This blog is designed to document infants/toddlers with disabilities using an iPad to promote their development. I hope to show how this new technology can help children with disabilities develop their communication, play, pre-literacy, cognitive, visual/auditory and motor skills.
Daily I marvel at how parents of yesteryear handled having
children—especially children with special needs. Through blogs and the
Internet, there is a greater understanding of what special needs entail and
network of support for parents. Technology has also benefited the children
themselves, with all types of advances providing assistance where they need it
Communication often can be a struggle for children diagnosed
with cerebral palsy. Sometimes getting the most basic messages be a challenge and
create frustration for parents and child alike. For children with cerebral
palsy (and autism, Downs Syndrome, or other conditions that impair language and
verbal communication), a number of applications for tablets and smartphones
have been developed with their special needs in mind. Augmentative and
alternative communication (AAC) apps helps those struggling with speech to
communicate with their parents, teachers, and peers.
Children with cerebral palsy can also benefit from other apps
that help improve motor control skills. Here are some of the best apps out
there for children with cerebral palsy.
1Proloquo2Go - AssistiveWareOne of the highest rated and most popular (and
relatively expensive) apps available, this AAC program is highly customizable
and can be adjusted to a wide range of users. This text-to-speech program
generates speech by tapping buttons with symbols/icons or typing on-screen. It
features a range real children’s voices from which to choose, and can be
personalized with a combination of icons and photos. Best of all, this program
is easy to customize and personalize on-the-go. Here is a video of theProloquo2go being
used by Max, a nine-year-old-boy diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
2TapToTalk™ - Assistyx LLCLike Proloquo2go, this is a AAC program. A
free application, it offers solid basic text-to-speech needs, but does not have
quite the vocabulary or flexibility of its more expensive competitor. However,
if you purchase the customizable version, you will be able to add more words
and images (including your own photos) as needed.
3Yes-No - Smarty Ears From the
Smarty Ears stable of AAC applications, this basic, quick and easy application
only offers a choice between yes and no, but is a great program for non-verbal
or pre-verbal children to quickly get across an answer. The two-choice sets can
be configured with pictures, audio and text as needed to illustrate the
difference between the two choices.
4iComm - BappzAn excellent AAC application for quick
choice-making, iComm comes with a number of pictures and voice recordings of
colors, shapes, letters and body parts, with the option of customizing with
your own photos and recordings. All the child has to do is select the images
that correspond with point they want to communicate and create a short
5First Then Visual Schedule - Good Karma
Applications, IncA great tool
that helps children to better understand their daily schedule—especially for
those with a rigid timetable. Foreknowledge and understanding of next steps can
help decrease frustration and anxiety in children, especially with those with
limited communication skills or understanding of sequences. A selection of
photos and voice prompts (you can record your own) allows you to create custom
schedules that walk children through their routines.
7Dance Party Zoo - FIZZBRAIN LLCA fun way to practice balance, coordination,
and rhythm (while engaging children in always needed physical activity), Dance
Party Zoo is a dancing game that provides children feedback about how well they
did at keeping rhythm via a simple graph. Not only are children able to pick
their own zoo animal as an avatar, the after each session, they can watch their
avatar replay the dance.
8Dexteria - Fine Motor Skill Development -
multiple-award winning app, Dexteria is a set of therapeutic hand exercises.
Used on a regular basis, this program can build strength, control, and
dexterity. A great program to improve fine motor skills in children’s hands, so
as to get their handwriting-ready. Dexteria has an automatic tracking and
reporting feature that allows you to monitor progress.
9Injini: Child Development Game Suite -
NCSOFTThis collection of
learning games target toddlers and preschoolers with cognitive, language, and
fine motor delays. Injini entertains and engages children with 10 feature
games, 90 puzzles, over 100 illustrations and more, while helping them practice
their fine motor and language skills, and improve spatial awareness, memory and
to Run. With beautiful illustrations, pictures that move by touch,
and an audio narration this interactive app is part of a book series written
specifically for children with special needs. While not directly aimed at
children with cerebral palsy, the story focuses on acceptance, tolerance and
understanding of people who are “different.” This program comes with a game
that helps children recognize facial expressions and feelings.
And here’s a short bonus list of apps that are not
specifically targeted for children with special needs, but are for preschool
aged children and so still can be used as great tools for development.
1iEarnedThat HD - Kidoc, LLCAn excellent non-verbal and
interactive motivational tool to keep your child working towards a goal. Take
any picture of a desired reward and turn it into a 3D interactive jigsaw puzzle
(of up to 60 pieces), set the goal and how each puzzle piece is awarded, and
encourage your child as they earn their desired prize one piece at a time.
2iTouchiLearn Life Skills: Morning Routines
for Preschool Kids - StaytooonedTeach your child virtual morning routines that
can translate into real world activities. Each level is achieved only by
completing a unique activity in the prior level; children earn star rewards for
successful completing a goal. This interactive program reinforces life skills
in a fun, approachable manner.
3Monkey Preschool Lunchbox - THUP
GamesA great way to introduce
your child to letters, colors, shapes, counting and pattern recognition.
Children earn reward stickers to put on their own virtual canvas board by
helping the monkey fill his lunchbox with fruit through solving puzzles and
other learning games. Added possible bonus: convincing the picky eater to try
eating something that’s featured in the monkey’s lunchbox.
is a freelance
writer in the
Los Angeles area. Her oldest son has cerebral palsy and it was her special
needs lawyer that
first suggested many of these apps, all of which she now uses on a near-daily
Hello my name is Christina Yauch. My daughter,
Victoria, was diagnosed with Cri Du Chat Syndrome at a six month well visit in December 2010. Cri Du Chat is a very
rare chromosomal anomaly and most doctors have never seen a case of Cri Du
Each year in the United States, approximately 50
to 60 children are born with 5p- Syndrome (five p minus), also
known as Cat Cry Syndrome or Cri du Chat Syndrome.
5p- Syndrome is characterized at birth by a high pitched cry, low birth weight,
poor muscle tone, microcephaly, and potential medical complications.
"5p-" is a term used by geneticists to describe a portion of
chromosome number five that is missing in these individuals. Children born with
this rare genetic defect will most likely require ongoing support from a team
of parents, therapists, and medical and educational professionals to help the
child achieve his or her maximum potential. Years ago, it was common to place
children with 5p- Syndrome in institutions with other severely mentally impaired
individuals. During the early 1980s, research revealed that those raised in
family settings with the benefit of early intervention programs made remarkable
progress, far exceeding the expectations of doctors who first described the
syndrome. Most individuals who have 5p- Syndrome have difficulty with language.
Nearly all children with 5p- Syndrome have poor muscle tone when they are
young. Other characteristics may include feeding difficulties, delays in
walking, hyperactivity, scoliosis, and significant mental impairment. Both
children and adults with this syndrome are usually friendly, happy, and enjoy
social interaction. With early and consistent educational intervention, as well
as physical and language therapy, children with 5p- Syndrome are capable of reaching
their fullest potential and can lead full and meaningful lives. (Taken from 5p-
Victoria has been using an iPad since she was
about 8 months old. It has been a wonderful experience for the whole family.
She uses the iPad to teach basic cause and effect skills and as a motivator
during PT and OT sessions. She is also learning communication through choice
making apps and the yes/no app. Victoria uses the Talkboard app to let us know
she wants to eat or drink. We created a board with a picture of a bowl, a toy,
and a photo of herself. If she is hungry, she taps the bowl and it repeats back
to her "breakfast" I love the app because it's easy to use and adapt
to your child's needs. We use the same app to involve Victoria in repetitive stories.
I am also planning on making her a photo album with the entire family's photos
using the My Family app. The My Family app allows you to add photos along with
a recording of the name of the person in the picture. She can tap the photo to
move through the album.
Victoria is doing extremely well with the iPad
and I am very happy we introduced her to it so early. She had really progressed
since the introduction of the iPad. It is so versatile, in that it can be used
for entertainment, learning, communication, etc. I really like the fact that it
can grow with the child. You can download the appropriate apps for your child's
age and cognitive level. Victoria's favorite apps are listed below:
We have been devastated, humbled, and blessed
since her diagnosis. Victoria is
a beautiful, happybaby who lights up the room with her smile and giggles. She has
taught everyone around her more in her short life of 20 months than most will
teach their entire lives. She continues to progress and surprise us every day. Through her hard work and the hard work of her phenomenal
therapists, Victoria is already
surprising the medical community with her accomplishments. She is absolutely
amazing and makes an impact on everyone who meets her. To learn more about Cri Du Chat Syndrome, please visit www.fivepminus.org.