The Washington Post

The best apps for special needs kids

Steven Moshuris, an autistic student atBelle View Elementary, uses an iPad asa communication device. (Jahi Chikwendiu/WASHINGTON POST)

We asked Joan L. Green, a speech-language pathologist in Potomac and the author of “The Ultimate Guide to Assistive Technology in Special Education,” to share some of her favorite iPad apps for kids with special needs.

These are the most expensive versions of the apps because they have the most options for individualizing them to a child’s particular needs. In some cases, there are less expensive versions. These apps cost far more than most, but they are cheaper than traditional communication systems and equipment that parents of kids with special needs may have bought in the past.


Dragon Dictation converts speech to text or e-mails. Nuance Communications, free.

ArtikPix-Ful l combines flashcards and other activities to help children with speech delays practice making sounds correctly. Expressive Solutions, $29.99.

Articulation Station Pro allows kids with speech delays to practice making sounds in words, sentences and stories. Little Bee Speech, $49.99.


VAST Autism 1-Core helps students with autism or other disorders, such as apraxia, learn to speak. SpeakinMotion, $4.99.

First Phrases HD helps toddlers or children with speech delays learn to put words together into phrases. Hamaguchi Apps for Speech, Language and Auditory Development, $9.99.


Bob Books #1-Reading Magic HD is a phonics-based game to help young children learn how to read. Learning Touch, $3.99.

Rainbow Sentences helps students learn good grammar by color-coding the parts of sentences. Mobile Education Tools, $7.99.

Rhyming Words has rhyming activities to help build early reading skills., free.

Writing and spelling

Cimo Spelling is a game that uses a list of 255 high-frequency and sight words to help children in kindergarten through third grade develop basic spelling and reading skills. PlaySmart-Kids, $2.99.

FirstWords Deluxe helps teach toddlers letter and word recognition. Learning Touch, $4.99.       

iWrite Words reinforces correct letter formation and spelling. Gdiplus, $2.99.

Organization and note-taking

Abilipad is a notepad app that allows users to customize the keyboard. It also has a text-to-speech function. Cheryl Bregman, $19.99.

Audionote Notepad and Voice Recorder can synchronize typed notes with recorded audio for students who struggle with fine motor skills or organization. Luminant Software, $4.99.

Notability-Take Notes and Annotate PDFs with Dropbox combines handwriting, typing and voice recording for note-taking. Ginger Labs, 99 cents.


Custom Boards allows users of all ages to create custom communication boards, schedules and activities from a library of more than 11,000 symbols. Smarty Ears, $39.99.

My First AAC is a communication app for toddlers and preschoolers with delayed speech and language. Injini, $24.99.

Proloquo2go includes symbols and a text-to-speech function for students of all ages with speech and language difficulties. AssistiveWare, $189.

TouchChat helps students of all ages who have trouble speaking with their own voices. Silver Kite, $149.99.

Listening skills

See. Touch. Learn Pro is a picture-learning system designed for children with autism and other special needs. Brain Parade, $24.99.

LanguageBuilderDeluxe helps children practice coming up with ideas and forming sentences. It uses lots of audio clips to help kids work on listening skills, and can play back the child’s own voice to help them develop their language. Mobile Education Tools, $14.99.

StoryBuilder is designed to teach children to build coherent paragraphs, using audio clips to improve listening skills. Mobile Education Tools, $7.99.

Mari-Jane Williams edits community news for Local Living.


Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Video curated for you.

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.