Today there is app for everything, for maths, science, history, music and many more. Can these apps be useful for children with special needs? Kids with special needs cannot use the traditional approaches in learning, specially kids with autism need extra help than the rest of these children. They find it bit hard to focus on the things you teach, and process the information that is targeted. For kids like this Apps can be a life saver.
There is an app for every skill you want to impart. For example there are apps targeted:
- Improve Attention Span
- Eye Contact
- Social Skills
- Motor co-ordination
- Language and literacy
- Time Management
- Emotional Skills and Self Care
There are many apps in the appstore that facilitate Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC ) which can be highly use for autistic kids who are non verbal or speech partially impaired. These apps use text to speech technology, where kids can type words, or drag and drop images to communication with others on their needs.
Here are some of the reasons why iPad apps are so attractive for the kid's with autism and why they simply love it.
- Visual Learning - Children with autism tend to learn more visually or by touch. In most cases they struggle with instructions given in the traditional school setting. Therefore, ipad provides an interactive educational environment to help them learn.
- Structured and Consistent - Autistic children prefer devices compared to humans mostly because they are structured and constant. The voice is constant phase is constant, and they like things to be orderly and the ipad waits, which is something most human educators lack.
- Promote independent learning and gives immediate feedback - Some apps which were build for ASD gives sensory re-enforcement to the child and when giving negative feedback, it chose to give it smoothly without any loud noises to distract the child.
- Diverse Therapeutic Resource - Technology evolves and expand rapidly, so every day you see new apps with lot of creativity. Kids will not get bored, and the apps they use will get updated time to time
- Cost Effective - Compared to other therapeutic resources ipad is inexpensive. For example Assistive Technology Devices such as Saltillo, Dynavox, Tobil cost much more than the iPad.
- Socially Desirable and Portable- Most of therapeutic devices can lead to bullying in school, for kids with special needs. But if you give a child with an iPad, this makes the child popular at school (because every other kid likes to use iPad).
- Apps can be easily customised - Most apps which were developed targetting autism can be customised, you can add your unique videos, images and voice to these apps. Specially the language and communication apps, so the child can learn from the things they see in their day to day life.
Here are some of the common iPad apps which target Communication, Social, Emotional and Linguistic Skills.
- Communication - Tap to talk, iComm, Look2Learn, voice4u, My Talk Tools, iCommunicate, Proloqu2go, Inner Voice.
- Social Skills - Model Me Going Places, Ubersense, TherAd, iMove (these apps will mostly do video self modelling social stories and give step by step guidance for social stories such as brushing their teeth, going for a hair cut etc).
- Linguistic Skills - First Phrases, iLanguage/ Language Builder, Rainbow Sentences, Interactive Alphabet, Touch and Write.
- Emotional Skills - Smarty Pants.
Special Note for Educators, Teachers and Parents
Even though, there is a vast amount of apps available today, iPad is not a baby sitter, you should always be present when educating your child. The educational apps are their to help your child develop some cognitive processors or enhance their skills at reading, writing, spatial reasoning or just a way of communication. However, in order your child to grow, there should be an educator present when child is learning.. It can be a great tool and a resource for educational development but all things should come in moderation and also under supervision. It's actually quality of teaching and support that gives a positive out come, not just the device.