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