Using technologies to help individuals with special needs is not exactly a new idea. Eyeglasses were invented in 1268 to help monks and scholars with reading, while hearing aids were invented in 1898 to aid people with hearing difficulties. A variety of assistive technologies have been used for kids with learning, social/emotional, and attention difficulties for many decades. With the availability and adaptability of mobile devices, apps, and powerful new software, there are options to help kids with special needs so that what we previously called disabilities can become simple differences.
In the following series of posts we highlight the best technologies to benefit children with special needs and the ways that many popular apps and technologies can benefit kids who may not have a specific diagnosis but experience difficulty in one or more aspects of school, psychological adjustment, or life skills.
Perhaps the most common difficulty kids with learning, attention, and social/emotional difficulties experience at school involves writing skills. Getting one’s thoughts onto paper can be incredibly frustrating. The process of handwriting can be an impediment to many kids with fine- motor or other coordination issues. Organizing thoughts in a coherent written form can be frustrating for many kids who are able to express themselves effectively in conversation. There are many helpful dictation apps that kids can readily access, although they may need training in using them effectively.
Dictation tools are readily available on all smartphones and many word-processing and note-taking programs and are a core feature of tools such as Google docs. Dictation tools and apps such as Siri, Dragon Dictation, and Google voice dictation are among the variety of programs that are easily accessible. However, mastering dictation technologies in order to produce good writing requires training and practice. (To learn more about our LW4K recommendations, watch our videos.)
Dictation skills and devices can be life changing for kids with special needs. Examples of the types of kids who could benefit from dictation technologies include:
- Kids who do well on measures of verbal expression but not on writing
- Kids who are slow to write down their thoughts
- Kids who need to see information in order to organize it
- Kids who are perfectionists and don’t like making mistakes
- Kids with difficulty in task initiation
- Kids who need help with editing
- Kids with ADHD and attention problems who lose track of their thoughts
- Kids with difficulty in working memory who forget what they wanted to write
- Kids with slow processing speed
Curious for other ways to help kids with slow processing speed? Check out these articles on Learning Works for Kids: