iPad Apps for Our Kids With Special Needs

Ever since the twins were the lucky recipients of a Project Mariposa SMA iPad grant last year I have been on the hunt for iPad apps appropriate for their age level (5 years) and cognitive abilities (advanced) yet simple enough for them to navigate with their limited fine motor skills*.  Thankfully iPad2 technology is advanced enough to sense even their lightest touch, but we know other children with more severe physical disabilities which prevent them from being able to use many children’s toys and so the iPad has become their gateways to their educations, entertainment, to the outside world.

In the spirit of helping other special needs families discover some great apps for their kids’ iPads, I’d like to direct you towards some ideas–and while my kids have certain physical challenges, they don’t fall into the demographic for whom many of these apps were designed.  Cognitive delays, speech delays, ASD delays, they are all included:

Say Hi!  AAC – An iPad Communication App For Those With Limited Movement

Special Needs Apps

5 Special Needs Apps You Need to Know About

Moms With Apps

Southwest Human Development library of special needs apps and reviews by therapists

One issue which never changes and I get all snarly about is that ‘special needs apps’ tend to be way more expensive than the mindless ones.  I get that these apps can cost much more to develop, but parents with a reasonable income can only afford so much.  Which reminds me, parents–ask for iTunes gift cards at all gift giving occasions if you think your kiddo would benefit from more iPad apps than anything else!

Disclaimer:  frankly, I am Team Android.  I wish and hope the apps I link to above are available for Android, but I doubt it.  If your kiddo is on a droid and you can’t find these for him or her, I sure am sorry.  Also:  HEY, DEVELOPERS.  WE’RE OVER HERE.


My boy-girl twins are 5 years old and physically disabled with a type of muscular dystrophy called Spinal Muscular Atrophy.  They are verbal, social, and intellectually advanced but lack the ability to pick up the iPad (for example).  I am very interested in the new iPad Mini and how it might be a better fit for them, but for now the iPad is sufficient for us to experiment with educational games and handwriting apps.  But we know many other families dealing with more severe physical limitations in their kiddos, and families dealing with non-physical disabilities.  All these kids can benefit from some well developed apps.  Try these out and give feedback, feedback, feedback.  UAT seems to be a lost art, let’s take these firms to task!


Cassandra can be found on Twitter @aclevergirl.  Learn more about her family’s unique challenges and why they have hope for a cure for muscular dystrophy at byrdsforacure.org.