iPad for Autism: Selecting the best apps — 5 Minutes for Special Needs

iPad for Autism: Selecting the best apps

by Laura

“The iPad wasn’t designed with autistic children in mind, but, anecdotally, the results are seemingly miraculous,” say’s well known technology bloggers (and Apple Critic) John Gruber.

There is a lot of buzz in the autism world about the many ways that the iPad helps children with autism, for good reason.

As Ashley Harrell of SF Weekly, reports, there are other computers designed for children with autism, but a growing number of experts say that the iPad is better. It’s cheaper, faster, more versatile, more user-friendly, more portable, more engaging, and infinitely cooler for young people.

San Francisco’s own Shannon Des Roches Rosa has become a true expert on the subject. She recently won an iPad for her 9 year old son, Leo, who has autism, with a 5 dollar raffle ticket that she bought at a school auction. The iPad, Shannon reports, has benefited Leo in a BIG way.

“But before you go out and buy one,” she warns, “take your child to the Apple Store during a quiet time and let them try it out.”

OK! OK! We tried it! We like it! Which Apps?

“I did a lot of research, and there is a site called MOMS WITH APPS that lists and reviews apps by category. There are many, many apps to choose from, but the great thing about the iPad is that the interface is easy to use–just a tap and a swipe between pages. Leo was able to explore, something he hadn’t really done before, and he just kept going back to his favorites.”

Among Leo’s favorites are:

First Words

Shape Builder

i Write Words

Tappy Tunes

Stories 2 Learn

Others can be found HERE and HERE.


Shannon will be writing more about the iPad as a tool for teaching children with autism at Squadalicious,Can I Sit With You? as the BlogHer Contributing Editor on parenting children with special needs, and The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism.

Which apps are you using?

Email Author    |    Website About Laura

I'm a fifth generation Californian and live in the San Francisco Area with my husband and three sons. My oldest, Matthew, is autistic and I've been writing about my experience raising him from babyhood to young adulthood for about 4 years. I've read my stories on NPR and published them in magazines, newspapers and anthologies, including Voices of Autism. My book A Regular Guy: Growing up with Autism is available at Amazon.

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1 Heidi September 10, 2010 at 11:18 am

Many Children with CdLS (Cornelia de lange syndrome — who very often have communication issues and about half of whom also have autistic-like tendencies) have tried a communication software called Proloquo2go. Most parents say it is worth a try since it is so cheap compared to other devices that cost upwards of $5000. We haven’t tried it yet, but I thought it was worth mentioning here.

2 david cavaliere September 25, 2010 at 1:57 pm

We have a four year old son with autism that likes to disrobe and play in his diaper. We invented The Wonder Jumper: a very soft 100% cotton sleeper that zips in the back. http://www.ikidsfashion.com thanks a lot !

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