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What is Words in Pictures?

The first app expressly designed to give parents, teachers and specialists a practical and effective instrument for visual communication to the person affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder or intellectual disability through images, visual messages and schedules that make the world more clear and predictable.

An app that improve the integration and the independence of the user; an app that helps the people who take care of an autistic person.

Autism causes a difficult understanding of concepts that can be overcome only by the use of images to support verbal codes: Words in Pictures comes as an answer to the need for a more customizable, portable and social accepted  mean of visual communication than paper albums or PCs.

At school, at home, at the park or during therapy, Words in Pictures allows you to bring on iPhone or iPad the cards that link image and concept to be shown to the child with autism. The cards work as the “words” of  visual communication. One can easily search pictures, build messages and quickly plan their day on the agenda.

Designed by mobile app expert Finger Talks in collaboration with specialists (Parole Tue, in Milan) and parents. You can download Words in Pictures from App Store in a two-week trial mode with 5 languages.

The app has been welcomed by users and scientific communities and in Italy won the AboutPharma Digital Awards 2013 as “Best App for patients”.

Which devices does Words in Pictures work on?

Words in Pictures is designed with iPhone (from 3GS) and iPod Touch (from 3rd gen.) in mind, being more mobility-oriented, but it perfectly works on  iPad and iPad Mini (all versions).

Remember: you can activate the subscription purchased on your iPhone or iPad in another device that you own. Follow the instructions on the corresponding FAQ

Install and try the app!

Find Words in Pictures in the App Store on your mobile (iPad owner? Remind to select “iPhone app” from the top bar) to install it, alternatively, you can get it with this link:
Download it for free
Two-week Evaluation Period. Once the evaluation period has expired, the app will work in demo mode, not customizable and with limited features and symbols.
Buy through your app a 3, 6, 12 months (more convenient) subscription and restore the full-feature version and the previous save states.
With Words in Pictures you can communicate with your child and help them to live in a more predictable and calm world!

Take a look at “Buying Guide” FAQ before subscribing.

Have you already installed Words in Pictures?

Use the integrated visual help to discover how to use the app you can use, whenever you want, a practical graphic help that “shows and tells” the features currently displayed. To call it you can tap the question mark on the upper right part of the screen.

Some useful information in the “advice” section (below) and on our social networks (website footer).

Remember: you have a two-week Evaluation Period. Once the evaluation period has expired, the app will work in demo mode, not customizable and with limited features and symbols.
Buy through your app a 3, 6, 12 months (more convenient) subscription and restore the full-feature version and the previous save states. Take a look at “Buying Guide” FAQ before subscribing.

Buying guide

Here are a couple of settings that you should check in order to correctly complete the process and be sure to be able, in the future, to restore the subscription on other Apple devices you own (i.e. on a new iPhone or on your iPhone and iPad at the same time) without paying any additional fees.

Usually both settings are already active, but it is always best to check, it requires just a few steps :)

1. Check you have UPDATED the app to the latest version available (v. 2.0.3 or above) (If not , please click here and then updates )

2. WHEN PURCHASING a subscription, you will need to have an active iCloud account, connected to your Apple ID (check in the general SETTINGS of your device). Be sure to set up the same account on the new device. (Link: Set up an iCloud account )

3. Then BUY a subscription of your choice from the STORE section of Words in Pictures clicking on “BUY ” (if prompted, enter the password that you use with your Apple ID to download apps from the store )

To view the entire procedure to activate the subscription on multiple devices, please click HERE or go to the next content in the NEWS section of the app.

If you get stuck, contact us:

Can I activate the subscription purchased on more then one device?

Yes, if you own more than one Apple mobile device – such as an iPhone and an iPad, or a new iPhone that replaces the previous one  -  you can activate the subscription to Words in Pictures already purchased on multiple devices, without paying any extra cost.

It will be important, however, to pay attention to the following steps :

1. Check you have UPDATED the app to the latest version available (v. 2.0.3  or above) (If not , please click here and then updates )

2. WHEN PURCHASING a subscription, you will need to have an active iCloud account, connected to your Apple ID (check in the general SETTINGS of your device). Be sure to set up the same account on the new device. (Link: Set up an iCloud account )


3. Then BUY a subscription of your choice from the STORE section of Words in Pictures clicking on “BUY ” (if prompted, enter the password that you use with your Apple ID to download apps from the store )

4. DOWNLOAD the app on the new device with the same Apple ID used in the previous one (usually it is already set from the very first use of the device, check in the general SETTINGS of your device) . ( Link: How to set up an Apple ID ).

5. Go to the STORE section inside Words in Pictures and tap RESTORE on the top left

The purchase already made will be recognized and will activate the access to the full version of the app on the new device too.

Please note that the subscription will be active on multiple devices, but the custom content created on the previous device will not be automatically copied on the new one.

If you get stuck, contact us:

Does Words in Pictures support text-to-speach (TTS)?

We have chosen not to include TTS functionality in the app for a choice of methodology.

On the one hand the synthetic voices are, from our point of view, not clear and not natural: we have preferred to give the user the possibility to record their voice for every card, and for the entirety of the message, so that a more familiar voice can be used. This improves the understanding of the message.

The peculiarity of the app resides in its supporting the communication from the adult to the autistic child, with the additional aim to encourage an interaction from the child, but always with a managing role from the perspective of the adult. In the typical scenario, the adult will talk while they show the image without any recordings.

The option for voice recording is a feature expressly added to raise and keep the child’s attention.

Is Words in Pictures an instrument directly used by the autistic child?

Words in Pictures is not primarily designed to be directly used by the child, on the contrary, is created for those who live or work with the child and with features that will keep the autistic kid involved.

Words in Pictures is a unique app because it focuses on the ongoing visual communication to the autistic person and on the understanding of concepts.

The other applications focus on a direct use by the child (outgoing), working as an “alternative voice”, because they are often designed for all the people with communication problems without distinction.

Both the literature and the knowledge of our working team show that, on the one hand, not all the autistic people have problems with language production (some of them are non-verbal, others speak normally), on the other hand, all have problems to understand the verbal language . Sometimes answers that seem appropriate are the product of mechanical learning, routine answers or words out of context.

Setting up both the communicative dialogue -by the use of pictures – and the right environments to become familiar with iPhone and iPad is a task concerning parents and specialists. Introducing to the use of these devices is usually quick and painless; it is important to avoid the child using the means in full autonomy.

In the next stage, the child starts to consciously interact through Immaginario with the adult. The function SELECT in the agenda, which propose 2 options and by a direct tap on the screen inserts the selected card in the sequence, is a first step in the process of autonomy.

Is Words in Pictures focused only to autistic children or for adults too?

The app is designed not only for children but also for autistic adolescents and adults with intellectual disability. It is particularly effective with the children because is important to support the autistic subject since theirs first years of life with a visual aid to ease the communication and the understanding of the environment so that the child would be connected with the world and those around them.

Can use the symbols or pictures I already have in my PC?

Connect your iPhone to the PC, load the images you and your child know through iTunes and use them to create new cards.

Otherwise you can send the images via email, open the post message from the phone and, while selecting the picture, save it into the phone memory.

Remember that from the “pictures” section of the app, you can always add a new image to the cards not only from the phone memory, but also by taking a picture on the go.

When you move an image, we suggest to save it as JPG, in this way, they have a white background and not transparent or black as it happens with PNG files.

How can I print cards and images sequences?

You can take a screenshot of the card or message by pressing at the same time the round “home” button and the “power on” button on the upper part of the mobile. The screenshot will be saved into the archive “images” of your phone as ever.

From that folder you can send it via email and print it from your PC.

Important: the Symbolstix default images are under copyright, they can be used for personal purpose connected with the app but not with commercial purpose.

How to organise the custom cards for more children

You can create a folder for every student or patient. In the section “images” it is possible to create a folder by tapping on the folder with a plus on it. You can name it after the child and load their photo and create new sub levels. You can create custom folders containing the cards among which the child will choose the answer to a question or one with “emergency images” in case a problem behaviour occurs.

What about verbal autistic children? Plan, teach routines, manage problems

Words in Pictures in an app to ease the understanding of the child. It improves not only the understanding of the verbal language, but also the planning of the day and the week. It proves useful when it comes to explain to the child new contexts (e.g.: a school trip), teach routines (e.g.: get ready for going to bed) and handle problematic behaviours (by the use of visual messages set on the spot).


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Home use

Take a picture to customize the family members

In some cases is useful, to ease the understanding, to substitute the symbols of family members withthe actual photos of them. Start with the word “mom”, is not included by default… She is the one and irreplaceable

Set the table with Words in Pictures

In the Agenda you can add each element to set the table: forks, knives, glasses… To indicate the number, if the child doesn’t grasp the concept: make a sublevel, repeat the card several times (4 forks) and select with “done” the object the child has repeatedly added or turn the corresponding card (use the triangle-shaped symbol in the corner of the card)

Create and archive a list of rules and daily habits

In the section “messages” you can create a new rule or instructions by directly texting the words of the sentence or by choosing the images from the folder “good habits” or “getting ready”: the app will transform the sentence into a visual sequence to which you can associate your voice and then save.

In “my words” you can get it with a tap.

It is useful for those “rules of behaviour” that are needed in the daily life.

To teach routines and daily actions you can view in the agenda the daily activities in the desired order though the corresponding cards. For example, you can create a level with “put the pyjama on” , “wash the teeth” , “comb the hair” and “go to bed” and other sub levels of detail. If you want to repeat the activities in different days, you can save and archive the group of activities (for example “go to bed”) and load it into a new day inside the level you prefer.

Use during free time

Day out with the family in the park

Get the autistic child ready to what they see and do in the park to avoid problem behaviour: create the day in the agenda using suggested cards in the folders “free time” and the sub folder “park”. Once there, if you were to manage a request or a hindrance, you can take your mobile, take a picture and create a card with the new situation, adding it to the agendas and show the new sequence to the child. In this way, you can calm them and get them involved.

You cannot find the card of the favourite animal? Create it!

You can create a new card with the image, audio track and category you want. Take a picture of the animal directly from the app and create the card.

Or you can search for the image online, then press for a few seconds on the selection and you will be able to save it in the phone memory.



School use

At the school canteen

The meal time, in particular at the school canteen, is one of the most delicate moments because of confusion, moves and variety of meals.

The mother or teacher know how to get Mark ready to what will happen. Showing in the agenda several sequences so he can deal in a relaxed manner with the environment is sufficient. Move to a new day and, while pressing, customise the agenda with the activities and photos of the environment:

the app comes with the category “SCHOOL” with many activities ti show, but you can also create a new card in “images” or directly from the agenda by taking a picture, for example, of the child’s “PLACE AT TABLE”.

Add the sequences: IN QUEUE, TAKE THE MEAL, SIT AT THE PLACE, EAT, CLEAR THE TABLE…And the sub levels with the menu of the day.

Save the group of activities: you can quickly reload it in the next day without creating it again.

Concentration during lesson

The lesson is sometimes difficult for Tom; he has really short concentration times and in the past had reacted to requests with problems behaviours. He screamed and bit himself…It had been thought to show in the agenda the activities still to do and to insert the “pause” card. During the pause Tom can choose with a tap between two activities proposed by the speech therapist (through the function “choice” from the agenda, which corresponds to the question mark on the card). The child experiences a first interaction with the app, thus feeling engaged and satisfied. They can enjoy relaxing and well-accepted activities, working as backing for the work already done.

During therapy

Let the child enjoy the program: he can choose a snack or an activity

It is a good way to engage the child and raise their attention. It is also a first step in encouraging an outgoing conscious interaction and in knowing the medium, which will be in any case in the hands of the adult.

If you are in the “agenda” section and you want to schedule an activity, you can use the “choice” function, which can be activated by the question mark in the corner of the card. Choose a car to set it in contrast with the one previously shown and ask the child to touch the favourite activity: it will be automatically added to the agenda.

Or from “pictures” you can enter the category “snack” and from there offer the chip to choose from the card.

Remember and tell

After the treatment the speech therapist Mary take again a look to the agenda they used to plan the activities and mark the exercises that have done together. They can review the treatment and tell the mom what they did during the time spent together.


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