The Best Apps for Children with Cerebral Palsy
By Casey Daniel
Having trouble deciding which apps are worth purchasing for your child? While it’s fantastic that so many special needs apps are available, it can be tough to decide which ones are the most beneficial. We’ve compiled a list of some of the best special needs apps out there – and written a quick synopsis of how each one works! Read on to learn about some of the best assistive communication and educational apps available.
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) apps are useful for children who are nonverbal or who have speech impairments. They assist communication and language comprehension with a variety of tools, including text-to-speech voices.
MyTalkTools Mobile AAC (99.99)
MyTalkTools Mobile is a next generation AAC app that helps people with communication difficulties say what they want with sequences of words, sounds and images.
Proloque2Go is the most well known of all the assistive communications apps on the iPad. It is also one of the priciest. Proloque2Go is a full-featured augmentative and alternative communication solution for autistic children who have difficulty speaking. Easy to set up and use it provides natural sounding text-to-speech voices, high resolution up-to-date symbols, powerful automatic conjugations, a default vocabulary of over 7,000 items and is fully expandable. The app is very easy for individuals with special needs to navigate through the menus. It has a beautiful graphic display and great voice quality. Proloque2Go is definitely a better bet on an iPad than an iPhone or iPad.
TouchChat HD – AAC ($149.99)
TouchChat HD for iPad® / iPod® / iPhone® is a full-featured communication solution for individuals who have difficulty using their natural voice. TouchChat is designed for individuals with Autism, Down Syndrome, ALS, apraxia, stroke, or other conditions that affect a person’s ability to use natural speech. TouchChat provides both English and Spanish options in one universal app supporting iPhone®, iPod®, and iPad®.
Tobii Dynavox Compass (first month free, then $29.95/mo)
The Compass app provides a research-based communication solution for individuals of all ages and abilities who cannot use their natural voice to participate in their everyday lives. In addition to the exciting and dynamic communication options available at your fingertips, the Compass app uses the cloud technology to manage and update your communication pages anytime and anywhere.
My PlayHome describes itself as “the original and best doll house app. Massively interactive, your kids can explore and use everything in the house. The characters eat, sleep, shower, brush their teeth and more. Want the room to be darker? Close the drapes! Fancy a change in music? Pop a different CD into the stereo!”
Available for iOS, Android, and PC.
SoundingBoard transforms your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch into the latest in communication technology. In just minutes, you can create custom boards with up to 20 message locations using AbleNet symbols or your own photos.
This free mobile augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) app is designed for children who are unable to speak (or who have limited speech) to help them communicate. In order to meet the needs of this particular population, the app comes with preloaded boards using symbols with recorded messages. Students select and press images on the board to prompt a verbal message.
iCommunicate by Grembe, Inc. ($49.99)
According to Grembe Inc., iCommunicate is a customizable iPad app used to “design visual schedules, storyboards, communication boards, routines, flash cards, choice boards, speech cards, and more.” Ideal for speech pathologists, this app uses an image library to assemble visual representations of schedules (like “Go to the park at noon”). Audio messages can be attached to any image within the image library. iCommunicate helps regulate routines and enable nonverbal users to indicate their wants and needs. This app is appropriate for both children and adults. Read more information and reviews.
I Can Speak by Lazy River Software ($29.99)
This iPad app is designed to be simple and intuitive. A nonverbal user can install it and be communicating in sentences moments later. When using I Can Speak, there are two primary areas of the screen – a “static area” and a “dynamic area.” The static area contains phrases with which sentences commonly begin (like “I am”), as well as common words like “and” or “with.” The dynamic area is divided into two lists – Words and Activities. The Words list can contain up to 5,000 different words, while the Activities list holds collections of words needed for different activities (like “using the bathroom”). Once a user has assembled a sentence, an automated voice reads it aloud.
The following education apps are designed to help children learn and practice speech, reading, and even math. Our top picks for educational apps:
ArtikPix by Expressive Solutions LLC ($29.99)
ArtikPix grants kids the opportunity to practice speech articulation using flashcard and matching activities. Some perks of this app include a built-in scoring system and the ability to create and share your own cards, as well as audio and visual options to customize the app to your child’s specific needs.
Bob Books #1 – Reading Magic by Learning Touch ($3.99)
This interactive reading app “introduces and reinforces beginning reading concepts.” Recommended by reading specialists, Bob Books #1 uses phonics-based vocabulary and drag-and-drop tiles to teach phonemes and word recognition. Difficulty levels are easily adjustable, and this app may be used in conjunction with standard, paper-based books from Bob Books.
First Words Deluxe by Learning Touch ($4.99)
First Words Deluxe teaches letter and word recognition to toddlers. This app combines all words from earlier FirstWords apps – Sampler, Animals, At Home, and Vehicles. There are over 100 words for toddlers to learn, as well as two new categories, Colors and Shapes.
TeachMe – Kindergarten by 24x7digital ($1.99)
This versatile app has won awards from About.com, SmartAppsForKids.com, and the Best App Ever Awards. Like a portable kindergarten classroom, it teaches sight words, spelling, basic math, and more! Parents can choose subject matter and adjust difficulty levels. Versions of TeachMe are also available for toddlers and children in the first through third grades.
Share Your Thoughts
We love feedback, so please let us know how you like any of the apps listed above. Sharing your experiences can help other families make constructive decisions about their own app purchases. We’d also love to know about any special needs apps you would personally recommend, so don’t hesitate to drop us a line – your recommendations might be featured in a future blog!