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Dozens of iPad Apps for Young Students on the Spectrum, at Your Fingertips

by Kelly Walsh on June 24, 2012


Apple’s popular tablet can be a great tool for students, parents, and teachers dealing with PDD and Autism Spectrum Disorders, or with other learning disabilities or special needs.

Post collaboratively written with Gemma Jones .

The iPad has gotten a lot of people excited. Students, even those with learning difficulties, are benefiting from this technological tool. Both ability and confidence can be promoted with the help of this device. It tackles everything from numeracy to fine motor skills. Many learning strategies to target the unique learning needs of students with autism and developmental disabilities can be facilitated using the iPad.

Autism Apps app screen shot

"Autism Apps" app screenshot

Here are just a few of the many iPad apps that can help students with learning difficulties. We have also listed an excellent free app (“Autism Apps” – screenshot above) that serves as a central resource for learning about dozens and dozens of these types of applications.

Sono Flex Lite (Free on iTunes)
This is an easy to use app which turns symbols into clear speech. Sono flex is flexible and can easily switch to match individual and situational communication needs. It is easy to operate and easy for parents, caregivers or other communication partners to set up and customize. It comes with over 50 pre-made context vocabularies.

All About Me Storybook ($2.99 on iTunes)
All About Me offers text and picture support to learn and store information about the young student, and then represent these with icons representing “name”, “address”, “phone number”, “birthday”, “school”, “pets”, “family members’ names”, “friends”, “things I like”, “favorite items”, “places I go” and “computer favorites”. These icons can be individualized with audio, written text and photos for visual support.

Look2Learn ($14.99 on iTunes)
This app “allows individuals to work at their communicative level using photographs to express their wants and needs”. They can record their own audio and associate it with pictures. There is also pre-recorded audio that can be used for voice interaction. This simplified augmentative app includes a downloadable assessment tool that can help with precise customization of the application.

Calm Counter ($2.99 on iTunes)
This audio-visual app is designed to help calm down young people who get very anxious or angry. The app opens to a screen that vocalizes “I need a break” when it is tapped, and then transitions to a red screen showing an angry face and the number te. With each tap, the screen transitions “to a calmer face and color, prompting the user to count backwards from ten, followed by a deep breath”.

Touch Trainer ($4.99 on iTunes)
“A simple cause and effect app designed for an individual diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, down syndrome, or other special need, or a young child just learning about touch screen technology.” Developed by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst as a way to use “errorless learning” (the learner never fails) to teach the skills required to use touchscreen technology, while remaining in control and learning at their own pace.

Autism Apps (Free on iTunes)
This tool provides easy access to what appears to be at least a hundred apps that are being used by and with people diagnosed with autism or other special needs. Apps are grouped into dozens of categories and a search tools is also provided, so users can easily search through their excellent database of apps. Each app listed may include screenshots (for both the iPad and iPod if available), reviews, video reviews, and an “Email to a Friend” function. This is really a top notch resource and we highly recommend it.

It is easy to find more apps like those listed above by simply searching the App Store using phrases like “autism”, “aba”, “special needs”, and so on.

Do you have other apps that you have found particularly helpful for students on different parts of the learning spectrum, or apps that you have found are not worth the cost of effort to try? We hope you’ll take a moment to comment and tell other readers about them.

Gemma Jones a content writer and his interests are technology, phones, and eco living, insurance, and travel. Catch him @thetechlegend on Twitter :-)

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
5 online communities for educators working with special needs students
Do You Know About The Many Free Resources For Education Available from Apple?

15 Favorite iPad Apps As Selected By Teachers


Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer at The College of Westchester, in White Plains, NY, where he also teaches. In 2009, Walsh founded He frequently delivers presentations and training on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. His eBook, the Flipped Classroom Workshop-in-a-Book is available here. Walsh became the Community Administrator for the Flipped Learning Network in June of 2016. In his "spare time" he also writes, records, and performs original music ... stop by and have a listen!

[Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my own, or those of other writers, and not those of my employer. - K. Walsh]

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

gold account July 15, 2012 at 12:41 pm

The aim of the iPad Pilot Program is to evaluate the role of the iPad in supporting learning and teaching in today’s world.The pilot program is being coordinated by Learning Exchange, Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta and will consider the following issues:* Most appropriate learning settings supported by iPads* The relevance, appropriateness and educational value of various Applications (Apps)* Any problems that might arise either from a technical and/or learning teaching perspective from deploying iPads into classrooms.* Student engagement from use of iPad.* The possibilities for creativity and innovation an iPad may afford learners in today’s world.* Financial implications (capital & recurrent) of the introduction of iPads into schools.* Most appropriate iPad model for classroom use.* Role of the iPad in supporting students with learning difficulties.

las artes July 9, 2012 at 12:45 pm

With the advent of the 2011/2012 school year, teachers who have access to mobile technology are scrambling to find the best education apps for the iPod Touch, iPad and iPhone. Educators use apps for everything from communicating with students to inspiring creativity to dissecting virtual frogs. Luckily, we have lots of educators (including Apple Distinguished Educators) on Appolicious who share their lists of the best education apps for elementary, middle school, junior high, and high school.

Matt Hendricks June 27, 2012 at 11:26 am

Tablets have really transformed the way we teach students with learning disabilities. I teach at a school that has 3 autism units. I am going to share this blog with my collegues that work directly with those students. I’m sure they use some of these in their classrooms already, but I’m sure there are plenty more that they haven’t yet heard of.
I could even use some of these in my own general ed classroom. Many of the students are pushed into my classroom throughout the day. I had one student two years ago that would have benefitted from using the calm counter app. There were many times when he’d be in our classroom and just get too overly stimulated. Often times as I am teaching it’s hard for me to watch the clock and monitor his time outs while still teaching the rest of my class.

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