iPad Apps for Kids with Special Needs

UPDATE: Please check out our follow up post, “iPad Apps for Kids with Special Needs, Part II” for a more recent list of the best apps for children with special needs!

The iPad has gotten a lot of people excited. There are many different ways an iPad can be used as a tool for educators and students (of all abilities) to use in the classroom, as well as fun and learning at home, too! A great way to combine iPad education and fun with physical therapy is to have kids who normally use wheelchairs to stand up in a standing frame while playing iPad like Max. Often kids who use wheelchairs like to do activities in their stander that able-bodied kids may do while sitting down, so iPad time is a great opportunity to get some weight bearing in their standing frame. Let’s take a look at a few applications that are fun and stimulating for kids with special needs (they are all FREE unless noted):

Magic Piano App is fun for kids of all abilities and ages! Photo Credit D. Watson

I Love Fireworks
I-Beams Lite

Vocal Zoo
Magic Piano by Smule (Just .99)

Doodle Kids
Clicky Sticky (Just.99)

Just for Fun!
Up! By Disney (pop Ballons!)
Fart Piano (self-explanatory and guaranteed giggles!)

Communication & Speech
Dragon Dictation(more for older kids, and adults)
ArtikPix ($29.99)
Proloquo2Go (expensive at $189.99 but great as for assistive communication device)

Master List of iPad Apps for Special Education
Here is a great list of apps compiled by a school speech language pathologist, Eric Sailers. Many of the apps are for iPhones or iPods too.

iPhone, iPad and iPod touch Apps for (Special) Education

Thank you to Adaptions 4 Kidz, King of the Wild Things, Speech Language Pathology Sharing and the USA Tech Guide blogs for sharing their favorite iPad Apps with us! Be sure to check out their great websites for more ideas on fun activities for your kids!

Have you had a chance to play with an iPad yet? What apps have you tried? What would you recommend for learning, function, or fun?

41 replies
  1. Brian Simms
    Brian Simms says:

    Thanks for getting that information out into the world! I am a speech language pathologist and assistive technology specialist and have developed an app of my own. Its called Talking Flashcards. You can create a custom deck or search 1 million cards on Quizlet.com, import and the app will speak each card. Check out the website for a demo. Hope it can help our kids!

  2. Pamela
    Pamela says:

    I just released “Zanny, Born to Run”, an interactive, fun iPad app book for children with special needs–it was featured in “New & Noteworthy” section this week. It’s the first in a series of picture books for children on the spectrum, to help boost their self-esteem and understand their symptoms better by seeing characters who struggle with the same symptoms they may have. Each book covers a different symptom of ASD.

    There is also an attached “feelings game” , where kids can match the right facial expression to the feeling the character is experiencing.

    My own son has PDD-NOS and ADHD, so I have a good app tester and inspiration living with me :)

    You can reach Zanny in iTunes here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/zanny-born-to-run/id409817073?mt=8

  3. Jessica
    Jessica says:

    Great article (but you should probably edit it to reflect the real price of the iCommunicate app, which is $49.99 and not $4.99)


  4. Nancy
    Nancy says:

    I have been using my son’s iPad quite frequently to become familiar with the applications before purchasing one for myself. We decided to purchase the iPad for him due to his eyesight issues caused by Stickler’s Syndrome and because it is lighter than the laptop he was carrying. I am mainly purchasing an iPad because I work at DISH Network and they already have the ability to LIVE stream content everywhere. DISH Network’s subscription gives you the ability to watch content on smart phones and iPad wherever you go not just at home like Comcast proposes to do later this year. I invite you to learn more at http://www.dish.com/TVeverywhere.

  5. ola
    ola says:

    I have a boy who has autism , he will become 8 years after few days. I heard about some apps for ipad which can help my son to cmmunicate with others. and also for learning easily.
    but i need an apps. which has 2 languages arabic & english.

  6. Susan
    Susan says:

    I just bought my son an iPad due to the overwhelming response in parents and therapists for iPad apps – I can’t wait for him to try some of these!

  7. Joe
    Joe says:

    Looking for speaking app that can be used to put various spoken words into folders, grouped so that user can select the group of words specific for the person being spoken to. any feedback. My daughter just got her Ipad and it works great, just wondering if there are apps that can offer the use of grouping words or comments.



  8. John
    John says:

    I read your comment and thought I should mention that Proloquo2Go has this feature. I am not sure how much you know about this app, but it is great for what seems like your daughter’s needs.

  9. Doreen
    Doreen says:

    HI Can anyone tell me if you need internet connection to use apps once they are downloaded? I am thinking of a situation where a family goes camping and takes along the iPad for their child with special needs.

  10. John
    John says:

    Some apps do and some dont. It really depends on the app itself. Most will tell you when you read the description on iTunes. If it doesn’t, take a look at the website that is attached. One thing I have notice while doing some research for a project I am working one, is that there are usually about 4-5 apps that do the same general thing. Now this is tricky because each has one or two things that vary, one of them may be having to use the app while connected. Either way it never hurts to read up a little about it before you purchase it. I am building a website that will encompass issues like this if you are interested.

  11. thuong pham
    thuong pham says:

    Introduce the scientific method to preschoolers with our app and
    lesson plan. Preschoolers instinctively observe and ask questions. They also think outside the box because they are unaware of what’s normal or obvious. Have you given a preschooler a toy and watched them use it in numerous ways it was never meant to be used? They are naturally creative and innovative. This is why we think this is the perfect time to introduce preschoolers to the scientific method. It encourages creativity and critical thinking.


  12. barbara Sharp
    barbara Sharp says:

    I would like more information as to how to abtain a I Pad for special needs children. My daughter is non verbal and this would be a good avenue for her. What is the cost and where do I purchase the item? I do not have a Apple PC so how would I download the programs? Thanks

  13. Wayne Allen Bateman
    Wayne Allen Bateman says:

    Please permit me to introduce you to a new children’s educational game for the iPad and iPhone:

    Counting Beads is a totally fun way for children to learn numbers and letters of the alphabet. The numbers (or letters) appear as colored beads that you connect by dragging each bead into its next higher numbered bead. As you connect the beads in numbered order, you create a chain that follows the lead bead as you drag. This teaches the numbers visually. You can also move the bead chain by holding the device face-up parallel to the floor and tilting it slightly to let gravity roll the leading bead downhill. Even older folks can have fun with this amusing simple game.

    A brief demo video of this app is available on UTube:

  14. detrow
    detrow says:

    The app that my sister is using is the Ghostwriter Notes which my mom bought at http:/majorspot.com

    My sister is autistic so she is using the app in writing and sketching. My family can the development in her creativity.

  15. Cindy
    Cindy says:

    Noted a few major oversights here:

    First of all, TalkTablet by Gus Communication Devices has more functionality and built-in pictures than Proloquo2Go, PLUS it costs half as much! http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/talktablet-hd/id501190106?mt=8

    Second, Gary James, a dad of boys with autism, has set up a site where parents, teachers, therapists, and other caregivers can watch video reviews of all these apps for the iPad and see how they work, first hand. His reviews are detailed, thoughtful, and comprehensive, which means saving money to buy only those apps which will be the best match for the child involved. http://a4cwsn.com/apps/apps-a-z/

  16. Bryanne Freitag
    Bryanne Freitag says:

    musarat – Thank you for your question. Unfortunately we do not have info for you on how to apply for an iPad for your son that is something that you would have to discuss with the organization that you are looking to get it through. Doing a web search on this topic might also help.

  17. Lesley Denny
    Lesley Denny says:

    I’m looking for an app that can be used by an algebra student with CP. She is using number tiles but we would like to have something similar that she could take a screenshot and email her teacher her homework. Her writing is really illegible for doing math, especially with more complex equations. Any ideas? denny.l@lacklandisd.net

  18. Lakesha
    Lakesha says:

    Hi there it’s me, I am also visiting this web site on a regular basis, this web site is actually pleasant and the visitors are in fact sharing good thoughts.

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    Some of these games can bbe played online while some cann be downloaded and layed offline.
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