When my son got his iPad, I had no idea how overwhelming it would be to try to pick appropriate apps for him to get started with. There were so many out there to choose from. Through the advice of other autism moms, therapists, and a whole lot of trial and error, I have developed my own top ten list. Keep in mind, that no two kids with autism are alike…. What interests my son, may not interest yours or your child may have completely different needs, but hopefully, this will at least spark some ideas to help you get you started.
#10 Injini Lite (free)
This app is a smaller version of the actual full app. It only allows you to play a small portion of what is offered. However, it is a really neat app. You can feed animals, sheer sheep, solve puzzles, play a game called squares (which reminds me a little of the old electronic “Simon” game), tracing, pop correctly colored balloons, etc. This is the most I have seen offered in a free app. What it really does though is make you want the full version (which my son uses in therapy) but at the sticker shock of $29.99, we are making do with the free version at home for now. My son plays this app weekly, but would probably play it daily if we had the full version. The levels they offer in the lite version have simply become too easy for him. I will certainly consider purchasing the full app in the future.
#9 Sesame Street The Monster at the End of This Book $3.99
Really nice book that allows you to play along in the story. Grover tries his best to keep the reader from continuing on in the story, but the player can overcome the obstacles much to his dismay. Just a fun book, but it does usually require some assistance from a grown up to help my son complete some of the tasks. (It is cute enough that the grown up doesn’t mind.)
#8 Monkey Preschool When I Grow Up $0.99
This cute app allows you to select a monkey to dress in appropriate attire thus selecting a career for it (or sometimes multiple careers). Once the monkey is dressed, it tells you what it wants to be when it grows up and does a little dance and you can start all over again. This app gets selected often, but doesn’t keep his attention for long.
#7 I See Ewe $0.99
This app allows you to choose from the options menu if you want to work on identifying objects, colors, animals, shapes or you can choose a variety. It also allows you to choose how many cards you want on the board at a time (difficulty level). For example, with colors, using the 4 card choice, 4 cards come up and it will tell you… “find the brown triangle.” This very simple game is really good for working on receptive language skills since you are listening to verbal request (you can work without the verbal prompt and choose just a written prompt if desired). You can also choose a memory/concentration game. This app is played off and on throughout the week, but it only keeps his attention for a couple minutes at a time. He usually plays this and moves onto another app. My only complaint with this app is that the settings option button is right with the game play buttons. My son is notorious for going in and changing not only the settings for the difficulty and skill being worked on, but he also thinks it is funny to change the language setting.
#6 FreeFall Spelling $1.99
In this app, letters fall down from the top of the page and you must drag them into their proper spot to make a word before they reach the bottom of the page. If you place them incorrectly or not fast enough, they simply scroll back down the page again until you get it right. It also periodically gives you a keyboard and a word to type. This app can be challenging at first for a child to figure out and you must be able to move fairly quickly with it. Still, a nice app and worth the $1.99. This one gets played weekly at my house.
#5 Super Why $3.99
Based on the PBS show, this game has 4 activities to choose from. Princess Presto leads you in “Wands Up Writing.” Using beginning phonic skills, a letter is selected matching the sound and then you trace it. The only complaint I have with this game, is it doesn’t not require a flow in writing the letter. For instance, you can start at one point for the letter o, stop and put your finger on the other side to trace part and then stop and finish at another spot. I don’t think it really does much to teach proper writing techniques. Alpha Pig leads you in a game of “Lickety Letter Hunt.” This game teaches letter recognition as you form a word. If you guess wrong, that letter will disappear leaving you more likely to select the correct answer. Wonder Red leads “Rhyming Time.” Rhyming is a hard concept for my son, but the fact that the wrong answer disappears when you make a mistake helps. Super Why’s “Story Saver” works on reading skills as you finish the story. When a wrong word is selected, the scenario is acted out using the word which allows for a little silliness to make the idea of a mistake a little less frustrating. The wrong word then disappears as in the other games. This app is played weekly.
#4 Monkey Math School Sunshine $0.99
This math game works on beginning math concepts such as recognizing numbers, number order, least amount, patterns, and simple subtraction. There are also games for tracing shapes and connect the dots. You continue on until the correct answer is provided. When a task is completed, you can add items to your aquarium as a reward. This app is played almost daily.
#3 Handy Manny Workshop $0.99
This app has 4 games to choose from. In “Find It” the player searches the scene for all the characters from the show. A help button highlights where the characters are to give assistance. In “Match It” you can play a concentration type game matching up the characters on the picture cards. Again, assistance is provided if needed to avoid frustration (that is important for us since a frustrating task is an avoided task at our house). “Puzzle It” has 3 levels to select from and gives several puzzle choices in each level. This is great for kids who have fine motor issues that make working a traditional puzzle challenging. Simply use your finger to drag the piece into place (a help button is provided here as well). Each time a task is completed in the above games, a very short clip plays from the tv show as a reward. My son’s favorite part of this app (although he likes them all) is “Color It.” There are several scenes to choose from to virtually color on. A very light touch is all that is needed to apply color onto the page, making it simple to use. This app is used almost daily.
#2 Monkey Preschool Lunchbox (from the same makers of Monkey Math School Sunshine and Monkey Preschool When I Grow Up) $0.99
This cute app never gets old with my son. It works on a variety of concepts like colors, shapes, counting, letters, etc. It also has simple 4 piece puzzles to solve. There is a little monkey who jumps up and down when you get a correct answer. (The tropical tune playing as background music never leaves your head though) The app randomly selects which game to work on, which works well for us, since it doesn’t allow my son to simply play one part of the game over and over. This app is used daily and keeps his atteniton for quite awhile.
#1 iWrite Words $2.99
My son’s all time favorite app (and mine too). Perfect for working on fine motor skills and teaching kids to write in a non threatening way. My son is fascinated by letters and numbers, but because of his problems with fine motor skills, writing is a very difficult task and can be very frustrating for him. At the time he first got his iPad, he could not even hold a pencil correctly. This app allowed him to use his finger to trace the letters and eventually he worked his way up to tracing them with a stylus (we purchased ours at WalMart for $12). A cute little bug type creature acts as a prompt guiding you through the correct letter formation. You can choose from uppercase or lowercase letters, numbers, or whole words. This app came with the recommendation of his Occupational Therapist who uses this app with him often in therapy. This one gets used more than any of the others.