Thursday, December 27, 2012

Apps For Your 2-3 Year Old

Piano Prodigy, free.
It's been difficult finding apps that both grab Izaiah's attention and are functional for his age. I've been experimenting with different ones for therapy, education, and play and have come up with a short list of our faves. It certainly isn't an exhaustive list, but a great place to start if you have toddlers or preschoolers on the spectrum.

1.) SeeTouchLearn by Brain Parade. A picture card learning system for educational and therapy purposes. The free version is my favorite and you can add libraries at very low cost. You can even add your very own library with your own pictures. They do have a new pro version cost is $29.99, but is not necessary for 2 to 3 year olds.

2.) Injini Lite. This is hands down my favorite educational, therapeutic, and play, all-in-one, app. It's free and Izaiah interacts with it and enjoys it too. The free, lite, version comes with several activities to explore and grow into. The full version is $29.99. I haven't purchased it, but may if he outgrows the lite version. I think it will be worth every penny.

3.) Best Kids Songs and Stories. Perfect for 2 -3 year olds who like songs and dance. You get some songs for free but can get more songs inexpensively. Music is an excellent way to encourage speech and recognition. These short songs are fun to hear and watch. They have some stories for free too and I like the way it's organized. You can add to your library a little or a lot at a time, so it fits any budget. This is the app you need if you need to keep a toddler busy for a few minutes.

4. ABC Teacher Videos. This is a cute app that teaches the alphabet and their sounds. You get letters A through F free which will last a 2-3 year old for awhile. The rest of the alphabet is $.99/per letter. The songs are sweet and I can see my own non-verbal child repeating the letter sounds as he gets a little older and verbal.

5. Touch and Say. A cute, free app. Very simple to teach letters, numbers to 10, colors. My little boy likes the songs the best.

6. iTot Cards. A free, basic, flashcard app that I really like. Vibrant pictures, each object has it's title written below it and a computer generated voice that says the title.

7. Bitsboard. This is truly an amazing free flashcard app and the amount of libraries you can add for free truly blew me away. Thankfully you have the option to delete cards because some of them have very immodestly dressed ladies in them, not exactly sure why.

8. Balloon Blaster is a easy, fun game for a 2 to 3 year old. Izaiah can actually play this game. It is free, but has an ad before you start each game and some of them are inappropriate in my opinion. This game is from a company called KLAP Edutainment, and while they have some cute stuff, I steer clear of most of it. It's like a bait and switch. You go to start an adorable game meant for a young child and then WHAM! an ad for a game with sparsely dressed cartoon figures pops up. Very inappropriate in my opinion, so beware!

9. Animal Puzzles for Toddlers. 2 to 3 year olds will need help with these puzzles, but what I like is after the puzzle is complete bubbles or balloons fall from the top and can be easily popped by a toddler.

10. Sight Words for Reading HD. This is a series of videos with sight words. Great attention getter when getting your child used to the iPad. You get one free and then 3 for purchase. I have them all and they were a great way for Izaiah to learn to touch the iPad to get a result.

11.) Jump Start Pre-K I love this app. It doesn't cost very much and there is so much to do. It's a little advanced for 2 to 3 year olds, but Mom can help and your child will be more ready for it at 4 or 5.

12.) ABC Plus 5 in 1 from Abitalk. This is a cute app for little fingers. A 2 to 3 year old may just like the ABC song which is cutely animated, but there are other functions he will grow into.

13.) GaziliWords. Very cute app. A 2 to 3 year old will need help but a great app to grow into.

14.) 3D Zoo for Toddlers. A cute, simple app, where a 2 year old can see and hear true to life animals and make them move to wherever they put their finger. Puts a different spin on flashcards for sure!

15.) Odd 1 Out Adorable, but a 2-3 year old will need help. Great to grow into though.

16.) Agnitus. This app is absolutely adorable. 2 to 3 year olds may need help, but this is a really fun app to grow into.

17.) Reading Eggs Sight Words. This is a fun app that a 3 year old can do. Whether or not they get the words right, they still get to poke and press and get a reaction out of the iPad for their efforts. This app is a free version, it has 100 sight words. The full version is inexpensive and has more scenes and 250 words.

18.) i Learn with Boing. These apps say ages 3 to 6, but some kids will need a lot of help with these. He does like the Ocean app but needs help. They are learning apps for words, spelling, alphabet, vocabulary, comprehension, math, etc. There are currently 4 apps and all have a free, lite version which is enough for 3 year olds ( in my opinion.) These are really cute apps that a child can grow into and full versions can be purchased for $2.99.

19.) For Speech, we've used Picture AAC and also Sounding Board.(which is free.) I like both apps because they are customizable, but as Izaiah is still non-verbal and only 3, they really are not that helpful yet, but I do see their potential increasing with age. Also there is the Tap to Talk Starter Album, also free.

20.) A very important must-have app for Mom that is free is called AutismApps. Be sure to download this because so many apps especially for therapy, language, and play for children on the spectrum are listed there. Many of them have lite versions that you can use for ages 2 to 3 and purchase the full versions as your child ages.

21.) Another must-have free app for Mom is AppShopper. I couldn't find the link, but you should be able to pull it up directly on your iPad. This is a great way to filter through apps that are new, reduced in price, or free.

Tips for working with your very young autist and the iPad.

1.) Have reasonable expectations. There is no magic item that is going to 'fix' your child. The iPad is a fabulous tool to help aid your child's understanding, enhance his learning and provide extra therapy.

2.) Know your goals. Is this for therapy and/or education? Be working towards that end. Even games can be educational and/or for therapy.

3.) While you may be excited to incorporate it into your routine, your child may have severe reservations. Work it in very slowly and don't be discouraged if your child has zero interest. It took several weeks to get Izaiah to make eye contact with iPad at our house! Think of it as a time for you and your other family members to get to know it.

4.) To encourage curiosity in the iPad, put something familiar on there. I used the Best Kids Songs and Stories because so many of the songs were familiar. Also, I found the Sight Words for Reading (app #10) as DVDs at the library. My son loved them on the big screen so when he saw it as an app on the iPad, that definitely piqued his interest. You can do this with PBS Kids shows too by using the PBS Kids app. Sounding Board which is free allows you to put your own pictures into the app, that also would be an idea to help him be more comfortable.

5.) Do short sessions. As your child gains more experience, he'll enjoy navigating through it for longer periods of time. After 6 months of use, Izaiah is just now starting to enjoy sitting down and picking out his own music to listen to and figuring out some functions he can do, so like in so many other situations, be very patient.

Annie Eskeldson writes for parents of very young autists and tween age autists too, because she has one of each! So many people came together to help purchase an iPad for Izaiah. Thank you so much to all of you generous angels out there!! You are loved and remembered every time the iPad is turned on.

You can check the Ashi's Gift Book series, children's books about autism that also nurture parents at Ashi's Gift Website.

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