iPad apps for special needs kids
Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 8:50 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 8:50 a.m.
The iPad can be an effective tool to help many kids with learning differences or special needs.
Here are some of the top special needs apps that help build skills — from identifying emotions to communicating to practicing social and perceptual skills to recognizing word reversals and more.
Touch and Learn — Emotions
From Innovative Mobile Apps, best for ages 3-up, Free, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
This is a great free app to use with kids who need practice deciphering emotions.
Kids play by looking at four photos and then touching the photo of a person showing a specific emotion. You can customize the app by selecting which emotions are shown, adding your own photos and determining whether the requested emotion is spoken as well as displayed in writing.
From AssistiveWare, best for ages 2 and up, $189.99, iPad
For speech-impaired kids, “Proloquo2Go” becomes the child’s voice. While uncommonly expensive within iTunes, this app charges more because it has a very limited market, required years of research to create, and is constantly updated for free.
The app provides a pictorial interface for kids to use. Known as an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device, the app lets kids tap on symbols or type to direct the iPad to speak for them. It can be customized to provide simple or detailed speech, using clear expressive voices. Kids even have the option of having a child’s voice speak for them.
LetterReflex — Overcoming Letter Reversals & Backwards Writing in Early Childhood Development & Dyslexic Children
From BinaryLabs, Inc., best for ages 4-up, $1.99, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
If you have a child with dyslexia or a preschooler who is frequently mixing up his b’s and d’s or p’s and q’s, this app helps with recognizing letter reversals by having kids play two different games. In the first, which uses the tilt aspect of the iPad, kids direct marbles into the holes formed by b’s, d’s, p’s, and q’s. In the second game, kids flip words that are formed incorrectly to match a target word.
The Social Express
From The Language Express, Inc, best for ages 6-up, $89.99, iPad
For kids who have trouble understanding social situations, this app lets them learn by role-playing through 16 interactive lessons.
Presented as video vignettes starring four animated kids, the lessons clearly reveal the characters’ facial expressions and body language. Kids experiment to see what the right behavior is in typical social situations. By interacting with friendly characters that kids can easily relate to, players learn how to start conversations, be a part of a group, look for hidden rules in social situations, make inferences from sequenced situations and more. While expensive, this app delivers visually-rich and detailed environments rarely seen within the app world. The app is meant to be explored by a child and adult together.
For more information, download the free “Autism Apps” by Touch Autism which divides special needs apps into 30 searchable categories. Also helpful is a new compilation by the non-profit Common Sense Media called the “Power Up! Apps for Kids with Special Needs and Learning Differences” found at www.commonsensemedia.org/guide/special-needs.
Jinny Gudmundsen is the author of the new book: iPad Apps for Kids, part of the For Dummies series, which contains a chapter on Special Needs Apps. Contact her at email@example.com. Follow her @JinnyGudmundsen.
Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.