Archive for Friday, October 28, 2011

KU grads create mobile app to help people with Asperger’s

October 28, 2011


Psychologists who earned their degrees at Kansas University are taking their work into the mobile world, offering applications for autistic kids, teens, young adults and their families to use on iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch devices.

The applications — Sosh, Sosh Lite and an increasing number of their component parts — are available through Apple’s iTunes App Store and already have been downloaded by 5,000 people in the United States and 22 other countries.

The apps are designed to help people with Asperger’s syndrome improve their social skills by giving them tools they can use at school, in restaurants and other places outside of their homes, therapist’s offices and other structured environments.

The full version of the application offers 60 screens that help users interact with people, reduce stress, manage behaviors, think through problems and understand their feelings.

Among the most popular segments, which have been spun off into smaller apps of their own: “The Shredder,” which allows the user to describe a negative situation using text, then drag it down into an audible and visible shredder for destruction; and a voice meter that allows users to regulate how loud they talk, something that can be a challenge for people with Asperger’s.

The app also provides feedback, giving users and families information that can help users manage their condition and improve their social skills.

“This is an app that follows you around and coaches you,” said Mark Bowers, a pediatric psychologist in private practice at the Ann Arbor Center for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, in Ann Arbor, Mich. “It’s like a psychologist in your pocket.”

Bowers, who developed the app, spent 15 years in Lawrence, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a doctorate in child clinical psychology at Kansas University. His wife, Kelly Bowers, also has worked on the app; she received her doctorate in counseling psychology at KU.


Kendall Simmons 6 years, 2 months ago

Too bad they couldn't create something for the countless people with Asperger's even in this country who cannot afford iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touches.

nebraskamom83 6 years, 2 months ago

No kidding! It would be a great tool for me too. But it's not like I have a few hundred to drop on an Apple device. I have an Android device.

rockchalk115 6 years, 2 months ago

The article does not mention that a book was published in conjunction with the app that is a how to guide to social skills for those who don't have the technology. Visit the mysosh website to learn more.

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 2 months ago

I know I'm posting a week "late"...but I did want to have it written down here (for possible future searchers) that simply having the book isn't anywhere near as useful as the app. Why? Because there already are numerous books and articles and websites covering "how-to"s for people with Asberger's. This book is merely a supplement...not a replacement...for the app.

The value of this app (and its spinoffs) is, as the article states "The apps are designed to help people with Asperger’s syndrome improve their social skills by giving them tools they can use at school, in restaurants and other places OUTSIDE [emphasis mine] of their homes, therapist’s offices and other structured environments."

Carrying a book around isn't going to help you know when you're speaking too loudly. Or remind you to monitor your behavior at timed intervals. Or find common ground with peers. Or block out sensory difficulties.

The book tells you that you should speak normally. The app actually monitors your speech volume. The book describes methods of blocking out sensory distractions. The app actually does block out sensory distractions.

So, nope, the book is not even close to being an adequate substitute for the app itself, which is why many of us would still like to see the app developed also for, say, Android.

kuprof54 6 years, 2 months ago

Sounds like a useful tool. Has anyone showed it to the provost?

lunacydetector 6 years, 2 months ago

empathy, empathy, empathy...none of the psych info about autism mentions the lack of empathy for those who have it....and i wonder why?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

Isn't empathy a sign of weakness in your worldview?

nebraskamom83 6 years, 2 months ago

People with Asperger's don't lack empathy. They lack Theory of Mind. BIG difference.

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