Ages and Stages, Assistive Technology, Post-Secondary, Speech & Language, Therapy Tools

Therapy Thursdays: Apps for children with Down syndrome

Social Story example from Model Me Kids app

We have entered a very exciting age of technology. Gone are the days of mix tapes, car phones, and VHS recordings of our favorite shows…In are mp3 files, smart phones, and TiVo. I remember when April was in speech therapy at school she was given token rewards for practicing speech sounds. When I have children do articulation drills (one of the most boring activities around) I am able to use more exciting motivators – language-learning video games, clips from their favorite shows via YouTube, etc. 

Many families now have smart phones or other smart devices in the household. I have witnessed with my own eyes a two-year-old flicking through action vocabulary words on an iPhone while saying the words! While not a replacement for more traditional learning techniques these “apps” are a great way to practice goals from therapy outside the walls of the clinic/school/etc. 

Here is a great resource on iPhone and iTouch apps iPhone and iTouch apps for (Special) Education. The author of this post also has a great blog: www.slpsharing.com. He recently did a post  that included apps for high school students and adults such as grocery list organizers, bill pay, and to-do lists. 

Children with Down syndrome can learn to use technology well and may benefit from it more than others in the long run.  In general apps are entertaining, but the additional language-learning outcomes for children with Down syndrome may include: 

  • Learning to follow steps
  • Articulation practice tailored to their speech goals
  • Reading comprehension
  • Learning basic concepts
  • Communicating with others (if it’s a smart phone, practice their artic speech sounds, then call Grandma for skill carry-over)
  • Understanding and anticipating routines

Unfortunately there are not many educational apps for smart phones like the Droid or Palm series. If you have any good ones please leave it as a comment. Many of the apps listed are free and can be fun for your other children (or if you’re really bored). Apps are a fun way to encourage language and technology learning – both necessary for successful communication.

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10 thoughts on “Therapy Thursdays: Apps for children with Down syndrome”

  1. Hi. I am a speech/language pathologist and own a Droid X. I currently use the following apps: Kids Connect the Dots Lite by Intellijoy, Learn Animal Sounds Game, Tap to Talk and Zoodles Kid mode by Intellijoy. All of the games are wonderful to use with children. I LOVE, love, love the Zoodles app!!! You can create different levels for different children, add a picture of them, provide an age for age approp. games and it remembers favorites. There are tons of games to play!! Oh…all of these are free apps too. The IPad has many many more options but until I can get one…this is working well (even if it is just used as a reward). Oh yeah..the talking tomcat is a favorite reward! Good luck and Thanks so much for this site

  2. Found your blog via a link in BabyCenter. I’m never too crazy on smartphones, but apps like this makes me rethink! Thanks for the info.

    BTW, your blog’s a gem, so much useful info! I’ll find the time to read the rest of your posts. Thank you!

  3. Great post! I have a 5,5 yo daughter with DS and she is mastering apps on iPad quickly. There are many that are educational (do a search with the word educational on apple store). Many are free or cost less than one dollar. I also acquired the app proloquo2go, an excellent communication tool for anyone with speech impairments. It can be costumized with photos and symbols to talk the phrases the person wants. It is easy to program and has very realistic childrens voices and adults voices. It costs us$200, but this is much less than any other past device, and certainly a lot cooler.

    1. Missy, Artic or articulation sounds, are the sounds that make up our speech. You can also say “speech sounds.”

      In English the SLP looks at each sound the child makes, not letter. To work on improving the sound made imprecisely the SLP moves the child through a heirarchy: sound, syllable, word, mult-syllable word, phrase, sentence, and coversation. This helps the child acheive mastery at the most basic level, then moving forward until the sound is used in all parts of a word in conversation.
      Great question!

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