From our Co-Founder and Program Director, Cristen Reat, a selection of recommended apps to help meet the challenges of Down syndrome.
- Simply Sayin’ Medical Jargon: Used and supported by Child Life Specialists in hospitals, this free app uses pictures, sounds, a drawing tool, and a family-friendly glossary to facilitate clear conversation between healthcare professionals, kids, and parents/caregivers. Designed to inform youngsters on what to expect during doctor visits, Simply Sayin’ covers common medical procedures including basic appointments, CT scans, X-rays, echocardiograms, and various surgeries. Pictures and simplified text help reduce kids’ anxieties about facing the unknown in a medical setting. The app is simple in design, easy to navigate, and a great social storyteller for kids and teens with Down syndrome. Usable by English and Spanish speakers.
- News-O-Matic: Reading for Kids is a fun digital news source with a magazine-like feel, incorporating videos and interactive activities. (It’s also ad-free.) Each day the app features five stories covering various topics in the U.S., the world, the arts, culture, sports, and/or science. Journalists, educational experts, and psychologist reviewers prepare all articles, written to three reading levels: K-2; 3-4; and 5th grade up. For kids with Down syndrome, accessible and inclusive features include read-aloud, language options, reading level adjustments, captioned videos, and interactive polls.
- Cognitopia is a collection of customizable web-based apps, designed by experts in assistive technology and supported employment, that teach self-management and independent living skills to individuals with cognitive disabilities. I use Cognitopia’s “My Life” app as an online portfolio to share my son’s strengths, preferences, needs, and goals with teachers and therapists. My son helps me keep it updated through regular additions of pictures, video clips, and insights.
- Popplet Lite is a simple “graphic organizer” for jotting down ideas: just choose a template and insert pictures, text, and/or captions. We have used it to create visual plans for book reports/summaries, science projects, and vocabulary learning. Particularly helpful for students with Down syndrome who have difficulty writing, Popplet is available in a free version or a higher-capacity paid version.
- Dollars and Cents Lite: Understanding and handling money is an important skill requiring much practice. For people with Down syndrome who find money skills extra-difficult to learn, we like Dollars and Cents Lite by Attainment Company. With a simple interface and a focus on three basic skills—counting coins, spending money, and making change—it is specially designed for those with developmental disabilities. Loaded with learning and practice activities.