Apps for Kids with Special Needs and Learning Differences

by | October 22, 2013 at 10:20 AM | General, Parenting, Technology

Photo by iStock

By Common Sense Media

National nonprofit organization Common Sense Media has handpicked an array of apps that can give kids great practice in common challenge areas, such as communication and organization. Find ones that are right for your kids and watch them soar.

For Kids with Communication Challenges
Beginner: Proloquo2Go
Tapping “buttons” that represent words, kids can string together whole sentences. This is great for kids who have basic or severe speech challenges. Kids, parents, and teachers can also add their own photos and images to create icons, edit existing buttons, move them, or search by keyword.

Intermediate: TapToTalk
Kids who aren’t able to speak or who have limited speech can convey simple messages about what they want, how they’re feeling, and more with this verbal-assist tool. Kids tap pictures, and the app speaks for them. Note that this app is specifically designed for kids who have communication challenges.

Advanced: Toontastic
Storytelling comes to life as kids create their own cartoon puppet shows. Kids choose the setting and characters and record their own dialogue to make the stories more personal. This fantastic creative outlet lets kids express themselves and share video creations online.

For Kids with Social Interaction Challenges
Beginner: Go Go Games
Kids learn to notice differences and to focus on details. Three different games show a set of objects and ask kids to match two that look the same — an essential skill for kids with autism. Kids practice noticing colors, patterns, and sizes of objects to make a match.

Intermediate: Feel Electric!
These videos, photos, games, and emotions-related vocabulary-building activities star the cast of the PBS show The Electric Company. Kids can learn emotional awareness, expression, and language skills. Feel Electric! is full of activities that are instructive and entertaining.

Advanced: BeSeen
For teens who have difficulty relating to others, it can be especially challenging to navigate high school. BeSeen is an innovative simulation of a high school’s social network that teaches tweens and teens about being safe and responsible online.

For Kids with Organization Challenges
Beginner: Model Me Going Places 2
This is great for any kid who needs some help predicting what will happen in a new place. Kids are introduced to six sets of narrated photos that show what typically happens and what behaviors are expected when going to the doctor, playground, store, and more.

Intermediate: Time Timer
How much longer? This is the classic cry of kids — in cars, waiting for appointments, and elsewhere. This timer features red disks that get smaller as time ticks down — a great visual aid for kids who get impatient. Knowing how long things take can help kids exercise self-control.

Advanced: Wonderful Days – Diary with Style
Self-reflection and expressing your thoughts are good skills to practice daily. Kids can use text, images, and sound in their daily diary entries as they use this great multimedia creation app to form a writing routine.

For Kids with Motor Challenges
Beginner: 
iWriteWords
Learning to write numbers, letters, and basic words with technology can help kids who struggle with penmanship. By following Mr. Crab, kids see step by step how to write each letter or number. Kids can also learn letters’ names as each letter, number, or word is said aloud.

Intermediate: DotToDot numbers & letters
This dot-to-dot app can be customized for each user. Depending on kids’ motor challenges, they either touch the dots individually or drag their finger between dots. As they complete the puzzle, the app celebrates their success. A great way to develop fine motor skills.

Advanced: Crazy Formula
Make the formula pass through all the lab tubes until it gets to its final destination. To get it there, kids have to align all the lab tubes in the correct position. Kids will find this an engaging way to practice fine motor and visual skills for writing and hand control.

 

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.