7 Apps to Help Calm Individuals with Autism, Anxiety, Other Special Needs

Helping individuals with autism and anxiety calm down is no easy feat.  While weighted products and multi-sensory rooms may help encourage relaxation, they’re not always available.  One of the greatest benefits of smart devices is their portability; this makes them available whenever wherever!  If you’re looking for calming apps to have at the ready – keep on reading.

The following list features a variety of apps available for persons of all ages.  I’ll list the designated age with each app so you can quickly find one that works for you or a loved one.

Disclaimer: Before reading the list, please remember the following apps are intended for informational, educational, and research purposes only.  They are not to be used as substitutes for medical advice, diagnoses, or treatments from a doctor or healthcare provider.  If you or your child are experiencing severe anxiety, major breakdowns, and more, consult a healthcare provider to discuss possible treatment options.

7 Apps to Help Calm Persons with Autism, Anxiety, and More:

1. Chill Outz®:

It can be difficult to get children with autism or other special needs to relax.  Chill Outz® is an app that teaches children specific relaxation techniques.  It is an app designed by a child psychologist, Jacqueline Vorpahl.  The app features a collection of fun animated stories to help teach children techniques to stay mindful and relaxed anywhere, anytime.

Features:

  • For ages 3 and up
  • 3-4 minute animated stories feature multiple animals and ways to cope:
    • Buzzy Bee: teaches children how to calm down by humming
    • Panicky Penguin: teaches children how to overcome panic by focusing on breathing
    • Timid Turtle: teaches children to overcome anxiety through tensing and releasing shoulders
    • Noisy Alien: teaches children how to be okay in unfamiliar situations through body relaxation
    • Sleepy Bear: gets children ready for bed through breathing
  • Available on iTunes and Google Chrome!
2. MindShift:

MindShift is an app designed to help teens and young adults learn to cope with their anxiety.  “It can help you change how you think about anxiety.  Rather than trying to avoid anxiety, you can make an important shift to face it.”

Features:

  • For teenagers and adults
  • Helps teach individuals how to relax
    • Develops helpful ways of thinking
    • Helps them identify active steps that can help them take control of their anxiety.
  • Offers specific tools to help with:
    • Sleep
    • Riding out intense emotions
    • Perfectionism
    • Social anxiety
    • Performance anxiety
    • Worry
    • Panic
    • Conflict
  • Available for both iOS and Android devices
3. Smiling Mind:

Smiling Mind is a “unique web and app-based program developed by psychologists and educators to help bring balance to people’s lives.”  It was founded by a non-profit organization that works to make mindfulness meditation accessible to all.

Features:

  • Mission is to provide accessible, life-long tools based on mindfulness meditation
  • Divided into several programs:
    • 7-9-year-olds
    • 10-12-year-olds
    • 13-15-year-olds
    • 16-18-year-olds
    • Adults
    • Sports
    • Mindfulness in the Classroom
    • Mindfulness in the Workplace
  • Available on iOS and Android devices
4. Super Stretch Yoga HD

Yoga is a universal practice that helps millions learn mindfulness and relaxation techniques.  Super Stretch Yoga HD is a fun introduction into the world of yoga.

Features: 

  • For ages 4 and up
  • Features 12 poses which come alive with video, animation, and music
  • Breathing breaks
  • Options to do all poses or select just one
  • Available for iOS devices
5. Enchanted Meditations for Kids 1:

Enchanted Meditations for Kids is a helpful relaxation tool that can be used at home or school.  “Children can float away on an enchanted journey that will leave them feeling happy and relaxed.”

Features:

  • For children 3 and up
  • Features 4 relaxing audio tracks between 4-10 minutes long:
    • Jellyfish Relaxation
    • Underwater Dolphin Ride
    • Rainbow Relaxation
    • The Magic Rainbow
  • All recordings feature “high-quality professional recording techniques”
  • Available for iOS devices
6. Headspace: Guided Meditation and Mindfulness:

Headspace is a great start to help learn meditation.  Meditation has been proven to improve one’s focus, exercise mindful awareness, relieve anxiety, reduce stress, and more.

Features:

  • There are sessions for children, teenagers, and adults
    • Session times vary on age; e.g. children 5 and under’s sessions last 1 to 5 minutes; children ages 6-8 last 2-6 minutes, etc.
  • You can select areas you need to improve such as:
    • Relationships (e.g. patience, acceptance, change, generosity, etc.)
    • Performance (e.g. creativity, focus, happiness, balance)
    • Health (e.g. depression, anxiety, pain management, pregnancy, sleep, etc.)
    • Sport (e.g. recovery, rehab, training, motivation, etc.)
  • Available online, or as an app for both iOS and Android devices
7. Relax Melodies:

Now that you’ve learned all about techniques like yoga or meditation, it’s time to wind down with calming sounds.  The Relax Melodies app has been around for more than 8 years and the developers have never stopped improving it.  It is an intuitive tool that helps users get to sleep, relax, and focus.

Features:

  • Isn’t for any designated age group, but can benefit everyone
  • 52 “outstanding, high-quality ambient sounds and 12 brainwave frequencies”
  • Rather than just pump out white noise, the app allows users to curate personalized mixes from a rich sound library
  • Can provide background music for studying, soothing colicky babies, and more
  • Blog access to tips and articles from experts to help improve health
  • Available to download on both iOS and Android devices