Top 10 Apps for Children with Disabilities Parents who are raising children with disabilities have their own unique toolbox of resources that help them with the daily challenges of life as a special needs parent, and technology is often high up on that list. The rise of mobile devices has changed the game when it comes to parenting (as any mother of a three year old will tell you!) but particularly when it comes to disability and special needs. Here are 10 of our favourite apps:
1. ABA Flash Cards – Emotions
Description: Identifying, understanding, and responding appropriately to emotions is a very important skill for every child. This app covers over 20 different emotions via gorgeous flash cards and interactive games. Why we love it: Anything that helps our kids recognise or process their emotional responses can only be a good thing. This is a fantastic resource for parents of children who are on the autism spectrum, and you can customise the flashcards with your own voice, for added familiarity.
2. Barn Door Four: Home Edition
Description: Barn Door Four is a fun app for children with autism and other developmental disabilities and learning difficulties. It follows four barnyard friends that teach different Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy skills. Why we love it: Our favourite apps are educational ones that are sneakily disguised as fun games to play. These characters create an enjoyable and interactive learning environment for kids to engage with. Parents and teachers can also program their own lesson plans for targeted interaction.
3. iDo Chores – Daily Activities For Kids With Special Needs
Description: iDo Chores is an innovative and comprehensive application for learning to take care of the house. It includes routine household tasks such as sweeping, straightening the room and washing dishes. Why we love it: What’s not to love about an app that makes doing chores easy and fun? It’s simple to use, practical and helps create a set of reassuring routines for daily use. Plus, it teaches independence and helps get those jobs done around the house!
4. RIDBC Auslan Tutor
Cost: iOS – $39.99, Android – $20.00
Description: This app has been designed to help anyone wanting to learn Australian Sign Language (Auslan) and communicate with someone who is deaf. It is designed for families of young deaf children to promote communication. Why we love it: We love this because it is hands down the best resource to facilitate communication for the deaf and hard of hearing. It’s easy to navigate and simple to use, with over 500 signs that are demonstrated multiple times in single words, phrases, and sentences. There’s a free version too.
Description: Wheelmap is the app for Wheelmap.org, a free and global online map for wheelchair-accessible places. Users can find, mark and add accessible (and less accessible) public places on a virtual map, with comments and photos. Why we love it: Anything that makes it easier for disabled people to get out and about gets our thumbs up. We love that this helps people find ways to get to the places they need to go, and the easy-to-use traffic light system makes it simple for everyone to follow. It’s the wheelchair-accessible version of Wikipedia.
6. Physiotherapy Exercises
Description: This app allows you to search for exercises appropriate for people with spinal cord injuries and other neurological conditions. It is a handy reference for physiotherapists and other professionals. Why we love it: This one might seem a little bit dry and dull, but it’s a truly comprehensive and useful resource. With over 600 exercises, you can search by condition, exercise type, body part, equipment available and age category. The line drawings clearly illustrate each exercise, making it very user-friendly.
7. Text Detective
Description: Text Detective reads text from the camera in your iPhone or iPad within seconds. Point the camera and sort through mail, read menus, cards, product packages, medication labels and lots of other kinds of text. Why we love it: This is one of our favourite examples of technology making life easier for everyone. Not only does it have a helpful point-and-read text option, it also allows you to edit and paste text into documents, emails or other apps. You can use it anywhere with no need for network coverage – even on planes.
8. Pill Alert – Medication, Prescription Reminder and Tracker
Description: Pill Alert is like a personal assistant who makes sure you take your meds on time. Enter the schedules and it will remind you to take your medications, and it also keeps track of everything in a personalised log. Why we love it: Let’s face it – life gets busy, and sometimes that means important things get forgotten. This app makes taking meds simple and uncomplicated – no more need to rely on your memory. It supports multiple profiles, so you and the whole family can use the same app. It also auto syncs to iCloud.
9. Tom Taps Speak
Description: Tom Taps Speak is specifically designed with parents and speech therapists, to help people with communication impairments. It is picture-based and has a friendly text-to-speech function. Why we love it: We love that this was conceived by a father to help his son – diagnosed with autism – to communicate with the people around him. Who better than to come up with this kind of software? The bright colours and sweet illustrations are perfect to engage the attention of little kids.
10. Category Therapy – Speech Rehab for Categories
Description: Category Therapy is a professional speech therapy app that practices mental organisation skills for individuals with language challenges due to stroke, brain injury, or developmental disorders. Why we love it: Parents of kids with special needs know that health professionals are their greatest allies, and this fantastic tool can be used in conjunction with professional speech therapy. It’s appropriate for learners of all ages and abilities, and can also benefit users with autism, Down syndrome and other conditions.
We hope you found our list helpful, though we realise that this is just a very small taste of what is available. There are many amazing apps that have been designed to help kids with disabilities and special needs, and new ones are being developed all the time. It can be hard to keep up with, so we’d also love to hear from you – let us know what your favourite special needs apps are.