4 iPad Apps Designed Educators Use for Special Needs Education

Statistics show that 8 to 10 percent of American children under the age of 18 have some type of learning disability. Children can have an array of disabilities in math, reading, speech, language, writing, and overall critical thinking. Teaching students with difficulties engaging and processing materials presented in the public school system’s mainstream classroomspresents educators withunique challenges.

Traditional techniques of teaching and learning may not resonate with special needs students, but technology is offering some solutions. Many children with learning disabilities are improving through hands-on apps for tablet devices.

The iPad is often used for its easy-to-use interface, image clarity, and functionality. Here are four iPad apps selected by experts designed for children with learning disabilities.

Rainbow Sentences App for Reading

Children typically learn better when they are engaged in an activity. Rainbow Sentences builds on that concept by color-coding parts of sentences as children read or are learning to read. The award-winning app is so successful because it assists students who have trouble understanding the parts of a sentence by grouping the different parts. The levels of the app can also be customized to the child’s learning level. The goal is to teach children how to form grammatically correct sentences, which will also improve reading and comprehension.

Rainbow Sentences is ideal for children with reading and writing disabilities encouraging development by increasing the levels of difficulty gradually as the student learns more. The app also got high marks in engagement with the student, learning approach, and support due to its comprehensive tutorial guide.

First Phrases HD App for Speech, Language, and Auditory Development

The First Phrases HD app was developed specifically for speech and language therapy. The app is designed for children under 5. The app has two different modes. The first mode is an option where the screen fills with words and the child gets a prompt that asks them to use the words to direct the animated character to do an activity. (One example may be: “Tell the bear what to do.”) When the child answers the prompt with a sentence that is structured correctly, the animation performs the action. In the second mode, the child can record themselves saying the sentence that will direct the animation. There are also several options to customize the app.

Lauded for its illustrations and different noun and verb combinations, First Phrases HD is known for helping toddlers and children with speech delays.

Cimo Spelling App for Writing and Spelling

Many children can learn to love writing and spelling if they are playing a game. The Cimo Spelling App is for children in kindergarten through third grade. The app features an extensive list of words that a child will encounter, a combination of high-frequency words and “sight” words typically taught in school. The point of the game is to help Cimo the penguin make it to an iceberg to catch fish for dinner. When a child gets a letter in a word correct, a block is added to Cimo’s bridge. A wrong letter can land him in the water. The app has different levels and a progress report for parents and teachers.

See. Touch. Learn. Pro App for Listening Skills

The See. Touch. Learn. Pro App is touted as software that can replace flash cards with more than 4,400 pictures and 2,200 exercises developed by experts. Using flash cards is a way to stimulate a child’s memory and cognitive skills, and that process got a technology upgrade through this app. A parent or teacher can use exercises that come with the app or customize their own. An online community also gives users the option to share photos and exercises. Possibilities of scenarios and prompts are almost endless.

See. Touch. Learn was created for children with autism and other developmental disabilities. Users have reported success with children with severe language and speech impairments. Custom imagery and audio prompts teach the students, which helps improve the student’s listening skills.

There are many more iPad apps that can be used for children who have learning disabilities, depending on the age and the disability of the child. These four apps have all been well-received by users and have good success rates for the child’s improvement.

Editor’s Note: BethannyAlpino is a recent graduate from the University of South Florida’s B.S. Early Childhood Education Program. She works as an intern specializing in special needs education. In her free time she is always looking for novel ways to help educate children.

Image Credit: Huff Post/Getty Images

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