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Apps for Special Needs

Page history last edited by Roxann Nys 7 years, 8 months ago Saved with comment

Note: Many schools are finding that early elementary apps are working great with autistic and other special needs students, so be sure to check out those lists.


iOS devices come loaded with some amazing accessibility features. Here's Apple's guide to turning them on/off and using them.

Apple also has a dedicated page for special education.


Assistive Technology Centre 2010* Apps for ASD iPod Touch Project * has an excellent list of apps for ASD students.


Chicago Public Schools' resources for special needs teachers using iOS devices has lots of good information!


Teaching All Students A blog focused on Assistive Technology and its use in a special education classroom. The author, Patrick Black, looks at many kinds of technology and does a nice job of reviewing a number of iThing apps.


An article titled "iPad Apps for Children with Special Needs" contains a number of good recommendations. Some of the apps the author, Vicki Windman, discusses would also help regular ed children.


Many thanks to Innovative Educator, Naomi Harm, for these great resources:

  • AppAdvice.com has a collection of apps that may assist your efforts for text to speech
  • Dan King, Instructional Technology Specialist, and Sally King, Speech and Language Therapist, Innovative Educator Consulting, have done a great job putting this collection together.
  • Friendship Circle of Michigan is a non-profit organization that provides programs and support to the families of individuals with special needs They blog and have included a listing of 7 apps for assistive communication in a 2011 post.  They also have a nine part series on the iPad and useful applications. The Series contains:


Take time to read a blog post from Tech Learning Blogs by special ed teacher Vicki Windman, from Clarkstown High School South, called Five Common iPad App Questions Answered. In it, Vicki gives advice for finding apps (including links to lists she checks regularly.) Vicki also has a wiki, where she list many special needs apps by category. And, she has a video demonstrating some of her favorite iPad apps here.


Bridging Apps.org "goal is to explore practical, useful, and educationally sound ways to use the iPad and similar devices with children of all ages and ability levels. Finding the right app can be very hard, there are a lot of choices and it may not be apparent what to look for so they've developed an application review system that is focused on skills rather than age or disability." (Thanks to Laurie at Syble Hopp for this resource!)


Artik Pix App (used and recommended by Sheila K, Sheboygan Falls) $29.99  Utilizing fun and modern graphics, ArtikPix - Full has all 21 decks with 40 cards each (113 cards in r deck, 913 total cards) for the following sounds: th, f, v, ch, sh, k, g, s, z, l, r, s-blends, r-blends, l-blends, p, b, m, n, t, d, j. The decks are combined, selected for sound group (e.g., beginning th, er), then practiced in full-featured flashcard and matching activities. The features include recorded audio, voice recording, and scoring (aka data collection). In the flashcard activity, the sound groups are ordered and configured for shuffling to individualize practice for children with both the words alone and in sentences. The flashcards are then practiced in an easy-to-use flick album. In the matching activity, the words are randomized in easy (3 pairs), medium (6 pairs), and hard (10 pairs) levels. The matching activity is a fun way for children to practice their speech sounds while data is still collected.

The flashcard and matching activities include the following features:
• Group scoring in flashcards to collect data on up to 4 students at a time
• Combine card decks and specify ordering
• Choose sounds groups (e.g., beginning th, er) to practice
• Color coded cards
• Auto-play of audio recordings
• Tap-to-play audio
• Record your voice and play the recording (external mic/earphones with mic needed for
iPod touch prior to 4th generation)
• Collect data by tallying for specified sound groups (e.g., beginning th, er)
• Tallied data is automatically converted to percentage based data
• Undo tallying mistakes by tapping the numbers at the bottom of flashcards or matching
• Save data in the app organized by student names and timestamps
• Copy data to clipboard, email, and Google Spreadsheet
• Configurable options for app sounds (e.g., audio recordings) and visuals (e.g., hide
matched cards, unmatched card delay)


Roxann Nys's list of apps for special needs students

(some repeats from other lists you'll see here. Most come from recommendations of NE WI educators, many tested personally.)


Conversation Builder ($19.99--has been on sale in the past for $7.99) Becky G. from Washington Island has found this very colorful interactive app which works well for a 7th grade autistic child. She shared that overall, the iPad has been a real help for this student! Thanks for sharing, Becky! 

-Simple interface to learn the pattern of conversation
-Students record their half of the conversation
-Two group and two one-on-one conversation settings
-160 conversations to choose from
-Student can initiate or respond to conversations
-Use your own images for group conversations
-Student name, age, primary interest and city of residence are used in conversations to personalize play
-Achievements page with certificates of completion
-Student recordings are interlaced with pre-recorded audio to create complete conversations
-Conversations may be archived and emailed


Autism Apps (free) "Autism Apps is simply a comprehensive list of apps that are being used with and by people diagnosed with autism, Down syndrome and other special needs. It also includes links to any available information that can be found for each app. The Apps are also separated into over 30 categories, and the descriptions are all searchable, so any type of app is easy to find and download." Thanks to Heather D from Luxemburg/Casco Schools for sharing this great app!


Find the Letters (free/lite version or $4.99 for full version)

"Find the Letters is an education game & tool designed by special education teachers, psychologists & educators. Highly recommended for kids with dyslexia."  Thanks to Heather D from Luxemburg/Casco Schools for sharing this great app!


Dexteria ($4.99) is a set of therapeutic hand exercises (not games) that improves fine motor skills and handwriting readiness in children and adults. Dexteria’s unique hand and finger exercises take full advantage of the iPad’s, iPhone’s and iPod touch’s multi-touch interface to help build strength, control, and dexterity.


Speak It ($1.99) Text to speech solution--type your own text using the keypad or copy and paste. Have Speak it read your emails, favorite news articles, documents and more while you exit the app and do other things with your device.

LetterReflex ($2.99) Provides practice in overcoming common letter reversals such as d and b or p and q. The first activity, Tilt It, uses kinesthetic learning to teach left from right. The second activity, Flip It, allows them to practice what they learned while honing their letter discrimination skills.

Short Vowel Mahjong (free) Helps children recognize short vowel sounds. Short Vowel Mahjong keeps children engaged with child friendly graphics and sounds. The goal is to remove all 20 tiles from the board. You may remove only paired free tiles, their short vowel sounds must match. The tile is free when there are no tiles either to the left or to the right from it.

Quizzler Family (.99) Shake your device to get any number of questions your kids can ask of you, of each other or that you can ask of your kids. Helps students begin conversations. (Sarah Hall recommendation)

AutismXpress (free/$1.99 pro) Pro version currently consists of three sensory mini games...Feeling Finder randomly places 12 emotions on the screen and allows the kids to click on the emoticons and watch the corresponding animations, some are serious and some are silly but they are all entertaining. (the only option available on the free version) Emotion Matching (only option available on free version) is essentially a memory game to reveal and match identical pairs of emoticons. Expression Questions is an activity that parents, carers and teachers can play with their kids, helping them to associate the corresponding emoticon to the random emotive word. Games 2 and 3 only come with the pro version.

Relaxation apps:
Silent Island (lite/$1.99) Listen to relaxing melodies while working with other apps. Depending on the time of the day the application starts in night or day mode and suggests different melodies.  Select from nine different themes in paid versions: Morning, Break, Re-Energize, Kids, Nature, After-Work, Sleep, Dreamland and Night. (iPad version seems to be problematic...may want to stick with iPod version)
Pocket Pond (free/$2.99) free vers. allows you to add fish & dragonfly, water noises, gentle background sounds. Similar: Koi Pond (.99/iPod,$1.99/iPad)
Shake to feed your fish while listening to relaxing water sounds, has timer.
Relax Melodies (free w/ads, $3.99 premium) custom mix your favorite high quality sounds; set timer, play in background while accessing other apps w/premium version.
Rain Stick (free) Tilt your device to create the sound which is very realistic.

Word search+ (free) Easy mode gives 8 words in a variety of categories. Clicking the words takes you to Wikipedia entries about them.

Math Apps
Math Bingo (.99) choose a name, an avatar, a math skill, and a difficulty level.  When they answer questions correctly, a “bingo bug” appears on that bingo board space.  If they’re wrong, they hear a buzzer and see correct answer.  The game is timed, but not obnoxiously so.  The app keeps track of high scores, so kids can work toward improvement. Supports multiple users.
Math Ninja (free/$1.99 HD vers.) Combines arcade-style fun with math practice. As the Math Ninja you defend your treehouse against the evil Tomato-San and his loyal Cat-bots and Dog-Bots. Once you’ve destroyed them all, you enter math mode. Here you are given math problems and you must solve them quickly before Tomato San appears. Change math skills between addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, or all four skills. Advancing through the levels earns money that can be used for health and better weapons.
Rocket Math (.99) solve problems to earn coins to buy rocket parts. Challenges offered for telling time, counting,money, shapes, basic math skills and more. Launch your ship!
➤Numbers League comic strip-like math challenges
Princess PhD (free-for iPad only) especially for girls. Solve problems to earn "coins" to dress up your princess.
Count Money (.99) basic matching money or price tags or combination of both.
Counting Money (free-iPad only) Designed to help people of all ages count money. Two game play types: In practice mode the user must answer the question correctly in order to proceed to the next question. In quiz mode the user has one opportunity to answer the question correctly. There are two difficulty types, beginner and normal. You use four coin buttons to add to the tally.


Tapikeo ($2.99 for iPad/.99 iPod) Easy to use storytelling app. (thanks to Carol Leynse-Harpold for recommend!) Use Tapikeo's flexible grid design to create your own combinations of pictures (from your camera roll or a new image), audio (record your own narration or sound), and caption. One of its best features is you can lock a grid so students can't accidentally delete it. Each time your child taps a picture the sound plays as they enjoy their own customized audio flashcards, talking photo albums, storybooks, talking visual schedules, and countless other possibilities! Four demo grids: Animal Sounds, Clelia and the Cereal, Songs for Kids, and Everyday Sounds are pre-loaded. More grids available from http://www.tapikeo.com for free!


Scribble Press (Free-for iPad only-requires iOS 5) Another story creation app. A book creation platform that allows kids to imagine, create and share their own stories with great drawing and writing tools Scribble Press for iPad makes it easy to create an ebook – either write your own or use one of over 50 story templates. Turn a single page into a clipboard, puzzle, notebook, or greeting card. Over 100 markers and 100 stamps with which to create. Publish to their gallery or share via email or on FaceBook. You can now order a printed copy of your book. (Note-I did have difficulty downloading featured books from their gallery...checking on why)


Apples in Hour Hands (free) Pluck apples containing the correct time shown on the clock and try to catch them in your basket as they fall by tilting your device left and right.


iPlay&Sing (free) great for non-readers- includes a variety of games- tracing, sing a long to nursery rhymes, sequencing and more


Professor Garfield's Cyberbullying (Free-iPad only) For higher functioning students. Teaches kids about a serious issue in a fun way. In addition to the story that unfolds, an interactive "Try" and "Apply" section are included to help users gain insight to the problem. Students can try their hand at recognizing cyber threats and apply your knowledge to prevent becoming a victim of cyberbullying.


Professor Garfield's Online Safety (Free-iPad only) For higher functioning students. Through reading and interacting with the Try and Apply sections of this comic, users

learn how to use the Internet safely and effectively; understand that people online are not always who they say they are; learn that they should never give out personal information without an adult’s permission; especially if it conveys where they can be found at a particular time; understand that predators are always present on the Internet.

Locabulary (lite/$129!)  Location based vocabulary. Words are made available based on your GPS location. You can create a fast sentence using Locabulary's noun-verb-object structuring. With Locabulary, you can easily speak the right words in the right place. Definitely recommend you try lite version first to make sure it fits student's needs, as the app doesn't have any reviews as yet and is very expensive!


Doodle Fit (free) Fit the given sets of blocks into given shapes. Can be very challenging! Drag the blocks inside and outside in search for the layout that covers the whole shape. A level is complete when all blocks have been used and there's no more space free in the shape. The game features over 100 levels with different unique shapes (including letters of the alphabet) and almost 250 solutions in total for replayability.


Grocery Bingo (.99) students use the app while locating products at a grocery store. Tap the picture of the product when they find it at the store--when you get 5 in a row, you get BINGO! You can even continue playing by finding all of the items on the board for a game of Blackout.


iLove Fireworks (.99) create beautiful fireworks display by easy tap operation. Add music from your own library. Supports multiple touch/tappers. Save mode, too!

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