Why should I consider sensory processing when choosing a communication App?

I have written some posts now about the amount of Apps available within the Autism sector and their routes to development. The amount of communication Apps available to choose from is growing rapidly which makes the task of choosing one more difficult. One aspect to consider in this process is sensory processing.

It is a known fact that everyone with Autism is impacted upon by sensory processing. Sensory processing involves receiving information from different senses and interpreting the information. Each one of us receives information from our senses; sound, sight, smell, taste and touch. The majority of us process this information unconsciously; but, for people with Autism the experience can be much different. Imagine being in a busy shopping centre; people talking and laughing, children crying, coffee brewing, music playing, trollies dashing and people bumping off of you as they walk past. These sensations can get difficult to process within a few minutes and you feel your anxiety levels increasing so you finish your shopping and you retreat to your car for safety. For a person with Autism, this experience can be multiplied at least ten fold. People with Autism are not all effected in the same way by sensory processing, they may be effected by one of the senses or by multiple senses. But how does this impact on choosing a communication App? One of the most important aspects of choosing a communication App for a person with Autism is the colour scheme of the App. Upon analysis of the Apps available on the market, a clear theme emerged; the presence of black and white. This contrast is used throughout many communication Apps; however, it goes against best practice guidelines for developing with people with Autism. The contrast between black and white is one that holds potential to cause difficulties for people with Autism. The use of this contrast can result in people being over stimulated and being unable to concentrate or focus on the content presented to them. This contrast also runs the risk of making content appear as if it is moving around on the page; again, due to over stimulation of the senses. Thus, when choosing a communication App for a person with Autism it is important to consider colour contrast in order to avoid over stimulation of the senses. Choosing Apps with lower contrast provide greater opportunities for people with Autism to immediately engage with the App rather than being disorientated by its features. Colours such as white and navy or white and grey off low arousal for people with Autism; thus, are a better option.

In conclusion, there are many aspects to consider when choosing a communication App for people with Autism; however, sensory processing is one that appears to be overlook in the development and choice process. Sensory processing effects each and every person with Autism in an individual way, nonetheless, it is a crucial element to consider when choosing communication Apps.

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