Apps, iPads and Technology for Children with Special Needs

So many children have iPads, iPhones and other fancy gizmos now.   The use of iPads and apps are such a hot topic in the special needs community right now.  It’s amazing how many apps are available to address various skills from fine motor, visual motor and perceptual, motor planning, and organization to speech and language.

I often hear from many parents and professionals that they worry technology will take over from actual movement, learning, hands-on exploration and play.  Afterall, we receive completely different sensory feedback from feeling, holding, pushing, and manipulating actual bits and bobs in our hands.  Not only that, as with the TV, computer games, and other techno devices, you can really see kids’ eyes bug-out while using them, making them unavailable for engagement.  I think many of us know family and friends who are the same way. J

In my treatment sessions, movement, sensory exploration, and physical play will always be the primary focus.  However, I do see huge benefits from using iPad apps.  As with everything else, we need BALANCE.  Personally, being that I’m a traveling therapist, I struggle to schlep around all that I would like to for my treatment sessions.  The iPad allows me to travel a bit lighter.  I mostly use it for organizational supports and visual perceptual games (e.g. timers, visual schedules, hidden picture /find the difference and sequencing games).

I also particularly love how the iPad makes so much more possible for children with more severe physical needs who have a harder time moving, grasping, pushing, pulling and even talking and communicating.  I’ve read so many wonderful parent stories about how the iPad has given more opportunities to their child.


There are soooooooo many apps out there, so where do you start?

Here are some links that I found useful when I started using my iPad for more than reports and documentation….. – Apps for Children with Special Needs

This is a wonderful website with video reviews of each app that has been personally reviewed and recommended by the owner. – One Place for Special Needs has created a Guide to special needs apps that are broken down by skill set such as Fine Motor, Visual Motor, Auditory Processing, Executive Functioning and more. – A wonderful 5-part series on how to improve organizational skills for students with learning disabilities.  Many of these also apply to children with executive function difficulties, dyspraxia, SPD and more. – An article about using apps for children with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. – Babies with iPads – Special Needs Apps for Kids – Lillie’s Pad


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