As millions of American students return to school in one way or another, many parents are grappling with how to go about homeschooling for the first time or supplementing their children’s education. For parents of children on the autism spectrum, this can pose special challenges and extra stress for the whole family.
Luckily, there are some awesome tools on the market today that can help families with special needs families create successful educational environments for their children. We’ve compiled a list of five of what we believe may be the most helpful apps for homeschooling families to help their autistic children succeed.
These programs may be helpful for all types of children, both on and off the spectrum, but they’re specially designed to be of use to special needs children. Happy homeschooling!
MITA (Mental Imagery Therapy for Autism) is designed as an early intervention for young children on the autism spectrum. The app uses colorful and interactive puzzles to improve children’s visual, language, and attention skills. Each game focuses on a different skill, and there are varying levels of complexity as the child progresses, allowing them to hone their abilities and feel a sense of accomplishment after each level at the same time.
2. I’m On It: Focus Timer
The I’m On It: Focus Timer app is for Android devices and helps people with ASD or ADHD (or anyone else who has trouble focusing) learn to devote their attention to a particular task. The main feature of the app is a timer, which shows up as an analogue clock, a digital timer, and a progress bar to help users see how much they’ve accomplished. You can also set reminders to go off to prompt the user to return their focus to their task if they find they aren’t paying attention.
3. Otsimo Special Education
The games on the Otsimo app are designed to teach individuals with ASD, ADHD, and Down Syndrome about the alphabet, words, numbers, colors, and emotions. The educational tool is based on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy practices. There’s also a sister app called Otsimo Speech Therapy for those with speech difficulties.
Choiceworks helps people on the autism spectrum and those who struggle with change adjust to new schedules and deal with transitions. The colorful display helps children track their daily tasks so they’ll know what they have to do and when. The app is designed to help users understand and control their emotions, improve their patience, and enhance their decision-making skills.
5. Avaz AAC
If you’re a parent of a nonverbal child on the autism spectrum, you probably already know about the apps out there that use pictures or typed text to help nonverbal people communicate. However, certain versions of this type of app also offer additional features that can help in the classroom. Avaz AAC, for example, allows you to personalize the pictures available for your child to click on. This allows you to add your child’s favorite and most-used words to their communication device, but it also allows you to add new vocabulary words to help improve your child’s vocabulary and communication abilities.
If you are homeschooling a child on the autism spectrum or with other special needs this year, we hope these apps will help make the process easier for both of you. What’s your favorite educational app or technology?
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?