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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 and a faculty member at The College of Westchester in White Plains, NY and is the founder and author of As an education technology advocate, he frequently delivers presentations on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. Walsh is also an author, and online educator, periodically running Flipped Class Workshops online. His latest eBook, the Flipped Classroom Workshop-in-a-Book was published in September, 2013 and is available here. In his spare time Walsh also writes, records, and performs original (and cover) songs (look for "K. Walsh" on iTunes or or check out his original song videos on here on YouTube ).

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