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Penina Rybak
BY Penina Rybak

23 Tech Tools to Help with Behavior Management

It’s holiday season! That means increased and diversified activities; at home and in school. This can bring increased stress and disruptions in routine for our children with Autism and special needs who may display real difficulty with change, and resist “going with the flow”.

  • Think holiday parties and family gatherings.
  • Think winter vacation and altered schedules.
  • Think shopping marathons, group outings and grocery runs
  • Think about visiting friends and relatives who may try to be “helpful” when seeing a tantrum about to happen, or a meltdown in progress.

Questions to Consider

  • How can we proactively counteract all this and try to prevent the behavioral outbursts that can and will pop up?
  • How can we explain what’s going on to the uninitiated?

Two Unwritten Rules to the Rescue

Here are two unwritten rules to consider and share as needed. I also suggest adding these great and inexpensive related iPad Apps to your wish list and/or  gift options:

1. The environment is not our friend!

Modifying the environment means physical changes after verbally and visually preparing the child and the uninformed adults around him/her.

We need the child to fully understand what’s in store, what’s happening now, and what will change. We need to therefore prepare the child visually and verbally for the unfamiliar or changing environment. How? By talking to the child beforehand about what he/she can expect from seeing___ or doing ____ . We need to emphasize the target vocabulary that can help the child comprehend and internalize that which may be different than expected and different than the usual.


  1. Social Stories
  2. digital camera/photo Apps
  3. The Crayola™ Color Me a Song Toy.

10 Recommended iPad Apps:

  1. SonicPics
  2. Stories About Me
  3. Photo Transfer App
  4. Sago Mini Doodlecast
  5. Strip Designer
  6. My Pictures Talk
  7. Videoshop
  8. Drawing with Carl
  9. Drawing Pad
  10. Notability

2. Technology is our friend!

Tablets and smartphones can be loaded with educational and entertaining Apps that can help a child practice and retain learned vocabulary and skills, become “grounded” when overwhelmed by the surroundings, and communicate wants/needs more effectively than just “acting out”.


Tech” can be used as both an intrinsic motivator to cooperate i.e. a reinforcer for good behavior,  and also as a portable “teacher” to help the child find ways to make requests instead of tantrums, find ways to stay occupied, and find ways to review and internalize target vocabulary and/or specific concepts.


Seven Suggested Links:

  1. Karina Barley’s Digital Learning Tree’s ‘Best iPad Apps’ List
  2. Tony Vincent’s Learning In Hand: ‘iPad As the Teacher’s Pet v2’
  3. Lauren Enders ‘Pinterest’ Boards
  4. Lois Jean Brady’s Post on ‘Educating and Motivating Students on the Autism Spectrum’
  5. Med Kharbach’s ‘iPad Apps List’-Educational Technology and Mobile Learning Blog
  6. Smart Apps for Special Needs Site
  7. Common Sense Media: Special Needs Apps Guide

Ten Recommended iPad Apps:

  1. Innervoice
  2. Stick Around
  3. MyPlayHome
  4. Sound Touch
  5. StoryBuilder for iPad
  6. Toca Hair Salon 2
  7. My Incredible Body
  8. Sequencing Post Office
  9. Describe It to Me
  10. Paint My Cat.


We can alleviate some of the guesswork and confusion in advance if we do our homework and help the children do theirs. Preventive intervention trumps crisis intervention, particularly when it comes to social skills development! Visual supports, especially digital ones created with the use of mobile Apps,  can truly help the child cope with changes in routine. Prepping the setting and those in it, to interact more effectively with our children,  is so crucial, especially this time of year! Prepping the child’s environment and those in it are AS important as prepping the actual child for this happy, noisy, busy, and often chaotic time period.

I always quote this immortal advice:

“If I see it, I understand it.”
— Dr. Temple Grandin

Good luck!

Penina Rybak

Written on December 8, 2014 by:

Penina is an Autism Specialist and Educational Technology Consultant, who created the soon to be published Socially Speaking™ Social Skills Curriculum and already deployed Socially Speaking™ Social Skills Assessment Protocol iPad App. Visit her website for more information:

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