Saturday, January 22, 2011

The iPad App as a Therapeutic Tool

An interview with Phyllis Kupperman, executive director of the Center for Speech and Language Disorders in Elmhurst, Illinois ( highlighted some of the exciting ways that iPads are being used in therapeutic settings. (Disclosure: Phyllis is part of my family)

Thirty two years ago when the clinic was established, computers were only beginning to be part of the educational scene. The clinic's first computer was an AppleIIe. There were some readers on CD's, mostly by Mercer Mayer and Dr. Seuss, and there were some games. The population that the clinic serves is 60% on the autism spectrum and 40% with other language and learning issues. The computer which was part of the therapeutic setting was a great tool for learning but one of the drawbacks was the mouse. Children with poor motor control sometimes took months to master the use of the mouse. The iPod touch was a great advance because it could be manipulated with just a finger but the small size gave it limited usefulness. The larger iPad screen and the explosion in the availability of apps made it an ideal addition to the therapeutic setting. Even kids that have a lot of physical and cognitive challenges benefit from it. An emphasis on repetition and predictability, language patterns, social interactions, cause and effect, problem solving and communication are just a few of the areas that iPad apps can address.

Here are some of the apps that Phyllis has found useful:
Talking Tom Cat: repeats what you say
Tap to Talk: communication device
DoodleFind: visual scanning, attention to detail
First Words and I Write Words
For older kids: Chicktionary, Angry Birds, Hangman
Model Me: for acclimation to social situations

There are lots of sites with reviews of iPad apps for kids with autism. Just two:
ICDL, children's library at

Phyllis would like to see more apps that have untimed games, more games that focus on facial expressions and emotions, and conversational patterns.


  1. This is so interesting...I’m looking forward to more stories about how people are using iPads, the various other devices, ebooks and apps. Thanks, Freddie!

  2. Hi freddie- Great post. This topic is very close to me as my daughter (now 25) has mild Cerebral Palsy and is vision impaired. Boy- do I wish ipads were available when she was in school. Her fine motors skills are very poor and even today we are always looking for ways to make her life easier. Well- she has mastered the mouse and the computer is her lifeline...But right now- she is in a job training program at the hospital and we are looking for a way for her to write quick phone messages for the staff. (her handwriting is so bad - writing down a simple phone number is not possible.) any ideas? I found a free-standing 'Label maker" that they are looking into. Adapting to life is not easy- but thankfully technology in moving in her favor.
    (I bought her the nook and love the fact you can blow up the text...great for her.)

  3. Someone in my family is a licensed Child Psychologist. She has spent her last few years working with autistic children. I'll send her the URLs you posted.

  4. Thanks for mentioning Squidalicious. The direct link to my iPad writings, reviews, and interviews is:

    Also, Jordan Sadler, an SLP from, recently wrote the post iPad Technology in Speech Therapy: Overview:

    Warm regards,


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