iPad apps for children with special needs

by Guest Blogger Vicki Windman

We are always looking for tools to help special-needs children learn more effectively, so as to reduce the frustration level felt when they can not be independent or do not understand.

The IPad has become such a tool, with over 10,000,000 apps in the Apple Store.The question is, where do you begin to look for the apps you need for your child?It takes a lot of time and research, but it can be done.Hopefully, this list will be the beginning of a process that will enable your child to feel successful and increase his or her self-esteem.


Calendar apps - I personally like CalenGoo.It is $6.99.It syncs with Google Calendar, is color-coded and allows more than one calendar.It also has picture icons so I can see what I am doing and a to-do list. If you want to spend less, Calvetica is $2.99.It also syncs with Google apps, offerscolor coding and has alarms.

Agenda apps - InClass was rated Best App for young adults 2011.It is an organizer, allows users to take photo, audio or text notes, keeps tasks for the day in one place with course alarms.

Taking Notes -Notes Plus- Users can handwrite notes, type notes and record notes.You can also set up a folder for each class.

Typing papers - Dragon is a dictation program that allows users to dictate while it records.Speak It is another program which plays back users' typed-in words so they can hear their mistakes.

My area of expertise is working with the Developmentally Disabled.I have spent most of my time exploring apps to enhance communication skills, basic math skills, reading and spelling skills, and finally life skills.

Communication Skills

Best App:Proloquo2Go.It is expensive but well worth the investment if you have a student who does not have speech or has difficulty-answering WH questions.It is a PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System), which can be customized for the child.

Story Builder is a WH app that records the child’s voice when answering questions.It can be leveled based upon the child’s needs.

IQuestion is agame in which the student answers WH questions. You can focus on just one or make it random.It also has the ability to be leveled.

Look Cars is a basic app that has the student look into the eyes of the picture.The student has to identify the number.

Kindergarten.com has a wide variety of Autism Apps from Emotions to What Does not Belong.It is an excellent site and resource.

Social Skills

There are 6 different topics with videos for students to watch that are social and life skills.Everyday Skills videos include using a restroom to waiting in line.Survival Signs and Words have videos ranging from Automatic Door to Beware of Dog.


Bills and Coins also can be leveled.It has counting money making change, show the value.

In Make Change, students have to figure out the amount of money and drag it on the IPad

Math Magic works on the four operations. It can also be leveled for each child.

Kids Math is great for students who still need visuals to help them add and subtract.

Jungle Time is a telling time app using an analog clock.


Pattern recognition- for emergent readers

Analogy – is a picture analogy helping students learn inferencing skills

Spell Blocks uses the Dolch spelling words and can be leveled from Pre Primer to third grade

Pocket phonic- is for students who are just learning their letter sounds and can trace the letter to enhance the kinesthetic experience.

Mee Genius is a wonderful beginning bookshelf of twelve stories.The story is read to the student and words are highlighted.Users can add to the collection at the bookstore provided on the app.

My favorite

Teach me- you can have up to four students. You can keep track of their progress, and it's also leveled. It combines both math and English.

The list goes on and on, but these are the apps that I am using and having success with.I am constantly looking for new apps to enhance the skills we are working on. I love that ability to individualize apps for students learning goals.It is a wonderful reinforcer that accomplishes what students need to learn in a positive, productive manner.

Vicki Windman is a special education teacher at Clarkstown High School South