Today’s special education classrooms look much different than they did in the past. Many classrooms today are utilizing the latest technology in order to teach academic subjects, social skills and self-care skills to children with autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, those with speech or hearing difficulties and children with traumatic brain injuries. Bright games and interactive applications often captivate children and encourage them to learn new skills in a fun new way. As a result, many special education classrooms are utilizing learning apps to help make learning more fun and engaging for children on IEPs. The following list includes some of best learning apps available for special education classrooms.
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Token economy charts, sticker charts and other motivational tools are often found littering the walls of most special educational classrooms. The iPad app iReward helps special education teachers organize motivational charts. Both teachers and parents can also use the app to give instant reinforcement and feedback to children, even away from the classroom.
iReward uses custom backgrounds and tokens, including smileys, gold coins and stars as part of a token economy. Teachers, parents and students can work together to determine a reward that the child can earn after a certain number of tokens are earned. The app allows the user to take a picture of the reward so the student is able to visually connect the tokens with the reward.
Many PECS systems and communication devices can be too expensive or cumbersome for students and their families. Proloquo2Go allows an iPhone, iPad or iPod to be turned into a PECS communication device. Allowing students to use their own personal devices as a communication system also helps students to blend in with peers instead of having them feel singled out with a large cumbersome devise. The app comes preloaded with over 14,000 symbols and users can also use their own photos. Students can create single word answers and full sentences. Natural-sounding voices can be chosen, including children’s voices. There is a choice of 19 American, 4 Australian, 9 British and 1 Indian English voice.
Articulation Station Pro was created by Speech-Language Pathologists in order to help both children and adults who have speech delays. Students learn 22 sounds in the English language at the word, sentence and story levels. The app uses six engaging activities and 1,200 images in order to teach articulation. Students, therapists and parents can also receive instant auditory feedback through the voice recording and audio saving features. SLPs can use the app to teach group sessions to up to six students at a time as well.
No special education classroom is complete without a visual timer. The app Time Timer allows the students to have their very own visual timer on an iPod, iPad or smartphone. Visual timers are excellent resources for teaching time management, as well as helping children develop patience and perseverance at completing tasks. Multiple timers can be set at once, allowing students to see how many more minutes will be spent on a certain task, how many hours are left until lunch and how many hours are left until school is out, all at the same time.
These apps are some of hundreds of available apps for parents, teachers and children in the special needs field in order to teach a wide range of subjects and topics. The popular website Apps for Children with Special Needs reviews many of the newest apps in order to help parents and teachers make informed decisions on the most helpful apps for each child’s specific needs.