iPad proves powerful tool for special needs students

Story apps deliver so much more than entertainment for special needs students

One of the most rewarding side effects of producing original storybook apps for touch screen technology is their positive reception by special needs families and teachers, and evidence of the value they add in their education.

Founder and Creative Director of Wasabi Productions, Graham Nunn, was invited to give a special reading and demonstration of the Lazy Larry Lizard app at St Lucy’s School during their book week in August. He was met with a captivated audience of special needs students.

Maria Manzatti, Library and IT Co-ordinator at St Lucy’s says, “iPad story book applications have vastly improved learning opportunities for St Lucy’s students with special needs”. 

While story apps with positive social and moral outtakes are incredibly valuable in educating all children, they’re particularly potent for special needs students. 

“Probably the most significant benefit is their ability to simultaneously teach visually, aurally and kinaesthetically,” adds speech therapist Suzie Jordan. “We find that they improve our students’ motivation to read and stay engaged with a story, which obviously has a positive impact on their learning”. 

iPad apps also develop students’ autonomy as learners because they provide opportunities for self correction. According to mother and founder of the AppAble Facebook Group, Veronika Walshe, the benefits continue on into the home. “All children like to have their favourite books read to them over and over,” she says. “But special needs children want and need constant repetition and that can be an enormous strain on parents. Stories in app form mean that the child can access quality writing in a way that they themselves can control; their reading is improved because the words are all highlighted as well as spoken”. 

Ease of use is another important issue. Children with special needs often lack the strength to hold a book or the fine motor skills to turn the page. “Tapping the page is such an easy action. iPad apps allow children whose intellect is above their physical abilities to access books in a way they couldn’t before,” Veronika says.

Nunn says, “Wasabi Productions is proud to have its apps recommended by special needs professionals, and we’ll continue to support the special needs community in developing new and engaging stories that are easy to use and contribute positively to the lives of all children”.

St Lucy’s School provides an education of excellence for children with disabilities and is based at Wahroonga, Sydney.

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