We all know that our Android smartphones do a lot. They get us up in the morning, tell us the weather, keep us organized and connected with family. They’re the Swiss Army knife of modern existence.
What you may not know is that they’re doing a lot in special education classrooms as well. Android app developers have been working on programs that will help those with mental disabilities (especially autism) learn and develop.
Smartphones are becoming increasingly relevant to the special education world because it’s easier for a child to see the connection between their finger and the screen versus their hand and a mouse or a keyboard. It’s also a great way for these children to have something that culture deems to be cool. So much of what special education students do is outside the ‘norm,’ and much of the equipment reflects this. A smartphone, however, puts a piece of popular technology in their hands. Smartphones are the next logical step in a culture that is moving towards online learning and more technology in schools.
With that said, here are some of the best Android apps for special education students.
Sharing: Autism Turn Taker
Children with autism often struggle with learning to share. This app, developed by a behavior analyst, gives parents and educators a tool to actually show kids what taking turns looks like. The guardian can set an amount of time for each child’s turn, and then once the timer ends, it’s time to switch. The enforced turn-taking can help the child learn about the importance of sharing, and they can begin to initiate it on their own.
Beginning stages of learning: Show Me
Children with autism often have a hard time understanding abstract concepts without seeing them. Show Me is designed to be that interface for them. It’s based on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, which focuses on the relationship between physical things and doesn’t deal with the abstract. Show Me has different categories that children can learn about and are as varied as musical instruments and fruit. It works well with the touch screen, so it’s easier for children to interact with it.
Lesson planning: Teens with Autism
Though Teens with Autism is aimed at educators, it’s also great for parents who want to work more with their students. Parents often don’t have the ability to take classes on educating their special needs children, so it’s hard for them to know what to plan. This app makes it easy for them. It has over 200 lesson plans and a scheduler. Parents can search by theme or skill.
Rewards: Easy Kid Tokens
Another tenet of ABA therapy is that children should be immediately rewarded for good behavior and that it should be tracked. Before the advent of smartphones, parents and therapists would have to carry around notebooks and clipboards. Now, they just have to install this free app. It allows parents to take their own photos to use as rewards and personalize it for their child.
Apps are fitting more and more into modern-day life. Some of their greatest uses are still around the corner as we find out how they can fit into special education and therapy techniques. Though they’re still great devices for web browsing and playing Angry Birds, they’re becoming something far more important.