Back to School Apps – What’s in Your OT eTool Kit?

Apps pic for back to school 2016

Wow, summer is almost over and it is back to school time!

Are you thinking about the tools you need as you head back to school?

As I head back to school, expecting a caseload of young learners, I consider what to tools to back in my bag of tricks. Low to high tech tools are helpful, so what will some of those higher tech, tools and devices will I consider for my tool kit?

Although young learners need hands on learning and manipulative, apps that reinforce learning and skills can be a motivator. It is amazing how much mileage you can get with an tech device used as a reward for just a minute or two, and still be working on skills using a game or animated format! Many tools are teacher or therapist support tools, timers, visual schedules for choices and anticipation of what the session will be along with communication and learning apps appropriate for the student.

Teacher/ Therapist Mobile Device Apps:  

Visual Timers – This is an important part of the therapist session providing a visual forecast that reward or break time is almost or is done. An evidenced based practice, use of visual timers or other methods of predicting schedules is helpful for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  Here are my favorite apps that are well supported (thus, won’t disappear overtime):

  • Time Timer app (iOS for iPad 4.99 ; iPhone 2.99; Android .99) – Tried and true whether an app or the physical timer offered in a variety of sizes. It is also available for computers (Win/Mac; 19.95). A watch version also is available is a large and small size for portability those that can be more independent with responding to an alarm ( Time Timer Large Watch 76.95; Time Timer Watch Small 76.95 )
  • Vis Timer app (iOS ; 1.99; ) – A simple visual timer with options of colors for clock face and countdown.
  • Kids Timer app (iOS,  1.99) – Has less options but is geared to young children as a countdown timer. Different faces are options on the app.

Visual Schedule – Whether hard copy or an app, a visual schedule can be an aid to everyone for many purposes. Lists of scheduled activities during the day, individual self care tasks or work tasks. Some visual schedule apps have the ability to add choice within the app. There are many visual schedule apps to service the varying needs of students. Here are just a few of my favorite visual schedule apps:

  • Choice Works (iOS, 6.99) – Visual schedule app supporting, text, images, videos and recorded audio. Provides choices for students with the visual schedule.
  • First Then Visual Schedule HD  (iOS/iPhone, 14.99  ; Android 4.99; ) Visual schedule app supports text, recording, video and images. A timer is available. A variety of formats can be selected for the presentation of the visual schedule.
  • CanPlan (iOS free; unlimited 14.99) Visual scheduling app for individuals with cognitive disability. Create schedules and task instructions with images, text, video and recordings.

General communication and activity choices for OT:

  • Sounding Board app (iOS, free) Ablenet’s communication board app  can display general choices of activities for students.
  • WordToob (iOS, 7.99) – Store  videos and images for easy access in this app.

Self -Regulation:

  • Calm Counter app – (iOS 2.99) – Count down app for calming down.
  • Breathe, Think, Do Sesame Street (iOS, free; Android, free) – Breathing app for young children.
  • Story Creator – (iOS, free ) create social stories in this app for students.
  • Autism 5 Point Scale app – (iOS, free)
  • Cause and Effect Sensory Light box app ( iOS, 3.99) – choices of interacting with visual effects on the iPad.

Pre-Writing Apps

Handwriting Apps:

Writing Apps:

  • Keeble app (iOS, 14.99) A third party app with text to speech and word prediction that will support use in other apps in iPad. Switch compatible.
  • Abilipad app (iOS, 14.99) A customizable writing app and keyboard to support a wide variety of students with disabilities.
  • Clicker Connect (iOS , 32.99) Another customizable app that support graphic supported writing pallets.
  • Co-Writer app (iOS, 14.99) Dedicated word prediction app for iPad/iPhone.
  • SnapType Pro (iOS 4.99) – Tools to take a picture or scan in a worksheet and type on the worksheet.
  • Pictello (iOS, 19.99) – Create stories within this app and add text, recording, images and video. Create with word prediction support and a wizard to step users through the creation process. Switch compatible.

Note: Some apps have similar tools that would be redundant, however might be best for specific students and tasks.

Utility Apps: (all apps are free downloads )

  • Google Drive (free for iOS or Android) – access to google documents and drive for import and export of documents.
  • Google Docs  (free for iOS or Android) – Google word processing apps
  • Google Classroom – for school based therapists this will provide additional tools.
  • Notes (iOS Native app, free) Now allows folders, import images,
  • iMovie (iOS native app, free) Create and modify movies.

So where’s the fine motor, sensory, learning and perceptual apps? What about Google Chrome apps ? Saved for another post…hopefully, before school starts!

These apps are for younger students , Pre-K through early elementary or equivalent skills. What apps are in your eTool Kit this year as you start school ?







Posted in Android, App Reviews, Apps for OT's, Apps for Special Needs, Assistive Technology, Elementary School, iPad, iPhone, Occupational Therapy, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The AT Daily Shares Sparkup Book Reader

As reposted from Assistive Technology Daily…Sparkup Book Reader a new book reading device for emergent readers.

SparkUp pic

Meet SparkUp®

The Sparkup Magical Book Reader is a revolutionary device that clips directly on to any picture book and reads it aloud in your voice. You can record the book yourself, in any language, and add your own personal touches; or download professionally recorded stories, complete with sound effects, directly from the Sparkup…

via What – Sparkup – The Magical Book Reader — The Assistive Technology Daily

So you want to know how many books can be stored on the Sparkup Book Reader? SparkUp website reported 250 minutes of recording can be stored on the device or approximately 50 books. The SparkUp reader is targeted for 3-6 year olds, however emergent readers of many ages may be able to benefit from this assistive reading tool!

Check out more details about SparkUp Magical Book Reader on the SparkUp Website. SparkUp can also be purchased on Amazon for approximately $60.00 USD.

H/T to AT Daily for their wonderful AT finds for any age!



Posted in Assistive Technology, Book, Early Childhood, Education, Elementary School, Emergent Literacy, Language Arts, Reading, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

GoNoodle & Sworkit – Teacher tools from Free Technology for Teachers

As the start of school is just around the corner, Free Technology for Teachers provides a reminder about the great, free GoNoodle service available to teachers as well Sworkit Kids  app (Android App) providing brain breaks in the classroom. Check out Free Technology for Teachers post about these free services that will help with self regulation in the classroom.

GoNoodle is a free service that is designed to promote physical fitness in a fun environment. GoNoodle features tons of free videos that lead students in short, 2-5 minutes, exercises. These are fun exercises like dancing that can be done in your classroom or at home with parents. GoNoodle provides an online environment in which…

via Keep Kids Active With GoNoodle or Sworkit Kids — Free Technology for Teachers

H/T to Richard Byrne for post about these brain break resources.


Posted in Android, School Based Interventions, Self-regulation, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

IndieGo Device Converts Any Wheelchair Into a Power Chair

Indiego image of open source wheelchair conversion

via indieGo Device Converts Any Wheelchair Into a Power Chair — The Mighty

Megan Zahneis, author at The Mighty, writes about an indieGo project involving equipment that can conversion any wheelchair into a power chair. This project is creating an open source power add on which converts any wheelchair to a power chair.

The initiative is  being developed and funded with the  Center for Discovery, Hurleyville Maker Lab and a grant from Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities.  shared on The Mighty Blog or on the Center for Discovery website.

Another cool new innovation supporting the needs of individuals with disabilities. It is proposed to be available in 2017.

So many wonderful innovations!


Posted in Accessibility, Adaptive Music, Google, Mobility Impairment, Special Needs | Leave a comment

Reveal, A Wareable Band the Records Physiological Responses to Anxiety


Awake Labs, is developing an electronic band that to help children on the Autism Spectrum. Currently an Indiegogo project, wearable measures and tracks anxiety to understand behavior and predict behavior meltdowns. Called Reveal, this project is projected for commercialization in early 2017.

Here is more about this exciting innovation:

Reveal is targeted the individuals with Autism but has implications for other individuals who may have behavioral challenges due to stress and anxiety. The wearable will provide information to caretakers as well as the user.

An exciting innovation to assist with self regulation! Think of the children this might help identify sensory or behavioral strategies!

More for your OT mTool Kit.



Posted in Apps for OT's, Apps for Special Needs, Assistive Technology, Autism, Emotions, Mental Health, Occupational Therapy, Special education, Wearable technology | Leave a comment

Guided Access and Switch Recipes

The Assistive Technology Daily shares updated information from Ian Bean on new features in iOS 9 for switch access. Many upgrades of accessibility features are available within iOS 9 as posted by the AT Daily folks.

Guided Access and Switch Recipes These two features available as standard in iPads and iPhones (iOS9 onwards) can make all kinds of things easier for all types of users. You can try them even if you don’t own a switch. This PDF download can help you get set-up straight away: iOS Switch Recipes for Beginners.1.…

via One Switch – iOS: Easier Switch Access — The Assistive Technology Daily

H/T to Assistive Technology Daily for their continual curation of all things AT and for the resources of Ian Bean, a switch access guru. Ian Bean has wonderful resources on his website ( Ian Bean Special Education Needs ICT and Computing ) to support switch  users and those that support them.

Carol – OT’s with Apps and Technology

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What Styluses are Available for Mobile Devices Presently?

 What styluses are available these day?

Questions about styluses are often posted. Styluses have come and gone  with some reappearing after reorganization of some of the vendors. Here is a review of some favorite styluses for big and little fingers that are currently available and the links to the vendors.

Styluses for Little Fingers

Styluses for kids are unique due to the durability and grasp affordances. Accuracy with positioning the stylus in various positions is also important if used to promote progression of a more mature grasp. Here is what I have found currently available:

  1. Cosmonaut Stylus – (25.00) Remains an expensive stylus, but found to be a durable, weighted tool for students to use. Probably not good for sensory seeking chewers who like the feel of the rubber tip.

cosmonaut stylus

2. Kensington Gummi – (9.99) A small rubber tipped stylus for small hands. Available in different colors.

Kensington Gummi stylus

3. Infinite Aluminum Easy Grip – (6.95) – Stylus with aluminum shaft for easy gripping. Although I don’t own this stylus, similar styluses provided weight for additional proprioceptive feedback for those sensory seeking students.

Infinite aluminum stylus

4. Suck UK Stylus – (10.36) – Another chunky stylus that can work for small hands.

SUCK stylus

5. No. 2 Pencil stylus – (19.99 for pack of 2) – Similar to the Suck Stylus, this stubby stylus has replacement tips.

No. 2 pencil stylus       No. 2 pencil stylus replacement tips

6. Kamor Stylus – (4.99) – Has a mesh tip and a chubby shaft for small, young hands to grasp. I have not used this stylus yet (it is on its way…), but looks promising and at a low cost.

Kamor stylus

Unfortunately the Dano Stylus, a popular stylus of OT’s is no longer available. On an occasion, it can be found on sale from a 3rd party on Amazon, although you may pay dearly for it ( 36.20 – 1 available on Amazon on 7/4/2016 – Dano Stylus )

Styluses for Big Hands

Here are a few styluses for more mature users who are looking for accuracy and control:

  1. Lyntec TrueGlide Stylus – (9.99) This is one of my favorite generic styluses due to its mesh tip which I find is more accurate positioned in a variety of angles for ease of use and input.

Lyntec mesh stylus

2. Adonit Jot Mini – (19.99) Offers refined written input using a tip with a disk for connectivity with use of an iPad. Disk tip replacements are available.

Adonit Mini stylus

3. Elago Stylus– (13.99) This three sided stylus provides a slimmer shaft but a comfortable grip. Replacement tips are available.

Elago stylus

5. The Pencil Grip Ergonomic Stylus – (18.14) This weighted stylus with The Grip applied can be used with right or left hand.

The Pencil Grip ERgo Stylus

Adaptive Styluses

These unique styluses are adapted for individuals with grasping and strength challenges.

1. Caduceus iFaraday Stylus –  (22-25.00) Fortunately this stylus is back on the market for purchase. It is one of a kind with a bendable shaft that is extremely light weight that can be adapted to many hands and wrist for positioning purposes. I recommend adding the SALT tip ( mesh tip) for best accuracy with use with minimal pressure and from different angles. This is an incredible, adaptive stylus! Replacement tips are available.

Caduceus stylus

2. Stylus-R-Us Telescoping Stylus – ( check website for pricing). Telescoping Styluses as well as other styluses are available at Stylus R US. These styluses are somewhat pricey but very accurate and well made. Contact the developer if you are looking for something unique for an individual with a disability.

Stylus the Big Screen Jr. pic

3. Sixth Digit – (29.00) – This Sixth Digit device can be used for tablet input as well as for many pointing tasks. Adjustable, tip replacements available Clever.Sixth digit stylus device

4. Hand Pointer from RJ Cooper – (29.00) – This adaptive stylus has a great strapping system to secure the stylus to a hand in multiple positions.

 RJ cooper handpointer stylus pic

Note : Mouth pointer styluses are listed in the equipment menu on OT’s with Apps Blog.

Certainly there are many more styluses, however the above styluses are recommended from experience with use of almost all of them.

What stylus do you recommend for your mobile device tool kit?

Carol – OT’s with Apps

Posted in Accessibility, Accessories, Android, Assistive Technology, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Mobility Impairment, Occupational Therapy, Physical Disability Tool, Stylus | 1 Comment