The ipad has been such an incredible blessing in our lives. It has given our son the ability to communicate and learn in ways that he is not otherwise easily able to. Below is a list of apps that we regularly use with him, and find to be the most helpful for his unique learning style.
My Choice Board
This is the most basic picture communication app that we were able to find. Adding choices is as easy as using the devices built in camera to snap a photo, then recording yourself making the request. The user simply taps the picture of what they want, then taps it again to have the app speak for them. There’s no need to learn picture symbols (PECS), or understand how to form a sentence. Our son was able to start using this app at 20 months old, with developmental delays. Trust me when I say that it’s very basic and user friendly. Also, you cannot beat the price of $9.99.
Jab Talk is the most basic communication app that we were able to find for android devices. This app is free and extremely easy to set up and customize. It is not quite as basic as “my choice board” but it is still quite easy to learn and it also uses photographs and voice recordings as opposed to picture symbols. We have never used this app with Caleb, but we did install it and give it a “test spin” and found that it was very basic and to the point.
This is an adorable, fun and easy to use app that teaches children about different instruments and music. When you select an animal/instrument, it brings you to an animation of the animal “playing” a classical song on the instrument. There’s all kinds of information that goes along with each available selection making it an appropriate choice for a variety of ages and developmental levels. Each selection has an option for the user to “play” the instrument, which keeps them engaged and having fun.
I’ll be honest, I find this app to be annoying, but I cannot deny the fact that we are successfully using it to teach Caleb his letters. You can play the alphabet song to a variety of different animations, learn how to write letters, do matching and puzzle games, and much more. I particularly think that the “coloring book” section of this app is fantastic. There is a different picture for each letter, it tells you the name of the color that you’ve selected, and it repeats the letter as you color it in. It’s essential to our app collection, and I would highly recommend it.
This app is absolutely fantastic. It’s a simple animated flashcard app that includes 100 everyday words. Caleb can easily sit through all of them in a row. They also offer “100 animals” “100 vehicles” and “100 people” which are equally great. What I particularly like about this flash card app is the fun colors and cute music that plays in the background. It makes learning feel more exciting, as opposed to the plain white flash card apps that we’ve tried.
This app is gross, but I love to hate it. It’s a step up from where Caleb is at right now, so it doesn’t keep his attention too well, but I don’t think he’s too far off from understanding it. My best guess is that it’s at the level of a typically developing 2 1/2 – 5 year old. It has very basic educational strategy games, and the graphics and animations are impressive. If your child is learning at a pre-school level, and they like bugs, I would recommend it.
Go Go Games
This app is designed to support children with autism. It features three different matching games that introduce the concept of “same” in fun and creative ways. It’s simple, the animation is great, and it is ideal to use with a child who already understands the concept of matching or needs some assistance in this area.
This is a fantastic app for learning the names and sounds of animals. It’s very easy to use and includes a variety of photos and sounds for each animal selection. Caleb has spent many hours observing and learning to mimic animal sounds with this wonderful app. I would highly recommend it.
ABC With Vocabularry
Vocabu “Larry” squawks each letter as the user swipes through the alphabet. This is yet another simple but effective tool for learning letters and objects. It is designed for the iphone, but we use it on the ipad mini without any issues.
Toddler Counting 123
This is a very basic app that teaches children to count. A variety of objects will display on the screen and a narrator will count each of them as you touch them. It’s simple, yet effective.
Zoola First Words
This wonderful animated flashcard style app teaches young children basic words and concepts while allowing them to interact with each slide. The quality of the artwork is great, and there are many slides from a variety of different categories to choose from.
Interactive Alphabet by Piikea Street
This interactive alphabet app presents the user with a menu of all of the letters. When you select a letter, it brings you to an animated, interactive screen which repeatedly says the name of the letter, what it sounds like, and a word that begins with it. You can interact with the animations, and go on to the next letter or back to the main ABC menu with ease.
Build It Up
This app is like a simple digital stacking toy. It’s the first strategy app that Caleb has been able to understand and engage in. His frustration tolerance is low, so he frequently gets mad at it, but he always goes back to try again. This is a fantastic app to use to introduce the user to the concept of putting objects in a certain order. I would suggest using it as a teaching tool to work with a user who isn’t quite past the level of a simple cause and effect style app, but is working towards understanding more complex concepts.
Please check back periodically as we will be adding our new favorite apps to this list as we come across them!