Technology offers families with special needs a larger toolbox of resources to help manage schedules, more easily navigate through public spaces, and supplement conventional modes of learning. Below our five apps that many families may view as a lifesaver.
An open, free and global online map, Wheelmap allows users to locate wheelchair-accessible public places. Users can also find and flag less-accessible spaces. Available through internet browsers and as an app for Android, iOS, and Windows. The app relies on contributions from its users, so some more remote locations might not yet be mapped. For locations already marked, Wheelmap helps families with mobility-challenged members plan routes more easily traveled by wheelchairs or other mobility assistance devices.
Cozy is a multi-tasking app that helps families and caregivers coordinate and communicate everyone’s schedules and more. Families can track to-do lists, record memories, and share agendas. Useful for tracking therapy and other appointments, this organizer and family journal provides a shared, color-coded calendar that can send reminder alerts and let all household members see what everyone is doing and where they need to be. This free app is available on both PC and Mac, as well as any mobile device with iOS or Android.
Highly rated Proloquo2Go is a symbol-based Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) app designed to help therapists, teachers, and parents empower children of all ages to communicate. Students with limited or no speech have an alternative way to communicate with this app, which uses on-screen buttons to help the student express themselves. Highly adaptable, the app allows for custom images and adjustments to the typepad according to the student’s fine motor-skill delays or repetitive movements. Text-to-speech capabilities can speak the student’s messages in a variety of voices. Proloquo2Go, available in English or Spanish, can be purchased for $249.99 for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch devices.
This visual scheduler app for tablets and iPads is designed to provide positive behavior support for individuals who would benefit from its structured environment, particularly those with autism, communication needs, or difficulty transitioning. The app allows users to make first/then boards, visual schedules, and video models using uploaded photos, internet searches, or the in-app gallery of images. Schedules are customized to the individual’s needs and can be used to illustrate daily events or show the steps needed to complete a specific activity or routine, such as getting dressed or making a sandwich. The First Then Visual Scheduler is available for $9.99 on iTunes and $4.99 in the Play Store.
A series of language learning apps, Speech With Milo, is a playful way to help children with language delays that need extra assistance with speech. Created by a licensed speech-language pathologist, the app uses an animated mouse to entertain toddlers and young children while teaching. The Verbs version of the app demonstrates over a hundred actions, such as “bounce” or “swing.” The Sequencing app teaches the concepts of order and storytelling. The app is available for $2.99 in both the Play Store and on iTunes.