Assistive Apps for Special Needs Students

Assistive Apps for Special Needs Students

Technology has advanced dramatically in recent years and there’s been no greater impact felt than in the area of special education. The number of available apps and assistive technology tools used to help students with complex needs is truly remarkable. Today, tablets – particularly iPads – have become a staple teaching tool in classrooms throughout the country. No longer considered a novelty in education, iPads have evolved into a necessity – particularly for students with disabilities including autism, Down syndrome, and other emotional, physical and intellectual challenges.

Port View Preparatory® equips students with iPad minis in order to help them learn and better express themselves. For students with poor fine-motor skills, the touch-screen navigation is easier to use than desktop computers and offers portability along with a greater sense of independence. At Port View, Proloquo2Go is one application that is used because it combines research-based vocabulary levels, activity templates to support motor-planning, ExpressivePower™ to help students express themselves, along with full bilingual support.

The app is easy to use and is designed to support communication skills, promote language development and encourage a wide range of fine-motor, visual and cognitive skills. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the app and use it over the summer so that students’ communication skills stay sharp and are continually reinforced.

In addition to Proloquo2Go, there are other apps that our special education teachers recommend, including:

  • Dollars and Cents iPad App – Learning about money is an essential skill for anyone. This app makes it easy to develop money sense and also helps reinforce math skills. It’s one of Port View Preparatory®’s top picks!
  • Hear Builder- Phonological Awareness – Phonics is an important building block in language. Port View Prep®’s teachers recommend this app because it’s simple to use and effective in helping students better learn the different sounds in words, syllables and sentences.
  • Hear Builder- Following Directions – We all want our children and students to follow directions. This intuitive and interactive app helps our teachers to better direct students to pay attention in class and on assignments. Our students learn to follow five different types of directions: Basic, Sequential, Quantitative & Spatial, Temporal and Conditional.
  • Choiceworks – Learning to make good choices is a critical life skill for anyone. Choiceworks offers multiple instructional benefits (scheduling, waiting and feelings) in just one app. This app combines the visual schedule with a behavioral app that helps direct students to make the right choices.

Some language apps that Port View Prep® SLP recommends include:

  • Fun with Verbs and Sentences HD – This app helps students build sentences and better understand verbs, syntax, pronouns and more.
  • Picture the Sentence – This app is designed to facilitate learning the important elements of a sentence, with or without visual support.
  • Fun with Directions – This app is useful in helping students learn to follow directions like touch, open, close and much more.
  • First Phrases Light –The light version of this app teaches younger students phrase structure, including three user data settings, four simple verbs and 19 animations.
  • Inference Ace –This useful app reinforces reading comprehension skills and offers practice exercises for readers.
  • Fact vs. Opinion – This simple app shows an illustration and prompts the user to determine whether the sentence is a fact or an opinion.
  • Emotion Cards – This app helps students identify and better express emotions by showing different faces expressing tiredness, determination, anger, etc.
  • ConversationBuilder – Students enjoy this app and so do SLPs because it allows for speech practice and offers a taped response feature for making corrections.
  • Rainbow Sentences – This app helps students improve their ability to construct sentences by using color coded visual cues.

There is an abundance of additional low-cost and free apps available for download on iTunes, depending on your child’s needs and interests. If you have suggestions on other apps or assistive technology tools, please share them with us at

1 Source: The Journal: Transforming Education Through Technology