The iPad and Apps: How to Find the Best Apps for You
by David A. Kennedy
Online Communications Manager, Autism NOW Center
When Apple launched the iPad in January 2010, Steve Jobs – the company’s Chief Executive Officer – said the device “creates and defines an entirely new category of devices that will connect users with their apps and content in a much more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before.”
A Life-Changing Device
He was right. The iPad has helped usher in a new era of personal computing. Apple’s new iPad 3 has already sold more than three million units. Earlier this year, officials at Apple said the company had sold more than 55 million iPads to date and according to recent data by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, devices like tablets and e-readers have become more popular among consumers with 19 percent of adults in the United States owning a tablet computer.
People with autism and other developmental disabilities have felt the iPad’s impact even more. They have used the device in a variety of ways – everything from helping them communicate to learning new concepts and behaviors. The device has literally changed lives, like helping one young girl with disabilities go from crying as her only form of communication to learning how to speak with sentences. But with so many apps on the market, parents, caregivers and professionals can become overwhelmed by all the options. In this article, we’ll give you some tips for how to effectively wade through your choices and make the right ones, plus help you find the most useful apps.
Where to Start
Diving into selecting apps can intimidate anyone, especially those unfamiliar with technology. However, take it one step at a time and remember these tips.
- Just like selecting any other product, you should have a few goals and priorities in mind. What’s your biggest challenge? Try to find an app to solve that one first.
- Apps can’t do everything or help you overcome every challenge. Don’t try to find an app that does it all. For example, if you are looking to enhance your child’s communication skills, you may want to search for communication apps specifically.
- Pay attention to the user reviews listed in Apple’s iTunes App Store. They can provide valuable, real-world insight.
- Let the community help you. Many professionals have curated helpful apps resources and many parents, caregivers and those with autism know which ones work best. Look for recommendations (we have a list at the end of this article).
- Above all, pay attention to who’s using the app. You may read rave reviews about an app, but it might not work for your specific needs. Pay attention to that and move on if need be.
- Finding Good Apps for Children with Autism: from New York Times Gadgetwise Blog.
- Apps for Autism: curated by Autism Speaks.
- iTechnology: curated by staff at the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University. It includes information on apps and other assistive technology.
- Apps for Autism: The Apps That Can Make A Difference And Why: a webinar from the Autism NOW Center.
- Bridging Apps website: a resource curated by the Autism NOW Center.
- Moms with Apps – Apps for Special Needs: a resource curated by the Autism NOW Center.
- Apps for Children with Special Needs: a resource curated by the Autism NOW Center.
- What is Assistive Technology? An article from the Autism NOW Center.
What is your favorite iPad app? Let us know in our Forums, and continue this conversation there with other Prism readers.