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Autism Discovery Tool

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The Autism Discovery Tool: Sensory from Within is a mobile app that aims to improve sensory environments for people on the autism spectrum by giving people in home, school, and community settings, the skills to better understand and communicate about how sensory perception can effect people on the spectrum in different ways. 

Teacher Review

Two years ago, I was part of a panel that interviewed a prospective teacher for our primary school for autism. During the interview, we asked one of our standard questions, 'What do you feel are the main challenges for young people on the spectrum?' They answered differently from some of the typical answers we usually hear, "That is a difficult question not being on the spectrum myself, what I would say is, spending a day in their shoes would be fascinating and terrifying in equal measure. So apart from what we read and hear, it would be truly difficult to really understand the main challenges." It was quite a refreshing answer to hear and an interesting perspective.
This answer came to mind when reviewing Autism Discovery Tool. Sensory processing can be a huge area of difficulty for people with an autistic spectrum condition. Having sensory integration difficulties, or sensory sensitivity can have a profound effect on a person's life. People who struggle to deal with all this information are likely to become stressed or anxious, and possibly feel physical pain. This can result in challenging behaviour. 
Autism Discovery Tool gives those working with young people on the spectrum, their family and friends a good starting point to try and understand how to minimise sensory triggers. Although what we do one day to try and reduce these triggers, may not work tomorrow, which makes trying to understand sensory processing difficulties in autism an uneasy task. The developers have really done an admirable job in helping to understand a difficult area. The app focuses on sense perception from the point of view of a person on the spectrum. 
The seven senses are represented; 
balance ('vestibular') 
body awareness ('proprioception'). 
People with an ASD can be over- or under-sensitive in any or all of these areas. You may hear this referred to as being 'hypersensitive' or 'hyposensitive'. The app uses symbol icons to represent each of the seven senses. 
Upon entering a 'Sense' area, you are presented with different contexts; 
Vision-Library setting
Body-awareness-Mini golf course
In each of these contexts you get to see what normal perception is, what it is like to be hypersensitive (over sensitive), hyposensitive (Low sensitivity) and what distorted and enhanced responsivity may look like. There is a tool at the bottom of the screen which allows you to change between each perception. Within each context various items can be tapped on allowing a dialog box to open given you various strategies that can be used to minimise sensory triggers. These strategies are added to a useful toolbox that can be used for future reference. The graphics and sound are really clear as you would expect with an app of this nature. If you are using the app with a young person on the spectrum to help them to understand their own difficulties, I would consider adapting the settings to take into account their own sensory issues.
This is a really nice little app, intelligently designed and a must for anyone working with someone on the spectrum. I feel it would also be really useful with children not on the spectrum whom may have somebody in their class with autism, helping them to try and understand how their classmate may see and feel things differently. I would say that I was a little confused with the rating of 'Ages 4±, Made for Ages 6-8' in the iTunes store. Many children of this age on the spectrum are strong and able readers, although many are not and the dialog boxes containing strategies may be difficult to read or understand for this age group. Some other points worth noting are; In the 'hearing' section the Teacher speaks instructions when touched. This is not immediately obvious unless you discover it through exploration yourself, perhaps a play symbol on the teacher would prompt users to activate the audio. Another idea that the developer may consider, is to add an augmented reality feature whereby  the user can point the device to a particular room and the perception can be changed using the same tool used for the existing contexts.
This app has become a firm favourite with staff and many children within our school and I will be definitely recommending it to parents. Well done Spectrum Idea Lab!


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From the Developer

Explore the sensory world of autism and experience first-hand some of the diversity found on the spectrum. Let the Autism Discovery Tool help you better understand and communicate about sensory and autism in your life.

Come explore, discover, and experience your way through the seven senses. Find hidden tools that deliver sensory strategies to each sense’s toolbox. Learn language to help you understand and communicate how the senses can impact life in the home, school, and community. Autistic individuals can use this app to gain self-awareness and help facilitate communication and sharing, while others in the home, school, or community can use this app to develop a better understanding of autism. Parents, teachers, therapists, and other professionals will benefit from using this powerful tool for helping others, individually or in groups, to learn and communicate about sensory and autism.


  • Explore the 7 senses, each showcasing 4 variations on a “typical” sensory experience
  • Each sense has its own unique scenario with engaging activities and interactive features
  • Find hidden tools within each sense to discover sensory strategies and fill each sense’s toolbox
  • Language, experiences, and tools facilitate and encourage better communication about autism and the senses
  • Open-ended, exploratory gaming style can be enjoyed by a diverse range of ages, abilities, and communication styles
  • Fun, interactive, low-barrier learning environment creates a unique play experience every time
  • To be shared and enjoyed amongst autistic individuals, siblings, parents, grandparents, friends, classmates, teachers, and others in the community
  • Kid-friendly – no in-app purchases, advertisements, or outside links

An essential tool for every home, school, and community setting touched by autism.

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Learning Outcomes

Key Features

In-App Purchases - No

In-App Advertising - No

Curriculum Aligned

Yes (Find out more)