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Tzvi Schectman
BY Tzvi Schectman

The Special Needs iPad & App Series

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In only one year the Apple iPad has revolutionized the tech industry. 15 Million iPads have been sold and estimates are that within the next 3 years over 115 million tablets will be shipped.

When the iPad was launched there was a lot of talk of  what exactly it would be used for. Movies, games, school work and social networking where all mentioned as possibilities. What  no one foresaw including Steve Jobs himself was the use of the iPad for special education.

One year later dozens if not hundreds of applications have been created that enhance the quality of life for individuals with all types of disabilities. The market for such applications has become so big that Apple has created a Special Education section of their App Store to cater to the special needs community.  Stories in media, among them the New York Times and the San Francisco Weekly are extolling the virtues of using an iPad for assistive communication.

To try and make sense of all of this we have put together a nine part series on the iPad and useful applications.

In this series we will try and provide guidance and resources that will make it easier for those looking for more information about the iPad, new apps and special education.

App Series articles will run twice a week for five weeks and will include:

  1. The Special Needs iPad & App Series: Welcome
  2. 7 Assistive communication (AAC) apps for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch
  3. 7 Scheduling and Behavioral Apps to help with transitions and more
  4. 11 Social Skills & Life Skills Apps in iPad App Store
  5. 10 Websites to Find Special Needs Apps for the iPad & iPhone
  6. 7 Special Needs Apps in the Google Android Market
  7. On a tight budget? 7 ways to get an ipad for your child with special needs
  8. 6 steps to get the iPad into your child’s special education classroom
  9. 4 Special Needs iPad/iPhone Apps for the Future

We hope you find this series helpful and informative. If you have any suggestions or comments on the series we would love to hear them!

More Special Needs Apps

Looking for more special needs apps? Check out the Special Needs App Review!

With over a thousand apps now available to help individuals with special needs it has become increasingly difficult to find and choose the right special needs app. The Friendship Circle App Review gives you the ability to find the perfect special needs app for your child.

Special Needs App Review

Tzvi Schectman

Written on February 2, 2011 by:

Tzvi Schectman is the Family Coordinator for the Friendship Circle of Michigan and the Editor of the the Friendship Circle Blog. You can connect with Tzvi on LinkedIn and Google+
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  • both of my 4 year old twins have special needs (we’re involved with friendship circle in Cleveland) and we got our ipad this week— so far I’m using it for the web and the calendar and the ipod functions, all stuff I have elsewhere……  I’m particularly interested in how I can create social stories using my son’s picture and my voice… I understand that’s one thing we can do.  I haven’t had time to research apps yet– just getting to know our new toy so far.  looking forward to hearing more.

  • Tzvi

    Heather. We will definitely discuss apps for social stories. If you try any that you like (or don’t like) be sure to let me know. Just click on the contact button at the top of the page. Thanks.

  • Chana

    This is fabulous – thank you!!

  • Malky

    We recently got an ipad for our 7yr old with severe muscle weakness. Due to his medical condition (including, trach, ventilator, etc.) he his schooled at home. Would LOVE to find appropriate Jewish educational apps for lower elementary age! So far there is only AlephBet Schoolhouse by Davka. Would love to see things for the parsha, yomim tovim, etc. (Have got Proloquo2go for  communication — its amazingly awesome & soooooo much easier for mom to program than the Dynavox devices!)

  • Rabbi, this is such a great blog! I just stumbled across it tonight. My 3 yr old daughter Lillie has severe cerebral palsy and cvi. Even though she is physically limited, that doesn’t stop her from enjoying her iPad and the wonders that it holds. I have a bunch of the AAC apps that I am just starting to use with Lil. And I just picked up the wireless bluetooth switch interface adapter to make a switch control the iPad via a couple of switch enabled apps.
    If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I also run a blog as a special needs resource for the iPad at I post a couple of times a week and will definitely be putting up a link to your blog for my readers. Looking forward to the future “The Special Needs iPad & App Series” posts. Great stuff!

  • Tzvi

    Kevin, First of all thank you! Glad that you enjoyed. In the series we will have a post about where to find information about iPad Apps. We will definitely include yours.

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  • Susan Havko

    As a parent of a young man on the severe end of the autism spectrum who could really benefit by the lighter weight and the various simple enticing games of the Ipad, can you please address its durability? He has had devices that seem sturdier that have been dropped down steps, bumped into protruding items and scratched heavily – and they have suffered damage. But we are getting tired of his current 5 lb device (which is sturdy enough not to suffer damage) but dies FAR too quickly and has no interesting games.
    Thank you,

  • Tzvi

    Susan to protect the iPad you may want to consider the iBallz

  • anita

    Searching for iPad info and apps and found your blog and friendship circle.  My son, Eric is 36 and has never spoken. Moderate MR and some autism.  Interested in your input.

  • Rabbi,
    Are these or other apps also on Android? I am set to get a new Pad but have not made up my mind as to the brand. I have an android phone from Sprint who has an Android from Samsung.

  • Tzvi

    Gary, Take a look at our post about Android Apps. Unfortunately there is not much available when comparing to the iPad. I expect that to change in the next 6-12 months.

  • grace gisselquist

    Looking for a device for my mom who is deaf.  A place to put words into text.  Or whatever you think will help. 

  • Ann Becker

    Looking for an IPad/android app that uses a button type accessory. My 21 yr old wheelchair bound niece doesn’t have use of arms. Rehab is teaching her to use her knee to click a button mounted to the side of her chair when her choice is highlighted on screen. It’s an $8K DynaVox computer and if I can find something along this route, I’d much rather choose this.

  • Cindy Kief

    Dear Rabbi,
    Thank you for helping to make sense of the AAC for ipad.  On my way to buy the ipad for my non-verbal twin boys for their 13th birthday!

  • Brenda

    on there is screen cap in the upper left-hand corner of an app but it doesn’t look like any of the seven apps listed below. could you tell me what this app is?
    many thanks 🙂

  • Tzvi

    Brenda, That screen shot is from iPrompts

  • Brenda

    Thanks. Sorry, I realized when I double-checked. Love your blog. Just subscribed to your feed 🙂

  • Tzvi


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  • I have just joined and need guidence please.

  • Belinda Capple

    hi im a single mother with 3 children with autism and cannot afford to buy an ipad and was wondering where you turn to be able to get one?? please help

    • ELEI

      Belinda, maybe try You could use their easy pay option. Hope that helps!

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  • A Vanmispelaar

    Lezen iPad en onderwijs

  • ECB

    I’m a Service coordinator. One of the boys on my case load who is autistic, just got an I-Pad. How can I find listings of apps which will encourage speech, and teach social stories/social situation, etc. thanks so much. 

  • tete

    what about children with Asperger. Can they benefit with the ipad?

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