It’s a digital world, and mobile devices have become almost universal for people of all ages. Many kids have them too although most of the conversation revolves around the countless apps related to social media and gaming. The truth is, however, that the compact power of mobile computing has led to the creation to apps in fields as diverse as science, medicine, the arts and more. Perhaps best of all are the apps created to help kids with special needs. Here are five!
1. Nonverbal or Verbally-Impaired: CoughDrop AAC (iOS, Android, Amazon, Windows, Web)
For some children, verbal communication can be extremely difficult. In response, experts developed special software for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). These apps allow kids to communicate by touching the screen. In effect, the app gives words to those who can’t speak. AAC technology has proven to be especially useful for children with autism -- indeed, intensive use of AAC apps has been known to dramatically improve the speech abilities of autistic kids.
2. Socialization and Scheduling: ChoiceWorks (iOS)
Many children with special needs have a hard time sitting still and expressing their feelings. ChoiceWorks provide visual cues to help them do both of these things. It’s also a scheduling app, designed to keep your kid’s day organized and structured so they can stick to their all-important routine.
3. ADHD: Unstuck (web app, free downloadable app)
Kids with ADHD tend to have a variety of struggles, but one of the most frustrating is getting mentally “stuck.” A student might be working on an assignment, but just get overwhelmed with information, pressure, and the countless decisions required. Unstuck is a great app for tackling that feeling. It uses cognitive behavioral therapy principles to help steer the user away from unhealthy thinking, all the while helping put words to feelings.
4. ADHD: SimpleMind (Mac, Windows, iOS, Android)
Mind Mapping is a very big deal these days, especially in the creative fields. These apps use a graphical interface to visualize thoughts and ideas, and have been used for developing software, writing screenplays and just plain getting organized. Mind Mapping has also shown great promise in helping people with ADHD bring order to their thoughts and feelings and just generally get stuff done.
5. Dyslexia: Ghotit Writer (iOS, Android, Windows, Mac)
Reading and writing can be difficult for anyone, but when dyslexia is part of the equation, it can be a painful struggle. That’s where Ghotit comes in. It helps you read with sophisticated text-to-speech technology, and helps you write by employing a very advanced contextualized spelling and grammar check that predicts the word you’re looking for and catches contextual mistakes that standard spell check software easily misses. Ghotit is an expensive app, unfortunately, but it has received very high marks from parents and educators.