Programs for disabilities
I would love to see more tech programs created to actually remediate and address disabilities! Thus far there just aren’t many. Special education is basically general education in small groups—students get extra help, more exposure to the material, and remedial instruction but they don’t really get much (often any) instruction specifically targeted at their disability. This is an area where tech could serve a role— not replacing traditional learning models but supplementing them as needed. Here are the programs that I have found.
Auditory processing disabilities:
Many kids who struggle with reading have weaknesses in auditory memory, phonological processing, auditory sequencing, and other auditory skills. I actually love HearBuilder from Webster. This program is written like a fun video game but systematically develops students’ skills in these areas. I got really good growth out of my lowest readers the year that I used it. It is medium pricey—about 100 for a year for a classroom but was the only disability targeted program that seemed to lead to growth in my students.
Visual processing disabilities:
There are a lot of apps that claim to teach visual discrimination. I honestly haven’t tried any of them yet but let me know if you have! If you look in the app store for “visual processing” you will find a few. Let me know if any of them are good!
There are a lot of apps for iPads and games to increase attention span. I haven’t really noticed any improvement in attention after kids have used them—I personally have had a lot more success with teaching students mindfulness and behavior contracts than with games. But Focus Pocus is a fun game and might work for your kid!
There are a lot of fun social skills apps and programs out there. The problem is that most are written as multiple choice games and my students just start guessing wildly, hoping to get to the prizes quicker. So they require pretty active supervision. I used Social Quest for a while and really liked the lay out but it didn’t help my student. They are constantly coming out with new apps and games for Autism though so we will see.
Dyslexia is actually more of an umbrella term for a pattern of deficits in certain areas of processing. Anyhow, there is a fun app called Dyslexia Quest that gives kids a bunch of processing tests (disguised as games) and then tells you what areas of processing they need support in. It is not a real diagnostic—but I had some kids play it for fun and the weaknesses the app found were pretty close to what we had found on testing. If you are curious about how your kid is learning, check it out.