There is so much out there about applications for children with special needs. I’ll start with the most important group—the kids! Judging by a sample of one (my son), the silly apps are the most interesting. He is a teen, likes music, repetition and cause and effect. He is verbal but his conversational skills are pretty limited. So he enjoys any apps that make burping and farting noises, play back what he says or where a character engages in slapstick humour. The good thing is that many of these apps are free (Talking Tom, Yumm, Squeak My Voice, Jiggle-it, Songify, Voice Changer, Burp Freak) so I don’t feel so bad when I hear me repeating “Time to put the I-pad away and come for supper” in a voice reminiscent of Alvin and The Chipmunks. Because these apps are interesting and fun, they turn the whole device into a potential reinforcer. Remember, a reinforcer is anything that motivates a person to increase a particular behaviour or set of behaviours. The I-pad is portable and small enough to fit on most laps. However, you can still find a lot of amusing sites on a computer and computers are more readily available and accessible to our children and learners. The downside about using an I-pad as a reinforcer is that it may be difficult for the learner to give up—but that’s another topic.
There are also a whole group of applications out there directed at parents and professionals. Some provide training, problem solving and teaching. You could find programs that teach emotions, matching, categories, same/different, phonics, printing and sight words for example. There are applications on behaviour that simulate life situations and rate your ability to deal with problem behaviour. One app that I have found useful as a parent is StoryKit. StoryKit allows you to write social stories which often help children with ASD deal with anxiety about new situations, locations or activities. You can import pictures into the story which you create. Text can be moved around the picture to make it more connected. The best feature is you can read the text and it will record your voice or you can comment on the pictures without reading the text. It also has a paint feature where you can draw or colour.
The following links will help you by providing menus of what is available and what is used but again, it’s up to you to customize it for yourself, your child or your learner:
Autism Apps is a resource available on the App Store that lists apps being used by people with autism and related disorders. Many apps are affiliated with TouchAutism.com and there are over 30 different categories from which to search.
Use the following link to review some of the apps and their costs being used in the schools: http://www.provincialautismcentre.ca/uploads/assets/ASD%20iTouch%20apps%20Welsford%202010.pdf
Apple has created a “Special Education” category in the iTunes App store: http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewMultiRoom?fcId=399470755
Here are some other Apple links: