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Thursday, October 17, 2019

The Best Apps for Kids With Learning Disabilities

A child plays an educational game on their iPad.
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Every child needs to study at home, and learning disabilities can amplify that need. Thankfully, there are plenty of supplemental educational apps built for kids with learning disabilities. These apps cover every subject, from reading to math to social or emotional intelligence.

All-Purpose Learning Apps

A mother helps her daughter play an educational game on an iPad.
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Most educational apps focus on one subject, like math or reading. But some aim to cover all the bases. These all-purpose educational apps can teach language and math skills, along with skills for social and emotional intelligence.

These apps can be used to teach children of all skill levels. They can be used for independent learning, but they work best when an adult is around to help.

  • Otsimo (iOS/Android): A visually engaging app that’s full of learning games for all subjects and skill levels. It’s based on the principals of Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy and can be optimized for children based on their developmental needs.
  • Khan Academy Kids (iOS/Android): This free app uses fun games and visuals to teach rudimentary reading, writing, and mathematics. It’s a lot more visually engaging than most educational apps, which is great if your child has trouble focusing.
  • PBS KIDS Video (iOS/Android): Stream the PBS channel or episodes of PBS shows for free. This is a great passive learning tool that can teach your child reading, writing, math, and social or emotional skills.

Of course, these all-purpose apps are pretty broad. If your child needs a more focused study session, then it may be worth downloading an app that’s meant specifically for language skills, math skills, or emotional skills.

Reading Comprehension

A group of kids read together.
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Reading’s not easy, but a few educational apps can help hone your child’s skills or raise their confidence. Some of these apps, like the Voice Dream Reader text-to-speech app, can also be used as accessibility tools for kids who have trouble reading.

Here are the best reading comprehension apps:

  • Rivet Better Reading (iOS/Android): Rivet is a free reading app that uses points and visuals to keep your child engaged. It’s perfect for all skill levels, and it helps round out areas where your child’s having trouble.
  • Elmo Loves ABCs (iOS): A premium app that teaches your child to identify and sound out letters and words. It includes fun learning games, along with digital coloring pages and clips from Sesame Street.
  • Autism Therapy with MITA (iOS/Android): This is an early-intervention app for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. It’s a great vocab-building tool, but it also helps reduce stimulus over selectivity (tunnel vision).
  • Voice Dream Reader (iOS/Android): This premium text-to-speech app can turn any book into an audiobook. It’s an excellent tool for any child, and especially children who get overwhelmed by books or children with dyslexia.

Of course, language is more than just the written word. Communication is just as important as reading, and there are some great apps for nonspeaking or verbally challenged kids.

Speaking and Listening

A doctor talks to a toddler.
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Even kids who are great at reading can have trouble communicating. If your child is nonverbal or has difficulty speaking, then it may be worth downloading an AAC or speech therapy app.

AAC apps convert symbols into words (like a text-to-speech program but with drawings), while speech therapy apps aim to deal with speech delays and articulation problems.

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