The debate on whether apps and the use of handhelds for children are good or bad rages on. On the one hand, too much screen time has shown to cause headaches, delays in learning, attention deficits, and socialising difficulties. Whatever your thoughts are, today’s students belong to the iPad and Internet generation, and that’s not going to change.

It is safe to say being glued to a phone or tablet is not a good thing and may have adverse long-term effects. Used correctly, however, studies have shown many benefits of online and app programs for kids with special needs. Proving invaluable to teach students with disabilities, showing vast improvements in communication and social skills, self-directed play and critical thinking.

We asked our teachers to detail a few reasons why a child with special needs benefits from apps; we also list a few of their favourites.

1, Speech and Language Therapy

Some apps are designed to help children with speech or language delay, communicate their feelings and needs. These apps help teach essential skills for speech and language skills; they can even turn text to speech and vice versa, literally communicating for them. These apps help provide a better understanding of needs, increases the ability to learn, therefore improving the quality of life by unlocking your students’ inner voice.

2, Communication Solution Apps

TalkTablet: Text-to-speech voices and applications, encouraging growth in speech and language through creative visuals.
CoughDrop AAC: An AAC method of speech and language therapy.

3, Life Skills Apps

30/30 – tracks the amount of time spent on tasks. Helps students keep a schedule and focus.
YouNote – teaches various ways to take notes.
Google Calendar – appointments, meetings, and activities scheduler. Alerts students of upcoming events or deadlines.
Memory Trainer – game-oriented app for improving memory and visual memory skills.

4, Social Skills and Self-Regulation Apps

Grr-ific Feelings – help younger students to identify, talk about and deal with their emotions.
Four Little Corners – an interactive story platform teaching about relationships and friendships.
Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame from Sesame Street – similar to above, teaches children how to remain calm and cope with their feelings.

Apps can teach children with special needs skills essential to their successes. There are many apps available but how do you choose? Firstly, identify the skills or issues you would like to address and go from there. Take the time to find one app or more that will work for your student, and watch them engage and grow!


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