Using your phone or tablet with children and adults with disabilities

Your phone or tablet can help your child

Many apps are FREE!

You may have an android phone or tablet, if you do these articles will guide you through how to use it to help your child or relative. Computers, phones, tablets they offer SO much to people with disabilities. It used to be that for someone with poor had use a computer would cost $1000s – yes thousands of dollars. Now things are cheaper and you can get a basic android tablet for Rs 5000 sometimes less. But if you then have to pay over Rs10,000 for an app chances are you it will be too expensive. The good news is that now many apps are free, work very well and can be very useful.

Android Apps

I am going to look at some apps I have tried on my android phone. I do not have an apple phone so cannot tell you what what works on an iphone or ipad – sorry about that. Ipads were the first tablets and so there are many more apps for “autism” and “developmental delay” on the ipad than on android pads. But the number of such apps on android phones and tablets is increasing. Also you can often use apps designed for younger children. That can be hard when as a parent, brother, wife or daughter you open an app designed for preschool children when your child or husband is much older than that.

Brain damage is seen in many causes of disability: A child with cerebral palsy or CP; a child with development delay; a teenager with a hypoxic brain injury; an adult with brain injury from an accident: all of these can cause the brain to be damaged so the person has the skills of a child much younger than they actually are. So if we look at apps for preKG and KG children we may find apps that they can use. The challenge it that it can be upsetting to see your 8 year old child needing to use a app labelled for pre-school children. It reminds you of your child’s disability. But by using these apps you can help your child develop new skills and enjoy using the phone or tablet.

What Apps to look for

Many apps are written by the relative of a child with xxxx. When you search you need to use names for problems that your child has or LIKE your child has. So your child may have developmental delay but does NOT have autism. If you just look for apps for children with developmental delay you may not find many. BUT it you look for apps for children with autism you will find many that will help your child. You can look for general apps about colour, shape, numbers just pick one the same “developmental” age as your child. So don’t worry what the app says it is for. If it is fun or useful for your child then use it!

I will use the word phone to mean tablet or phone to save writing “tablet or phone”. When I say child it is because I work with children but it means anyone with a disability who has skills like a child’s. I hope this makes sense! Here is the first app.

My baby piano

This is a Great app.

General info

  • It plays in landscape mode
    • The key height is then half the landscape height of the screen
      • if you hit anywhere in that half (ie bottom half) of the landscape screen a sound will play. You do not have to hit a specific key to get a sound.
      • with more hand control you can aim for a specific key but these are quite small.
    • Very colourful – each key is a different, bright rainbow colour
    • Piano fills the width of the landscape screen – there are 14 keys across the phone/tablet.
    • A small banner advert along the top of the landscape screen.
piano app
Screenshot of the My Baby Piano

Starting

  • It starts with the keyboard filling the width of the screen.
    • Each key of the keyboard/piano has a letter on top with eyes to give them characters.
    • You hit a key and sound plays,
    • You can hit two keys or more and the pressed keys will play ie chords
    • When you hit the key the key moves – depresses – and the letter jumps up and bounces a little.
  • There are 4 symbols above the keyboard
    • Press the notes symbol and it plays a tune eg twinkle twinkle little star. Press again and it plays another tune. 6 tunes in total.
      • When playing the letters above the keys jump as they are played in the tune.
        • The keys do not move during the songs
      • Press the pause button and it stops
    • Press drumsticks and it plays a rhythm. Can play a tune. Has several programmed installed.
      • can play keys with background rhythm playing
      • press the pause button and it stops
    • Any time you press pause and the music or rhythm stops then when you press the piano key is goes back to start up mode ie press a key and it plays with no tune and no rhythm

How to use

    • Basic skillsno hand action from child needed.
    • You can press the keys for the child to see the movement and hear the sound on the screen
    • you can start a song playing – but it will only play once it does not loop and play continuously
      • you will have to press the tune key again to get the next tune
      • if you want to play the same tune you have to hit repeatedly till you get the song you want
    • Basic skills with child’s hand action
    • You can involve your child by getting them to touch the bottom half of the screen so a note plays. You can do this with or without the background rhythms playing. The child touches anywhere in that half and a sound plays and the key moves
    • You can teach the child to hit specific keys
    • You can teach the child to hit the small keys that start the songs and the rhythms playing.
    • Advanced skill:
    • You can play and tune and try and touch the right keys – pretty difficult unless you learn the order the keys play in! Doing this you are learning to play the piano!

Overall

  • Great sound (auditory) feedback
  • Good visual feedback
  • Get a sound pressing anywhere on half of your screen – minimum hand control needed.
  • Progress to pressing one of 14 specific keys – much better hand control needed.
    • Some children could learn to play tunes if they are further developed.
  • Will teach cause and effect at very early stages of developing hand (motor) control. Cause – they press the screen; effect – a note is played.
  • Totally free with banner ad at the top which is not intrusive
  • Worked well on my phone, nice sound
  • useful for
    • sensory stimulation – ears-sound and eyes-vision – even if just watching it
    • hand skills
    • cause and effect
    • learning notes
    • memory if learn the order the notes are played in

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We hope this information is accurate; if you have any additional information that may be useful or spot any mistakes, please let us know.

Last Edited August 2015

Christian Medical College, Vellore
PMR Department

Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
at CMC, Vellore

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