Saturday, January 17, 2015

BEST Apps for Autism-2015

It's a new year, and with that new year we want to provide the most up-to-date resources and support possible to assist our readers in search of practical help for challenged readers and learners of all ages. Many of those readers are parents, teachers and counselors of children, teens and adults on the autism spectrum.

As you can imagine, it takes a very special individuals to serve the autism community and its families. Patience and compassion can go a long way to soothe the fatigue of a parent who has experienced just too many meltdowns. Encouragement and gentle motivation are other gifts needed to help teachers make a real difference each day in the lives of the children in their classrooms who are on the spectrum. Determination and fortitude are front and center in the social workers who try repeatedly to place adults with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) in appropriate employment situations and/or housing arrangements.

We tip our hats to ALL of them and would like to provide some assistance from our end of of the community. After all, if one is not part of the solution, then there is a possibility that one is part of the problem. So, this week our part is to provide a new crop of resources for the new year---resources in the form of apps and app lists for persons of all ages on the autism spectrum. Since it was back in 2013 when we created our last list of these autism apps, we thought it was the right time for a new list to be presented to our readers.

This past week, we gathered together a collection of autism apps here that we hope will provide some much-needed support for the individuals and their families in the autism community. We also hope that parents, teachers and counselors, who have very little time, will find this list convenient with many of these specialized apps ALL in one place. From organizational apps to social and educational apps, you'll find them all here---here in 2015!

Happy Reading---AND Happy New Year one more time!

BEST Apps for Autism

Autism Apps---current list provided by Autism Speaks
Apps are listed in alphabetical order. You can sort apps by rating by clicking the "Rating" link above that column. You can rate apps by first clicking on the app name to visit the app detail page. Then, below the description of the app, click on the number of stars for your rating of the app.

Look At Me---New App to Boost Social Skills of Autistic Kids (Released by Samsung)
This new app aims to train autistic children to maintain eye contact and convey basic emotions.
Article & VIDEO:

13 Best Autism Apps for the iPad
by Michael A. Prospero, LAPTOP Reviews Editor
(NOTE: To access the 13 app titles, click on the yellow arrow buttons in the article's graphics.)

Android Apps Autism Parenting Magazine 2015
The latest list of Android apps for autism from Autism Parenting Magazine.

Social Skills and Autism Apps List (1/13/15)
original list by Jessica Chase, MA, CCC-SLP
This list contains apps for life skills, conversation starters, conversation maintenance, idioms, non-verbal communication, eye contact, emotions and many more.

9 Great Apps For Kids With Autism---by Patricia-Anne Tom (9/18/14)
Experienced readers with kids on the autism spectrum share nine apps that have helped improve how their kids interact with others.

Reading Focus Cards Desktop App (Patent 8,360,779) (for Macs & Windows PCs)
from Brennan Innovators, LLC
This DESKTOP app is the digital version of the physical Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565,759), solutions for struggling readers. This app for Windows PCs and Macs provides practical READING SUPPORT for children and adults with ADHD, dyslexia, autism and other conditions that can affect reading success. It promotes more FOCUS, FLUENCY and VISUAL COMFORT for online reading of almost ALL digital media (webpages, PDF files, Word docs, Excel spreadsheets & more.) In addition, the Reading Focus Card app is compatible with and supports touch-screen technology. The application can be moved on the screen over text by the fingers, mouse or arrow keys as needed.
1. For Macs (desktops & notebooks):
Visit the Mac App Store at or search for the app called Reading Focus Cards.
2. For Windows PCs (desktops & laptops):
Visit Gumroad at OR visit the Microsoft Windows Store and search for the app called Reading Focus Cards. (No URLs are ever provided for apps in the Windows Store.)

Autism Apps---by Special Needs App Review (Some FREE apps)
Autism Apps is simply a comprehensive list of apps that are being used with and by people diagnosed with autism, Down syndrome and other special needs. It also includes links to any available information that can be found for each app. The Apps are also separated into over 30 categories, and the descriptions are all searchable, so any type of app is easy to find and download.

Top 10 Apps and Software for Autism---by Autism Today
These apps and software became widely known throughout the world not only because of their features but also their abilities to manage autism behavior.

For more information on customizable low-tech & digital reading tools for all kinds of challenged readers, please visit: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of:
Autism Mix at
Brennan Innovators, LLC at

Saturday, January 3, 2015

How to Re-Engage Reluctant Readers

The holidays are winding down, and, let's face it, many children are probably not very enthused about the coming week's return to school. Although one Christmas carol's lyrics mention that "...Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again," the parents of children who often struggle in school may be much less excited about classes resuming and the reading that will be required. What can a parent or teacher do to entice, engage and sustain the attention of an unfocused or reluctant reader?

1. Conduct an Interest Inventory.
First of all, it is imperative that you know the interests of the child or students in question. Most parents are very aware of their child's areas of interest. However, if you aren't aware of these, it is possible to do an Interest Inventory to learn which topics truly interest your child, teen or student(s). Please refer to the list of resources to follow here.

2. Why the Interest Inventory Is Valuable.
Once the interest inventory is completed by the child or the individual students, a parent or teacher will then have the needed (and very valuable) information to either direct the students to or gather the books for them on the topics of interest cited in those inventories. Reviewing the information once provided can be very revealing and give an important indication, for example, if non-fiction is preferred over fiction, if history books are of more interest than geography books or the like. The data collected can also serve as invaluable information on which to base future lesson plans, units of study or projects for specific groups of students or individual children, as may be appropriate.

3. The Interest Inventory Is Completed---Now What?
a. If budgets are low (or non-existent, as is sometimes the case), consider downloading FREE e-books for your child(ren) or student(s). For helpful resources of this type without cost, please visit our recent blog article entitled Best FREE e-Books to Engage Young Readers of ALL Ages. Please keep in mind that many e-books can be read on an existing PC or Mac computer, smartphone or tablet without the purchase of an additional device such as a Kindle, Nook or Kobo e-reader. Again, for more information on this, please refer to the resources to follow here.

b. Also, make good use of your school library, local public library or other community library for direct access to physical books on the topics presented in the completed interest inventories.

c. Consider grouping the books according to topic and placing each grouping in a specific area of your home or in a particular classroom location. Provide bean bag chairs and/or soft carpeting in these areas to more readily invite students or children to read---and with more comfort.

d. Teachers will observe that students with similar interests will gather in those areas where "their" books are stored. In so doing, not only will the children be more likely to initiate conversations with their peers about mutually-interesting topics and books, but they just might continue those discussions beyond the reading room or the classroom walls.

e. Finally, ensure that reluctant or struggling readers have the tools they need to read effectively and with success. To learn more about what kinds of low-tech AND digital tools are available for challenged readers in any age group, please visit

The result? Improved interest in reading, better communication as well as better developed reading and discussion skills and increased literacy will be only a few of the benefits of such an approach. We can't think of a better way to begin the NEW Year than to encourage and re-engage reluctant readers to pick up a book that interests them and READ. Can you?

FREE Interest Inventory Templates

Student Interest Inventory Questionnaire (from Scholastic Books for Grades: 2-7)

Student Interest Inventory Questionnaire (from Scholastic Books for Grades: 4-9)

Free Interest Inventory Test For High School Students
FREE printable interest inventories with related documents, manuals and e-books for high school students.

AREA 10 SCHOOL-TO-WORK: Career Interest and Skill Inventories (from Area 10 Schools in Iowa)

Collection of Interest Surveys (from Michigan City Area Schools)
We don't always know what we want, let alone need. An interest survey can help a teacher figure out what his or her students are thinking, what they may want or even need, and how they can best be helped. To find out more about yourself, take an interest survey. The surveys listed in this collection are either web-based or printable.

Compiled Documents for Reading---Vocational Interest Inventories

Other Resources

FREE Kindle Reading App---by
Follow the easy steps presented here to start reading on your tablet, smartphone, or computer:

FREE NOOK Reading App---by Barnes & Noble
Get the most incredible reading experience for your iPad, iPhone and iPod touch®. Access over 3 million books—including 1 million FREE titles—plus magazines, newspapers, comics, and more. Sample NOOK books FREE and try any newspaper or magazine FREE for 14 days.

FREE Kobo Reading App---by Kobo, Inc.
Download the FREE Kobo e-reader app to read whenever and wherever you want, and then choose from a catalog of more than 4 million of the world's best titles.

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas---by James Pierpont (published, 1857)
Reference for lyrics, "...Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again."