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10 Great Apps For Children With Special Needs

Adaptive technology is nothing new, but tablets and the possibilities they have opened up has created a huge wealth of knowledge and sharing of information.

Special needs apps have now gone mainstream and the options are endless. But it can be confusing too. Where do you start trying to choose the best apps when there are so many great ones out there?

As an adaptive technology specialist, working with people who have profound and multiple disabilities, I am often asked for my favorite top ten. It’s hard to whittle it down to a short list, but here are some of the ones I use regularly.

My advice to anyone, before you splash the cash, is it’s worth getting an assessment of the communication needs of the person you’re caring for. Make sure the app you are buying will allow them to engage and learn.

1. Yes/No Answers HD

A great app for non-verbal people and those with limited communication skills for simply saying ‘yes’ or’ no’, or demonstrating a choice between two options. Multiple two-choice page sets can be added and configured with pictures, audio and text as required. A great simple communication app!
Price: $3.99 (£2.47)
Answers:YesNo HD - SimplifiedTouch

2. My Choice Board

My Choice BoardAnother communication/choice-making app for people who have limited communication skills. Users can build multiple boards displaying choices of up to six on each screen. More can be added to a board but they will need to be swiped through. Each option can be configured with pictures, audio and text.
Price: $9.99 (£6.99)
My Choice Board - Good Karma Applications, Inc

3. Scene and Heard

Scene&HeardThis is a fantastic interactive communication and learning tool. There are too many features to list here but basically you can add interactive hot-spots to an image that will speak, display video or take you to another scene when you touch that area of the screen. This really does need to be checked out!
Price: $49.99 (£34.99) (Lite version is free)
Scene&Heard - tbox apps

4. Proloquo2go

Proloquo2goA full-featured augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) solution for people who have difficulty speaking – and for under £130! Again, this app is packed full of features but in a nut-shell, it offers symbol based communication pages that can be configured for a wide range of abilities. This app has the potential to save people thousands of dollars over a dedicated AAC device.
Price: $189.99 (£129)
Proloquo2Go - AssistiveWare

5. All About Me 

All About Me StorybookThis is a photo album story book and can be a really useful way of collating and displaying important information on someone who has specialist requirements but no easy way of articulating them. You could create a communication passport for example, detailing personal information such as a medical condition or likes and dislikes to help others understand their needs.
Price: $2.99 (£1.99)
All About Me Storybook - I Get It, LLC

6. Grid Player

Grid PlayerThe Grid Player allows you to use grid sets created with Sensory Software’s PC based software, The Grid 2. I probably use The Grid 2 more than any other piece of software for developing communication and computer control solutions with clients. Simply create an online account and sync your grid sets to the iPad. Unfortunately it doesn’t support switch access but is still a great app.
Price: Free
Grid Player - Sensory Software International

7. Bloom 

Bloom MusicThis is one of my favorite ever apps! Developed by Brian Eno, Bloom offers the most amazing musical and visual sensory experience. It’s been around for a couple of years now but still makes my top ten!
Price: $3.99 (£2.49)
Bloom - Opal Limited

8. Cause and Effect Sensory Light Box 

Cause and Effect Sensory Light BoxDoes what it says on the tin really but is a very cool app! There are quite a few of these apps available now such as Laserlights but this one has 21 different scenes to play around with such as glow worms and fireworks. Fantastic for any age or ability.
Price: $1.99 (£1.49)
Cause and Effect Sensory Light Box - Cognable

9. Puppet Pals Pocket Director

Puppet Pals Pocket DirectorWith Pocket Pals you can easily create unique shows with animation and audio by simply picking your actors and backdrops, moving them around and recording sound. Great as a class project or at home as a family activity. It is really quick and easy to use with great results.
Price: $1.99 (£1.49)
Puppet Pals Pocket Director's Pass - Polished Play, LLC

10. Flick Kick Football

Flick Kick FootballOkay, there isn’t really anything specialist about this one but I thought I better add one for the dads! This app should come with a warning as it is highly addictive! This is probably my favorite ever app. Simply flick or swipe the football into the back of the net with an increasing amount of defenders in your way as you progress. There are variations on a theme with targets to hit and skill shots to take. It is really easy to play. Great for some healthy family competition time!
Price: Free
Flick Kick Football Kickoff - PikPok

Share your favorite special needs apps in the comments below.

Netbuddy - Special Needs ResourcesAbout The Author
Chris Peak is an adaptive technology specialist offering free one-to-one support for www.Netbuddy.org.uk. You can talk to Chris here.

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


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Written on October 29, 2012 by:

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