I have found that too often, app developers are all too willing to make a buck on apps “for special needs kids”. Many are upwards if $5, and I have seen quite a few in the $100 range. That is just plain insane. Therefore, I have not availed myself of all of the wonderful apps out there, because I don’t have that kind of money. Also, many of these apps are aimed at kids who are lower functioning than my son, and at non-verbal kids. However, the following is a list of apps that we use on a consistent basis, to the point where we would have to find an alternative if it wasn’t available anymore.
The Boy has a hard time understanding that he needs to wear a coat when it is 30 degrees outside, or conversely, that long pants may not be the best choice on a 90 degree day. Early on, we found Swackett, which gives the weather report as a picture with what types of clothing should be worn that day. Now, when he starts to argue about what he would like to wear, I simply say, “Let’s check Swackett!” and whatever Swackett says, goes, albeit not without a little grumbling. Grumbling I can take, as long as my child will not be in danger of frostbite!
I know this is a pretty obvious choice, but let me explain. You know the old saying “Your eyes are too big for your stomach”? Well The Boy’s eyes are too big for my wallet (and his allowance). He often wants, and wants, and wants, to the point of having a meltdown in the middle of Target when he can’t afford the Lego set he wants. Enter Camera: We take a picture so that he can “add it to his list”. This mollifies him enough because in his mind, we have a record to either find it again, or find it online. An added bonus is that when it comes birthday and Christmas time, I have a resource for the things I know he will like. The funny thing is, he never refers back to it, or asks to see “his list”, which may be even better for my wallet.
Another standard app, but one that The Boy uses incessantly on his iPad to write stories. It has an incredibly easy to use interface, although no bells and whistles. He never lets me see his stories (while he’s awake), but Notes is a place for him to write and store all of his creative ideas.
Yay! Another standard app! I use this one for the “Are we there yet?” phase of any trip. I show him that the red pin is where we want to be, and the blue pulsating dot is where we are. He will usually look at it for a few seconds, and that seems to satisfy the question.
I find you need at least one each of a “short” and a “long”: A “short” is one that can entertain for a few minutes, and a “long” is one that can engage for a longer amount of time. You may have to play around a bit to find which ones hold your youngster’s attention, but an example of a short might be “Talking Tubby”. Tubby repeats what you say at chipmunk level, eats cupcakes, and says “Ouch!” if you poke him in the eye. This will keep The Boy entertained while we wait for a table at a restaurant. If the wait is going to be longer, we usually pull out “Fruit Ninja”, because it has short “levels” that can be played for as long as necessary, and it can keep The Boy engaged for longer.
*This is not to say that we rely on the iPhone for entertainment in these circumstances, because we don’t, nor do I encourage the use of technology as a babysitter. But there are times when Mom needs a mental break from being “on” all day, and that’s perfectly OK.*
Which apps have you found indispensable?