Today’s social and medical culture seeks to identify children with special needs, or learning disabilities, early on. While in the past, many children struggled in school due to a lack of explanation for their varied learning styles, today we seek to empower children with special needs by providing modified, effective learning tools. A number of app developers have jumped on the wagon to make learning technology accessible to children of all capabilities, creating a wealth of apps targeted to children with special needs. Basic development and learning should be engaging and fun for all kids, and these apps foster just that!
Communication can create a barrier for children with conditions such as Cerebral Palsy or Autism. Often, getting the simplest of needs across creates frustration and difficulty for both parents and children when talking is tough. iComm comes pre-loaded with a number of stock pictures and recorded descriptions of colors, shapes, letters and body parts. However, the true advantage of this app is the ability to upload your own photos and voice recordings. To communicate via the iComm app, children simply select the images of the items that represent the point they want to communicate and create a short sentence. As a bonus, this app is also highly recommended as a communication aid for toddlers who are not yet fully speaking.
Whether your child struggles with maintaining positive behavior, or not, this app is a stellar tool for parents of children of all ages. iEarnedThat helps children and parents track and reward good behavior by giving a visual of working towards a reward. Parents and children choose a reward item of an appropriate value. Perhaps a trip to the zoo, a new music CD or even larger rewards such as a bike! A photo associated with the reward is then turned into a jigsaw puzzle. As parents recognize positive behavior, children are given a piece to the puzzle until the puzzle is complete and the reward is received! Whether you’re trying to keep grades up, keep a chores in check or simply reinforce positive actions, this is a handy app.
Off We Go!
Oftentimes children with special needs are uncomfortable in unfamiliar situations. The Off We Go! Series was designed to help children prepare for unfamiliar, and often terrifying, experiences by providing a step-by-step guide of what will happen. With two titles available that explain going to the dentist and riding on an airplane, these books offer explanations of upcoming events that are easy to comprehend and fun to read.
For children with speech issues, ArtikPix offers an engaging way to practice sounds and words at home. The app comes pre-loaded with a set of “th” sound flashcards, however 21 decks of flash cards focusing on various sounds are available for purchase of about $2.99 each. Children are prompted to practice the sounds which are presented visually, with a picture of the featured word, and with a voice recording. Children and parents also have the option to record their own voice saying the word so that practice becomes personalized.
First Then Schedule
This app is an ideal tool for caregivers of those with developmental delays, autism or individuals who thrive under highly structured and consistent schedules. Designed as an audio-visual aid, a library of stock pictures allows caregivers to create custom schedules that walk individuals through their routines. Complexity may range from a full day to simply using the restroom or getting ready for mealtime. Photos and voice prompts lead users from one step to the next and help individuals prepare for upcoming tasks to help lower anxiety and frustration. With great graphics and the option to use your own voice and photos, this app has received high marks from caregivers.