What's on my iPad? From a special needs parent

I'm a special needs parent that put together the Complete Guide to Educational and Special Needs Apps. I have a child on the autism spectrum and another with learning disability. Both have different skills deficits. They are both in their tweens and groan at anything that resembles "extra homework." That means whenever possible, I try to find entertaining games that work on certain skill sets. Here's what's on my iPad. Feel free to drop me an email and let me know what apps work great for your child. I can make a recommended list for families (). If you click on a link below, go to View this resource to be brought to the iTunes page.

by Dawn Villarreal, One Place for Special Needs


A+ Super ClichesA+ Super Cliches
My kids have a hard time with idioms. What I like about this app is not only does it give definitions to over 2,000 cliches, it also includes images and sound effects.  The app also lets you search by word or subject.  We pick one or two each evening and talk about how the cliché might be used.



ABA Flash cardsABA Flash Cards
These are really helpful for working on word categories.  Find cards on vegetables, sports, emotions, actions and more. Plus I like that it pairs the photo and word with real audio.  Great for visual and auditory learners. And they're free!



We have Blokus at home.  It’s a great multiplayer strategy game that also works on visual spatial skills.  It’s nice to take our iPad to a restaurant and play a quick game.



Bills and CoinsBills and Coins
This app uses real looking money to help your child make change using bills and coins. This one was free so I couldn't pass it up.


Chore Pad appChorePad
This app lets you set up multiple chore charts and personalize your point and reward system. Plus it comes with icons to differentiate chores.  Pay for the work your child really does. Also can be used for positive behavior. Really a great app!


Crush a LotCrush a Lot
Crush a lot is a fun game that works on reaction time and visual scanning. You must crush miniature skeletons that try to steal objects off your “desktop.” Adults can’t stop playing this game!



Dangerous DaveDangerous Dave
Dangerous Dave is a silly game where a real person rides his bike. You must maneuver him using speed and up and down buttons without running into people, houses, etc. My son thinks it’s hilarious while I know he is coordinating multiple tasks at once.


Dreams HDDreams
This is a find the difference game that my daughter loves for its whimsical illustrations while I love for working on her visual discrimination.


Drug Facts for Young ChildrenDrug Facts for Young People
This free app is a great way to introduce kids to making right choices in their lives. Topics include peer pressure, being a friend, decision making, setting goals and making positive choices. The comic book style keeps it interesting for my kids.


Hidden CurriculumHidden Curriculum for Kids
Think of this app like a quote of the day.  Except it gives you a hidden social rule on each slide. It’s a little clunky to use.  I would have liked to have some kind of search function to it. It does have a Favorite button to save the social rules that are important to you. You might like the book better from AAPC.


Clock MasterMath Tappers Clock Master
A good app for teaching time. It has a practice mode and game mode in both digital and analog clocks. A free app until September 30, 2011.



Midnight HDMidnight HD
This is a visual relaxation app that both of my kids enjoy. You swirl your fingers around the screen to move a million points of light. The more fingers you use, the more types of movements you can do on the screen. Use up to seven fingers to control the flow of light. Work on finger dexterity or just for fun. Great for kids who crave visual stimulation.


Paper TossPaper Toss and iQuarters
These are two great hand eye coordination games with fantastic graphics. These games are challenging with fans, obstacles and ricochet shots.



Pocket PondPocket Pond
This is a nice relaxation app of a pond with Koi fish. You can ripple the water and play with the fish. Really great graphics. My daughter enjoys this app because she can add her own fish and feed them. It's a good app to pull out if your child is experiencing sensory overload and you want to do a calming activity in a quiet place.



Quick CuesQuickCues
This is a great app that uses social scripts to teach users what to do and how to act in certain social situations. We have the first module called Communication which talks about phone skills, changing topics, listening and voice control. Other modules includes life skills, socialization and coping.



Railroad PuzzleRailroad Puzzle
My son loves trains. This is a fun problem solving game that works on cognitive and visual processing skills. You must slide the train tracks so that the train can complete its course before your time runs out. If the time constraint makes your child feel anxious you have the option to shake the device for a random track layout.


Skee-BallSkee-Ball and Strike Knight
Two more games with great graphics that work on hand eye coordination. The Skee-ball game can also be affected by the tilt of your device. It's a waiting room favorite of mine while my kids are at pediatric therapy.



Talking TomTalking Tom Cat
An adorable cat that repeats what you say.  Play it just for fun or use to practice articulation and expressive language. Click on the link for Tom Cat and other talking creatures (e.g. dinosaur, hedgehog, robot).



3D Brain3D Brain
A really wonderful app for therapists and parents with a deeper interest in neurology and disorders.  Click on different structures of the brain, rotate, learn about its functions, disorders and case studies.  With so much information I can't believe it's free.


Virtual RobVirtual Rob
My 12-year-old son loves Virtual Rob and most of the apps are pretty tame even though it has a 17 year-old disclaimer on it.  Each app is a continuing story with Rob ending up in a room. You can click on objects in the room and Rob interacts with them.  I would love to see Virtual Rob tackle some specific social skills topics. It would be a great learning tool. Screen these yourself and see if they are appropriate for your teen. These are all free.

Waterslide ExtremeWaterslide Extreme and Rollercoaster Extreme
Grab your iPad like a steering wheel and make your way down the track.  These fun games work on reaction time, visual scanning and fine motor skills. Excellent graphics and both are free.


Other resources

Complete Guide to Educational and Special Needs Apps

How to Pick Great Apps from a Sea of Mediocre Ones

7 Things the iPhone has that the iPad doesn’t

9 Things the iPad has that the iPhone doesn’t

Accessing the iPad: Mouthsticks, Head Pointers and Styluses

Apple iPad, iPod Touch might help people with autism take steps toward independence

Apple's iPad Brings Easy Reading to the Blind

ATMac - Empowering Disabled Apple Users

iHelp for Special Needs

iPad Assistive Technology/Disability Round-Up

iPad opens new world for special needs children

Stories: iPad Users with Disabilities

Using the iPad when you can't pick it up

Dawn VillarrealAbout the writer

Dawn Villarreal runs One Place for Special Needs, a national disability resource that lets you find local and online resources, events and even other families in your neighborhood plus thousands of online disability resources! Stay awhile and check out the site. She is also moderator of Autism Community Connection, a Yahoo group for families of children with autism spectrum disorder. Reprint permission granted by including: Reprinted with permission from One Place for Special Needs http://www.oneplaceforspecialneeds.com