The Best Apps for Kids With Learning Disabilities

A child plays an educational game on their iPad.
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Every child needs to study at home, and learning disabilities can amplify that need. Thankfully, there are plenty of supplemental educational apps built for kids with learning disabilities. These apps cover every subject, from reading to math to social or emotional intelligence.

All-Purpose Learning Apps

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Most educational apps focus on one subject, like math or reading. But some aim to cover all the bases. These all-purpose educational apps can teach language and math skills, along with skills for social and emotional intelligence.

These apps can be used to teach children of all skill levels. They can be used for independent learning, but they work best when an adult is around to help.

  • Otsimo (iOS/Android): A visually engaging app that’s full of learning games for all subjects and skill levels. It’s based on the principals of Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy and can be optimized for children based on their developmental needs.
  • Khan Academy Kids (iOS/Android): This free app uses fun games and visuals to teach rudimentary reading, writing, and mathematics. It’s a lot more visually engaging than most educational apps, which is great if your child has trouble focusing.
  • PBS KIDS Video (iOS/Android): Stream the PBS channel or episodes of PBS shows for free. This is a great passive learning tool that can teach your child reading, writing, math, and social or emotional skills.

Of course, these all-purpose apps are pretty broad. If your child needs a more focused study session, then it may be worth downloading an app that’s meant specifically for language skills, math skills, or emotional skills.

Reading Comprehension

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Reading’s not easy, but a few educational apps can help hone your child’s skills or raise their confidence. Some of these apps, like the Voice Dream Reader text-to-speech app, can also be used as accessibility tools for kids who have trouble reading.

Here are the best reading comprehension apps:

  • Rivet Better Reading (iOS/Android): Rivet is a free reading app that uses points and visuals to keep your child engaged. It’s perfect for all skill levels, and it helps round out areas where your child’s having trouble.
  • Elmo Loves ABCs (iOS): A premium app that teaches your child to identify and sound out letters and words. It includes fun learning games, along with digital coloring pages and clips from Sesame Street.
  • Autism Therapy with MITA (iOS/Android): This is an early-intervention app for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. It’s a great vocab-building tool, but it also helps reduce stimulus over selectivity (tunnel vision).
  • Voice Dream Reader (iOS/Android): This premium text-to-speech app can turn any book into an audiobook. It’s an excellent tool for any child, and especially children who get overwhelmed by books or children with dyslexia.

Of course, language is more than just the written word. Communication is just as important as reading, and there are some great apps for nonspeaking or verbally challenged kids.

Speaking and Listening

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Even kids who are great at reading can have trouble communicating. If your child is nonverbal or has difficulty speaking, then it may be worth downloading an AAC or speech therapy app.

AAC apps convert symbols into words (like a text-to-speech program but with drawings), while speech therapy apps aim to deal with speech delays and articulation problems.

Here are the best speaking and listening apps:

  • Proloquo2Go (iOS): A premium AAC text-to-speech app for children who have trouble speaking. You can type in the app or communicate using pictures.
  • LetMeTalk (iOS/Android): A free AAC app for kids who have trouble speaking. It turns simple images into words and has some customization and profile features.
  • Splingo’s Language Universe (iOS): A premium interactive game that helps children recognize words and form sentences. It’s developed by speech pathologists for nonspeaking or verbally challenged children.
  • Otsimo Speech Therapy (iOS/Android): An interactive app that uses your device’s microphone and camera to help with speech delays, stuttering, and articulation problems. It’s a visually engaging app that’s developed by speech pathologists specifically for children.

These apps are developed by doctors and can be useful to some families. But kids can face verbal challenges for a variety of different reasons, so it’s worth checking with your doctor before you get invested in AAC or speech therapy apps.

Math Comprehension

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Math can be overwhelming, but that’s what makes math apps such an excellent resource for kids with learning disabilities. Instead of making math stressful, math apps make math fun. They turn math into a game, and they’re great for teaching your child the fundamentals (or sometimes even the more advanced stuff).

Here are some great math apps for kids with learning disabilities:

  • Prodigy Math Game (iOS/Android): An educational math game disguised as an adventure RPG with quests, multiplayer, and in-game levels. Math problems can be adjusted for skill level or tailored to state-level criteria (Common Core, TEKS, etc.).
  • Elmo Loves 123s (iOS/Android): Elmo teaches your child the fundamentals of numbers and counting. This is a premium app, but it comes with puzzles, games, and clips from Sesame Street.
  • Math Kids (iOS/Android): A free app that teaches your child rudimentary addition and subtraction through fun games and straightforward visuals.
  • Math Master Brain Quizzes and Puzzles (iOS/Android): A math quiz game with built-in awards and a leaderboard. It covers both rudimentary and advanced mathematics and is a good option for older children who need more “mature” lessons.

Just keep in mind that, while these apps can be used for independent learning, they’ll work best when an adult’s around to help. Math can be stressful.

Social Comprehension and Emotional Stability

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Some learning disabilities make it harder for kids to understand social cues like body language, tone of voice, or facial expressions. A child may even have trouble understanding their own emotions, which can lead to issues with anxiety or self-control.

These skills are more important than reading or doing math. Thankfully, there are plenty of resources for teaching social comprehension and emotional intelligence, including apps.

  • Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood (iOS/Android): A social and emotional intelligence game that follows Daniel Tiger, a character who dances, explores the neighborhood and goes to the doctor.
  • ChoiceWorks (iOS): A visual scheduling app that helps your child approach everyday challenges. It also encourages patience and emotional intelligence.
  • Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame Street (iOS/Android): This app is built to teach your child a “Breath, Think, Do” strategy for problem-solving. It’s a good resource for children who get nervous about everyday problems and decisions.
  • Stop, Breathe, and Think (iOS/Android): This app teaches emotional intelligence through daily check-ins, journals, and mindfulness sessions. This one is better suited for older children.

Also, we mentioned these apps earlier, but they’re worth mentioning again:

  • Otsimo (iOS/Android): A great education app that’s based on the principals of Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy.
  • PBS KIDS Video (iOS/Android): Stream the PBS channel or episodes of PBS shows for free. PBS shows are great for teaching social or emotional intelligence. Think of this app as a solid passive learning tool.

We’ve covered a lot of ground here, from math apps to emotional intelligence apps. If you’re not sure of what subject to focus on, then try out some general-use apps like Khan Academy Kids (iOS/Android) or Otsimo (iOS/Android). Or, ask a doctor which subjects will be the most helpful for your child.

Andrew Heinzman Andrew Heinzman
Andrew is a writer for Review Geek and its sister site, How-To Geek. Like a jack-of-all-trades, he handles the writing and image editing for a mess of tech news articles, daily deals, product reviews, and complicated explainers. Read Full Bio »

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