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More Great Apps for Special-Needs Students

Since its introduction three years ago, special education teachers have hailed the iPad for its usefulness in the classroom. EducationWorld has combed through the App Store to bring you five of the best that are designed specifically for students with learning disabilities and challenges.

For five more top picks, don’t miss the companion article Five Great Apps for Children With Learning Challenges.


This is a full-featured augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) solution for students who have difficulty speaking. Proloquo2Go provides natural-sounding text-to-speech voices, powerful automatic conjugations, two research-based vocabulary organizations, advanced word prediction, multiuser support, and the ability to fully customize vocabularies for users along a broad continuum of abilities, from beginning symbolic communication to full literacy.

Teachers working with communication-challenged students know that for successful AAC, it’s crucial that a vocabulary organization be matched to the user’s communication skill level. Educators also know that creating a vocabulary organization from scratch can be extremely time consuming.

For that reason, Proloquo2Go comes with two pre-programmed vocabulary organizations, Core Word and Basic Communication. These vocabularies, based on language development research, have been carefully designed and reviewed by Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) with extensive AAC experience.

Extra Special Kids

In this book series for children with special needs, each title features beautifully hand-drawn illustrations, along with interactive sound and movement touch features. Award-winning writer Pamela Sloane-Bradbury and veteran cartoonist Allison Garwood created these fun, witty picture books as a way of helping children with limitations boost their self-esteem and better understand their behavior.

Titles include Zanny, Born to Run, which is for children who can't sit still. Others include Little Lilly's Touch and Tummy Tastes Textures. Zanny, Born to Run is part of the very first book series written expressly for children with special needs.


Adopted by school districts, SLPs, ABA teachers and educational centers world-wide, iPACS (Interactive Picture Assisted Communication System) is one of the most popular, affordable and flexible tools for teachers in special education.

It allows users to address different educational needs by customizing information in various orders/groups or forms. In its simplest form, iPACS could mimic traditional PECS books and specialized Assistive Communication Devices, which typically cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.

ADHD Angel

Designed for use by those diagnosed with ADHD, this app offers reminders to take medication, reports that help the individual monitor his/her behavior, advice for first responders and an emergency contact area.

Provided by Dr. Phil Anderton and serving police officer Steve Brown, this app aims to keep young people with ADHD out of the criminal justice system. ADHD Angel serves many purposes, not the least of which is encouraging good self-management.

Autism Colors

Dr. Gary Brown’s Autism/DTT Color App uses Discrete Trial Training (DTT) to help children learn the basic colors. DTT is the primary teaching method used in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) to teach pre-academic and social skills to children with autism. This app also can be used to teach colors to children who have ADHD, or to students who simply have trouble staying on task.

This fully automated app has been tested among children with autism at The Children’s Treatment Center. Designed to minimize distracting stimuli, the DTT Color App is not a general-purpose game, but rather a clinically tested training approach for children with a specific type of learning disability.

Related resources

iPad App Reviews Archive

Article by Jason Tomaszewski, EducationWorld Associate Editor
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