from a quick search, it seems like there are comparable options.
Are there any apps that you can’t live without? Let me know while I’ve still got some memory left on my phone!