Teaching children with special needs using iPad

While schools were slightly more cautious than businesses in adopting Apple’s iPad, the hugely popular tablet is now appearing in plenty of classrooms and helping thousands of children. Few have felt the benefits quite as much as those with special needs however, and iPad is being heralded as a fantastic learning tool for children with learning difficulties.

Teachers and parents alike have been praising the device’s profound effect on skill development recently, with two distinct reasons given for its success; the technology itself, and the wealth of specially tailored apps available.

The technology

Everything about an iPad: the size, weight, shape and interface make them an ideal tool for children who struggle to learn with traditional computing technologies. iPad is the pinnacle of touchscreen technology, something seen as a huge breakthrough in assistive learning tools for children with special needs. It provides a level of interaction previously impossible with traditional computing technologies, with particular benefits for children with autism developing communication skills. Unlike using a mouse, keyboard, or even touchpad, iPad’s touchscreen bridges the gap between human-computer interaction; making something happen is as simple as touching it with your finger.

The apps

This is where iPad excels in assistive skill development: teachers, parents and programmers across the UK and US are realising the potential of this technology and have built their own specialist apps. There are now hundreds available from the App Store, carefully designed to help special needs teachers and carers including tools for:

1. helping children deal with potentially stressful social situations such as crowds;

2. making communication easier for those who cannot speak or have language difficulties;

3. developing fine motor skills; and

4. improving cognitive skills.

To help schools find the apps relevant to their teaching needs, databases (which are not driven by advertising and do not receive referral fees) have sprung up all over the web. Here are a few that could help you:

  • iPad Apps for Autism on Squidalicious.com – reviewers include an adult speech therapist and an autism sufferer.
  • SNapps4kids.com – lists over 700 apps categorised by skill learned rather than disability.
  • a4cwsn.com – Apps for Children With Special Needs features 500 video reviews of useful apps.
  • iAutism.info – A database containing over 400 apps for iPad and iPhone.

To find out how Apple’s iPad can assist your students with special needs, call our Education team on 03332 409 333 or email learning@Jigsaw24.com. For more news on technology in Education, follow @Jigsaw24Edu on Twitter and ‘Like’ Jigsaw Education’s Facebook page.


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