Top 10 Apps for Children with Autism

14 06 2016

Part of the work that I do as an AT Specialist is to help teachers and therapists select, acquire, and use apps for children in their programs. I was honored to present to the SimpleK12 learning community a webinar on the Top 10 Apps for Children with Autism. \

Here are my Top 10 Apps for Children with Autism (in no particular order)

  1. Proloquo2Go
  2. TouchChatHD
  3. Pictello
  4. Choiceworks
  5. Visual Schedule Planner
  6. Autism DTT Pro
  7. The Social Express II
  8. Cause and Effect Sensory Light Box
  9. The Zones of Regulation
  10. Autism Tracker Pro

Here is the link to the presentation.

To view the webinar on, Click here 

Have an app that makes your top 10? Leave a comment! I hope this list is helpful as you work with children with Autism in building independence!




App of the Week- Motion Math Play Pack

27 03 2014


***It’s been quite some time since I’ve written about an App of the Week, but I found an app that is really cool and felt it was time to dust this part of the blog off. ***

Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 2.45.54 PMMotion Math Play Pack is a powerhouse mathematics app for children of all ages. Motion Math Play Pack consists of six apps rolled into one. The six apps are Match, Wings, Fractions! Questimate! Hungry Fish, and Zoom. For the $19.99 price tag, it is an investment that will pay off in the fun kids will have when using this app!

Upon opening the app, the user is greeted with a simple interface that highlights each app. From there, users can select a game,  add a user. change settings, or check a user’s score.

Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 2.49.17 PM

One of the great beauties of motion math is the ability to track progress and add multiple users. For teachers with only one iPad, this makes it easier to use with multiple students. Teachers could also create a “class” user and use Motion Math for guided practice or a whole class lesson.

Each app within Motion Math:Play Pack covers a specific foundational skill or mathematical concept.

• Motion Math: Fractions! Covers fractions, decimals, percents, and pie charts.
• Motion Math: Zoom.  Is a number line like no other- completely interactive and fun. Covers integers, negatives, and decimals. Place value is addressed eloquently in this app, and the pace is pretty quick- but fun!
• Motion Math: Hungry Fish. Feed the fish in this interactive addition and subtraction game that becomes increasingly complex with each play! Helps to build mental math concepts in addition and subtraction and becomes complex to where a user can add and subtract positive and negative integers.
• Motion Math: Wings. Covers multiplication concepts in different visual forms. Users must “fly” their bird to the correct answer, construct the multiplicaton tables, multiply quantities, and more. The longer one plays, the more challenging it is!
• Questimate! Is a truly unique way to cover the concept of estimation. Users create a question, estimate the answer, find out who is closer, uncover the answer via web source or interactive example. The game continues in different modalities- for example, a question may be represented in a visual example where a user will have to pinch the image to estimate the answer.
• Motion Math: Match. Match the equations and make them disappear in this hugely engaging game of building foundational skills and automaticity in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

Testing this app was a blast. There is great potential in this app to use with a variety of students for a multitude of purposes. I can’t wait to try it out with kids!

Common Core Aligned, Motion Math Play Pack offers a lot of bang for the price. Volume Purchasing Program is available for Educational Institutions. Overall, it’s quite a stellar app.


Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 3.11.14 PMScreen Shot 2014-03-27 at 3.06.40 PM








App Wheels

21 11 2013

I stumbled across some really cool blogs and wikis. One is by Alan Stewart, who shared this app wheel for apps for students with Dyslexia and Learning Disabilities.
iPad appsDyslexia


The other wiki I’ve known about for a while is apps4Stages. Started by Madalaine Pugliese, who is the Program Director for Assistive Special Education Technology; Associate Professor of Practice in Special Education at Simmons college, she and her students have come up with some amazing app wheels that contain a wealth of information regarding the relationship between apps and bloom’s Taxonomy, as well as seven developmental stages of app use for children with significant disabilities.

ASD Wheel Full Pickering_Padagogy_2012 padwheelV2.001

For those that are visual, these would be great to post in classrooms, or to use on a bulletin board, or to just add to your list of bookmarks/pins/diigo lists!

Apps to Boost Early Literacy Skills

23 10 2013

It has been quite a while since I’ve posted. The start to the school year has been extremely busy, as I had to suddenly shift roles and go back in the classroom part time to co-teach in our Developmental Learning Center. It’s allowed me to spend some extra quality teaching time with some of my favorite kiddos!

Earlier this month, we had the honor of welcoming Dr. Kathleen Whitbread to our district to train staff in literacy instruction for students with significant disabilities. What came out of this training, for us, was validating and supports building the foundational skills in the  5 areas of literacy instruction.

The National Reading Panel has identified 5 components that are central to reading achievement. They are:

1. Phonemic Awareness

2. Phonics

3. Fluency

4. Vocabulary

5. Text Comprehension

Mutli-sensory instruction for many of our students with significant disabilities has been shown to improve student learning outcomes in these aforementioned areas.  In our line of work, the primary focus is around the area of Phonemic Awareness. From what we learned from Dr. Whitbread, Phonemic Awareness is one  of the areas that children with significant disabilities struggle with There are a plethora of apps that support and reinforce these skills for students. So, with the information that was gleaned from Dr. Whitbread’s talk earlier this month, I have a list of my favorite Apps to Boost Phonemic Awareness.

Apps to Boost Phonemic Awareness:

Word WizardWord Wizard  is a talking movable alphabet that allows children to see and hear the letters and sounds as they spell words.  By dragging each letter onto the board, children are receiving constant feedback about either the letter name or sound, which can be customized within the app settings.  Children can build words or sentences and have the app read them back. It’s a great multi-sensory tool to boost phonemic awareness.



Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 10.24.07 AMReading Raven for iPad is one of the most comprehensive apps that not only work on phonemic awareness skills, it takes the child through the stages of early literacy in a fun and engaging manner. While the  app is equally engaging and reinforcing,  it will be important for teachers and parents to observe their child while interacting with the app to measure knowledge and advancement. The characters in the app itself are engaging, and having Reading Raven alongside the journey of learning is equally comforting and reinforcing. Overall, it’s a sound app that’s packed with a wealth of learning for young children.



Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 10.16.19 AMLexia Reading is the app counterpart to the popular computer-based literacy intervention that’s been proven to work with children with a variety of learning challenges. Lexia is based on the 5 components that are central to reading instruction, and provides teachers with detailed progress reporting via their online module. Support materials for teachers and parents are also contained within the teacher module, which help to reinforce identified areas of  strengths and weaknesses based on student performance within the app.



Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 9.41.57 AMMontessori Crosswords is similar to Word Wizard in that it is a talking movable alphabet. However, Montessori Crosswords is more foundational in that it provides structured phonemic awareness instruction by starting with helping children to understand that words are made up of sounds or phonemes.  For each word, children can touch the empty rectangles where letters must be dragged to complete the word, and hear the sound the corresponding letter produces.  Furthermore, the app helps children memorize the phonics associated with letters by providing a phonics-enabled alphabet where kids can touch each letter and hear the associated sound(s).



Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 10.21.32 AMStarfall ABC’s helps boost phonemic awareness in allowing children to explore the letters of the alphabet while learning about the corresponding sound of the alphabet. While this is not as comprehensive as the website, it offers a great way for children to become exposed to the alphabet and sounds.




Providing children with multi-sensory opportunities to learn and explore that they can also access is integral to their learning. The advent of tablet technology affords children to explore and learn in an independent manner, while teachers are able to assess and monitor progress. Dr. Whitbread tells us to persevere. When it appears that children are not learning or making progress in terms of phonemic awareness, don’t give up.  They may just need more time and practice.

More about Dr. Whitbread:

Dr. Whitbread’s Website

Open Books Open Doors

Kathleen Whitbread on Twitter

The New iPad- Is It For You?

19 04 2012

Recently I have reached a milestone. Last month, I celebrated turning 40. What better way to celebrate than buying oneself the new iPad. Of course I have my son, husband, in-laws and grandmother to thank for contributing to the cause.

Happy birthday to me....

Initially, I was not going to buy it. I was perfectly happy with the district-issued iPad 2 I was using for evaluations and testing apps. I loved the size, the camera was okay -though not as great as my iPhone 4’s camera. It did what I needed it to do, and can do what I need it to do for the students that I work with. I could customize work easily, record video, use apps and existing content. With  the addition of PaperPort Notes, dictation was all set.

However, after seeing the new iPad in person, I wanted one. I opted for a white 32 GB wi-fi model. I don’t need 3 or 4 G as I’m not planning on using it in my car, or in a jungle somewhere. Why did I want a new iPad over the iPad 2?  Here are a few reasons:

1. The display

2. The camera

3. Built-in dictation

4. The design

I ordered my new iPad and anxiously awaited its arrival. Of course, setup and configuration was a snap as usual with any iOS device. The same Accessibility features that I love on the iPad2 are the same on the new iPad. Once I had it set, I had to play.

What I first noticed was the display. It almost looks 3D to me. It’s vibrant, crisp, and super sharp even at close range. There is not as much pixelation as there is in older iPads. To illustrate, I’ve taken a couple of pictures.

The picture on the left hand side is of the Messaging app on the iPad 2. I got as close as possible with my iPhone camera without blurring the image, however, it does. It doesn’t look too bad, right?

That is until you look at the same icon on the new iPad. Note that the app icon is more vibrant all around. There isn’t as much blurring as there is in the ipad2 image with the same distance.

Apple touts the new iPad as having 4 times as more pixels than the iPad2. The retina display is amazing.

This may not matter to the average user, but from an Assistive Technology standpoint, it’s huge. This better display affords me to assess students with low vision or scanning issues and compare with better accuracy. Content can be even closer than before without as much of a chance of it blurring. Exciting!

The next task was to test the camera. I love to take pictures. I’m an Instagram-a-holic when it comes to my phone. I like using the iPad2 camera for taking pictures of existing content for a student and using it in a different way. So, I had to test the new iPad camera out.

The first image was taken with an iPad2. The image on the right was taken with the new iPad with its 5 megapixel iSight camera.

There is a discernable difference when taking pictures with the new iPad. The image is more stable. It’s crisper, and focuses quicker on the things I need it to.

In terms of using the camera to document student work, students, and transforming existing content, this tool will help to ensure that what is being delivered to students is not blurry and can be seen well.

With Dropbox, taking existing content and loading it onto other students ipads will be super easy. I think this camera may rival my iPhone’s. I probably should test that theory another time.

What has me the most jazzed is the built-in dictation. This means that ANY app that has a built in keyboard will allow users to dictate. Wow. I had to try this out in several ways. Dictating an e-mail was a snap, as was dictating in the notes app.  I tried dictating in Evernote. Amazing. I also tried Splashtop Remote Desktop to remote into my computer, open a blank Pages document, and used the dictation feature of the new iPad. Imagine my sheer delight when the words appeared on the document.

Dictating on my computer using Splashtop and the new iPad

Why is this a big deal? It was just cool that it could be done. If a user has more than one tool – say, a laptop, or has limited mobility, Splashtop can now be used in a different way besides just controlling a computer for display.

Lastly, the contour of the new iPad is more comfortable in my hands. I am a voracious reader. I’ve been recently reading on the iPad2. Finding a comfortable way to hold the device while reading has been a challenge. With the new iPad, the devices fits comfortably in my hand – particularly in landscape mode, which is how I like to read. It feels as close to reading a real book as it can get. While it’s just as comfortable in portrait mode, it’s not my preferred method of reading on the iPad.

So, is the new iPad right for you? If you’re looking for a sharper camera, built-in dictation, comfort in use, and brilliant display, then this is the device for you. I’m amazed at how Apple can continue to make an already great product even better, and I’m looking forward to using this to create and share content with students and teachers.

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

2 03 2012

March 2 is Dr. Seuss’ birthday. With that comes a day filled with reading, celebrations, and more. Schools all across the country participate in Read Across America, which epitomizes the whimsical and innovative spirit that embodies Dr. Seuss.

In thinking of innovative spirit, I am also reminded of Steve Jobs and how the iPad has truly transformed learning for a variety of students. In this vain, Oceanhouse Media has created a  littany of Dr. Seuss interactive books for young children that truly engage, motivate, and grow with young children.

To celebrate and honor Dr. Seuss, below are my favorite Dr. Seuss interactive book apps.

Green Eggs and Ham

That Sam I am! He’s always trying to get his friend to eat Green Eggs and Ham! Nothing beats trying new things.

Oh, the Places You Will Go!

This one’s particularly special to me. My parents gave me this book when I graduated High School. I was a teenager with a whole life ahead of me. Sometimes I still read this to remind myself that it’s possible to accomplish anything you set out to do.

 There’s A Wocket in My Pocket

Who doesn’t love having a wocket in their pocket? Or other things? This tale just gets sillier and siller- something I love most about Dr. Seuss.

 The Foot Book

This one is another all time favorite. When I was a child, I read this book so much that the binding came apart. For some reason, Dr. Seuss made feet seem interesting.

Oh, The Things You Can Think!

Imagination is something that is so important to have, and it’s something that Dr. Seuss celebrated in each one of his books. Oh, the Things You Can Think epitomizes the love of an active imagination, and is something we should continually foster in our children.

And to Think I saw it on Mullberry Street

The first children’s book to be published was almost never published. It took 27 tries to get this one out because it was considered to be too “imaginative” and “fantasy-like”.  75 years later this book is still a classic.

Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss! Celebrate by reading a good book, or by creating one of your own. Use your imagination and believe you can do anything you set your mind to!

For a full list of Oceanhouse apps, click here.

Using iOS Devices With Exsisting Content – Outside The Box, or Inside The iPad

29 11 2011

Have you ever looked at a worksheet and wondered how to digitize with not much hassle? Or have you wanted to create content that can be annotated on an iOS device? Well, it’s not as hard as it looks. All you need is an iOS device with a camera, and a couple of apps.

The first thing to do is to take a picture of the content that you want to use. in this case, I am using the Handwriting Without Tears template.


I took a picture of this template using my iPhone 4 camera. Here are a couple of tips when using your iPhone camera.

1. Make sure that you are vertically above the item you want to take a picture of.

2. Make sure that all elements of the item you want to take are in focus.

3. Make sure there is no glare from overhead lights or from the camera’s flash.

I then used a free app called DocScan to scan the picture and “clean it up” a bit. While there may be better scanning apps out there, for free, this one does a nice job of doing what I need to do.

Once the image is cleaned up and you have it sized and formatted properly, then it’s time to test it in an annotation app.

While there are many different annotation apps out there, I found that for this purpose DocAS Lite works just fine. Open DocAS Lite to a blank page. Insert the image. The image can be either portrait or landscape, and can be rotated, resized, etc. by using pinch to zoom.

Once the image is set within DocAS lite, select edit in the upper right hand corner to activate the pencil. Tap on the pencil icon in the lower left hand corner of the screen. Select the appropriate width and color by tapping on the paint icon. From there, users can use a stylus or their finger to write their name.

The end result looks a little something like this:

Pretty cool, huh?