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7 Helpful Apps For Parents of Special Needs Kids

7 Helpful Apps For Parents of Special Needs Kids

As an educator, I used to work with special needs children, and I’ve found digital tools to be quite effective in bridging the gap. This list, however, is a selection of apps designed for parents, teachers, and therapists to track child’s development, have a better understanding of his or her needs, and explore new ways to teach and help.

1. Cognoa

Cognoa is not strictly an app – it is a health care company assessing and supporting children’s development. However, they also have an app, which can be used as a free evaluation tool. If you have questions or doubts about your child’s development, you can fill out a questionnaire or take a short video showing your child’s natural behavior at home. Then, send this data for experts to analyze and provide you with feedback and recommendations. Although it still cannot replace a full-scale assessment, Cognoa has proved to be quite effective in diagnosing children as young as 13 months.

2. Baby Connect

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    This app serves as your child’s portfolio and profile page, but also is a valuable tracking and evaluation tool where you can mark your kid’s developmental milestones, mood, health, immunization, and care routines, such as nursing, feeds, naps – nearly every aspect of their life. You can also easily share this information with day care specialists, babysitters, and therapists in order to coordinate your actions. With the help of the graphs that app provides, you can recognize patterns and trends and compare them with the U.S. and International percentiles.

    3. Speech Journal

    This is a flexible and easily customizable tool, designed for parents and educators to assist in creating various speech activities (practice conversations, narrative, social stories, articulation, and language exercises). With its help, you can create visual schedules for your children by choosing pictures (or taking your own photos) and adding a voice record to accompany them. The app’s text-to-speech feature can also provide alternative communication aid for children with limited verbal abilities.

    4. Proloquo2Go

    This app is an AAC (Augmented and Alternative Communication) tool designed to give a voice for non-verbal people, as well as people with limited verbal abilities, or those who for any reason are unwilling to communicate in spoken language – a variety of individuals with different diagnosis and issues. Proloquo2Go offers a vast picture vocabulary and text-to-speech feature in multiple voices; it is also easily customizable. It is a great help for parents, educators, and therapists, but unfortunately, it is quite pricey.

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    5. Pumpic

      If your special needs child uses their own electronic device, which is more advanced than simple emergency phones for kids, it is recommended that you use some kind of parental controls. Pumpic is one of such tools, which allows all-encompassing monitoring, starting from GPS-tracking of wandering kids, and ending with monitoring of text messages and online activities in order to prevent undesirable contacts with disturbing content and bullying. I should also mention that puberty brings additional concerns, and sometimes curiosity, sexual feelings, and technology can be a menacing mix, especially for children with special needs, who often are trusting and inexperienced in social interactions.

      6. Rethink Behavior Tracking

      This is a behavior-tracking app for teachers to log behavior of their students in class, but it also can be used to track individual children day by day, month by month, in order to monitor skill acquisition and behavioral patterns, and simply work out what works for your kid and what does not. Based on your observations and the app’s reports, which are automatically graphed to simplify the analysis, you can make data-driven decisions and optimize learning processes for your children.

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      7. Visual Schedule Planner

        This visual schedule aims to provide a structured environment for children and adults with anxieties, ASD, acquired brain injuries, learning challenges, auditory processing disorders, and other special needs by giving them a visual representation of their day, an upcoming week, or month. Such aid is usually very beneficial for children, helping them to learn important skills, such as personal hygiene, through video modeling (a corresponding video can be linked to every event in the planner).

        These apps allow parents, teachers, and caregivers to provide better care for special needs children, and assist them in overcoming cognitive and social challenges.

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        Featured photo credit: Alberto Zhase/Flickr via flickr.com

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        Last Updated on February 15, 2019

        7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

        7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

        Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

        Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

        Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

        So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

        Joe’s Goals

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          Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

          Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

          Daytum

            Daytum

            is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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            Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

            Excel or Numbers

              If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

              What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

              Evernote

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                I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

                Evernote is free with a premium version available.

                Access or Bento

                  If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

                  Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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                  You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

                  Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

                  All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

                  Conclusion

                  I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

                  What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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