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It’s becoming increasingly clear that iPads and iPhones have so much more to offer than the games and shopping apps that are, admit it, the hook for a lot of us. Technology is bringing about a revolution in teaching and learning with iPads very much front and centre, armed to the teeth with an ingenious, ever-expanding amount of apps.

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Increasingly, technology is being put to use in special needs education and there are plenty of fantastic apps out there for helping students overcome their learning disabilities, giving them the confidence to learn and express themselves at school and home.

Though there are a vast amount of brilliant apps to choose from, I’ve compiled my top ten for use both at home and in the classroom.

VAST-Autism 1 – Core: A great tool that provides therapy to children with autism and motor speech disorders such as apraxia. It combines video modelling with auditory cues and written words to help children develop words, phrases and sentences so that they can speak for themselves.

Language Builder Deluxe: Created to help children improve sentence formation and boost receptive and expressive language skills, as well as sentence ideation. Extensive use of audio clips help improve auditory processing for special needs children with autism spectrum or sensory processing disorders. In a nice touch, the app allows playback of the child’s voice to reinforce language development.

Autism Apps: Quite simply, Autism Apps is a huge list of apps that are being used with and by people with special needs including autism and Down’s syndrome. New apps are being created every day and not all will be relevant to the needs of your child so sift through the list (over 30 categories!) and see what you can dig out.

Cause and Effect Sensory Light Box: Developed for of teenagers with complex needs including visual impairment, autism and developmental disabilities. The app encourages development and basic awareness of touches and gestures through open-ended exploration and play. Scenes interact differently, but together provide pleasing effects in response to various combinations of taps, presses, sweeps and controlled movements.

British Sign Language – Finger Spelling: The British two-handed finger spelling alphabet is an important and integral part of British Sign Language, and this neat little app encourages and enables people to learn and practice at their own pace. Very useful for the parents, teachers and friends of people with hearing impairments to get to grips with signing as well.

ArtikPix – Full: Flashcard and matching activities are the thrust of this engaging articulation app for children with speech sound delays. The group scoring feature collects scores in flashcards on up to 4 children at a time. Very user friendly for kids, parents and teachers.

LetterReflex: Award winning app that aims to help people with dyslexia overcome those troublesome b / d mix ups and other common letter reversal problems. The interesting technology and unique approach applied by this app is designed to make learning fun as well as effective.

Dyslexia Quest: Developed, researched and tested at the Bristol Dyslexia Centre, Dyslexia Quest is a popular practice/learning tool that teaches through a series of games. The App is designed to assess working memory, phonological awareness, processing speed, visual memory, auditory memory and sequencing skills.

What is Dyslexia: A free app that lets you explore and understand dyslexia through a video comic which follows the story of a typical dyslexic, then posts a quiz to see if you show signs of dyslexia. Also offers information, tips and hints for parents and teachers to improve communication.

See. Touch. Learn: Picture learning system created by professionals and specifically designed for those with autism and other special needs – digitalising the traditional picture cards of yore. Parents, teachers and therapists make full use of this app, building custom picture card lessons and tracking the responses of the child. Though libraries of images and lessons have to be purchased, the app comes with a starter set of high-quality images and 60 exercises created by a certified behaviour analyst.

Have you come across any other genuinely useful and engaging apps for use in special needs education? Feel free to share them with us using the comment box provided.

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