Using the iPad in Therapy

I got my iPad a few months ago and I didn’t expect to love it as much as I do. All the fun games and apps aside, it’s made tasks such as checking email (which I’ve never enjoyed) enjoyable. Now I don’t feel like my unread email is looming over my head like the laundry (not that I get that many emails, but they can pile up fast if not checked for a couple of weeks!) For the other reasons (fun games and apps), my kids and my husband love it too. The biggest problem with it is that we have only one iPad to share between all of us!

I’ve recently started to incorporate the iPad into therapy and it has been an eye opening experience for me. For example, just this week I was working with a cute little 5-year old girl with autism. I pulled out the flashcards that we had been working on over the last couple of weeks and she got this look on her face like “I’m NOT going to do this again”, and she turned away from me. So I brought out the iPad and her face lit up with a huge smile. I opened up a simple flashcard app and we instantly began working. She was engaged and we were both having fun. How cool was this! I’m sure many other teachers and therapists have experienced the same thing. It goes without saying that my iPad will be a primary tool in my therapy sessions going forward, and I’m so excited about the possibilities!

Earlier this week Apple announced the iPad 2. Along with that announcement they released this video (below) about the iPad and how it has been used in different industries, including education for the past year since it’s initial release.

Toward the end of the video a cute little boy named Leo, who has autism is highlighted and his mom Shannon shares their story on how the iPad has helped him. I loved it! It reminded me of my 5-year old client and how she responded to working on the iPad. Seeing stories like Leo’s and having experiences like the one I had in therapy this week makes me excited to explore all the possibilities of this wonderful technology! I will definitely be posting a follow up once I have more experience using the iPad in therapy. If any of you (parents or SLPs) have had good experiences with it in teaching your kids, please share! Now if there was only an app for potty training reluctant 3-year olds… I should check.


Here are a couple of links to blog posts from Leo’s mom, Shannon I thought were very interesting too.

My Son the Top-Secret Apple iPad Project

The iPad: a Near-Miracle for My Son With Autism

Heidi - Mommy Speech Therapy Heidi Hanks, M.S.CCC-SLP has been a practicing Speech-Language Pathologist since 2000. She graduated from Utah State University where she completed both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. She began her career in early intervention and eventually started her own private practice where she has worked primarily with pre-K through school age kids. She is the founder of Little Bee Speech, and is currently developing apps for speech and language. Heidi lives in Utah with her husband and 4 children.

18 Responses to “Using the iPad in Therapy”

  1. There’s an awesome (free) potty-training app! It’s made by Huggies. I suggest it to all of my clients who have iPhones!
    Now, if only there was an app that folded the laundry…

    A Developmental Therapist from IL

  2. Heidi says:

    Thanks for that tip Ginger, I’ll look into it!

  3. Nichole Reynolds says:

    Hi Heidi,

    I am hoping to get the new IPAD 2 coming out this week. I am super excited! What apps can you recommend that I can use with my pediatric and adult clients? There are so many options, it a bit overwhelming. I dont want to waste my money on apps that I will never use. Your insight would be valuable!


  4. JoLynne says:

    Will you please let me know the speech therapy apps you use?

  5. Heidi says:

    Nichole, So fun you are getting an iPad 2, it looks awesome! As I’m still pretty new to this stuff, I am now always on the lookout for apps that can be used in speech therapy, but there aren’t too many yet. I also search for apps that may not be intended for speech therapy but that can easily be adapted for therapy. With that said, the apps I’ve been using lately are from ABA (simple flashcard based apps that teach different concepts, and have great images.) I believe they are .99 a piece and though they are made for the iPhone and iPod touch, they work on the iPad as well. I’ve got a lot of good info from Sean Sweeney (SpeechTechie), who is a speech pathologist and writes mostly about how technology can be used in therapy. He also wrote a guest post on my site about some apps that might be useful too. I’d recommend visiting his site for some good ideas. For other kid and education related apps I’ve found these sites to be worth reading as well:

    Moms with Apps
    The iPhone Mom
    Best Kids Apps

  6. Janice says:

    Hi Heidi,

    I use the new techi tools in my Preschool and Pre-K and I work from home and have 4 of my own children also. I use my droid phones and now the Ipad 2 for teaching all the time. I love your site! We usually do phonetic sounds daily with all the children and it doesn’t matter what age they are, the one year olds love it also. We usually do our sounds during our walks around the neighborhood. I work from home also and have an assistant. I’ve taught a few 3 year olds to read books. I have many testimonials. Just recently, one of the children tested into Kindergarten a year early. The school saw that she was well rounded in reading, math, social and cognitive skills. I have a student who is a twin and the parent has weaned one child off the bottle but the other is still on a bottle so I found your site looking for some good data to share with them. They are approaching 4 years in half a year. The one thats on the bottle drools tons so I’m trying to get them on board to wean him but I need documentation to convince them… I found a few sites so far to print off for them. They started with me less than 4 months ago. Wish me luck! My business is called Little Geniuses.



  7. I love to hear when people express my own thoughts and feelings! The iPad is so much fun, but it also offers totally new opportunities for education.

    We recently released our first app for kids, a picture book with animals. In sound, images and text children will learn the names of 30 different animals.

    Heidi – it would be very interesting to hear you, as mom and speech language pathologist to hear your opinion about it.

    Best regards,

  8. Keri says:

    I also have used a program called New Voice for augmentative communication on the iPad. It is more mature for teenagers and adults, and uses high quality voices for text to speech. There are screen shots on their website
    Hope that helps!

  9. Priyashri says:


    I am a speech language pathologist working with students in a special school. I am a big fan of the iPad and the Android (oops) and love playing around. It was then that I figured out the magic potion – the apps ! Oh, they are great alright ! There are apps even for eye contact that I find quite cute. Though am a huge fan of technology, I was initially a bit skeptic wondering whether the traditional therapy will lose its charm and become all gobbledoogeeky with technology. And then, I saw this student walk in with her iPad to school. She totally loves it and has an amazing attention span ! A couple of late night conversations about technology and its benefits with children having autism have brought me to use iPads in my therapy on a consistent basis from the following term. I intend to document little details and really look forward to learning it all with the children this time!
    I look forward to sharing my experiences ;)
    Cheerio !

  10. Heidi says:


    Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us! I am finding the same to be true. I don’t know what I would do without my ipad in therapy now.

  11. Annie says:

    I am using RinApps ArtikPix for all of my artic kids. It is well-organized and easy to use. You can buy the entire app for yourself, but the parents can buy single “decks” of phoneme flash cards for two dollars. I am asking parents to buy specific decks of targeted sounds for summer practice.

  12. Amy says:

    I have a few kiddos who use the iPad as their communication device in speech therapy. There is a great app called Proloquo 2 Go that is just fantastic! Also, an application for visual schedules. Have fun!

  13. Peggi says:

    I have a son who is autistic and has a stuttering problem. We are hoping to have his school pay for an Ipad for him. My question is, does there need to be a service contract (ie, ATT) for wireless, or can we go with our internet provider and that connection?

    Thanks! We have a meeting this week with the school, and I’m trying to get my ducks in a row.

  14. Heidi says:

    Hi Peggi,

    There are 2 versions of the iPad, one with 3-G (which uses a data plan on either Verizon or AT&T) or one with only wifi (which can connect to the internet wirelessly through your home internet service although you’ll need a wireless router for it to connect to your home internet.) You will pay more for the 3-G model than the wifi-only model however. Visit this page on Apple’s website that explains this in more detail. Good luck, you’ll love having an iPad. I’ve found it to be very helpful in therapy for most of my kids. I hope it works out for you!

  15. Jennifer says:

    Hello! Happy New Year! I work with 6th – 8th grade students that have hearing loss (mild to profound). I have yet to find any good apps! I am taking a “app class for SLPs” in April but I can’t wait that long. Does anybody have any suggestions. I’ll post what I learn in April. But until then…I have an empty iPad :-(

  16. Heidi says:

    Hi Jennifer,

    I think 6-8th graders would respond really well to Articulation Station and the best part is you can download the P program for free to see if it would be a good fit for your students. Let me know what you think.

  17. Maya says:

    hello Heidi,

    im a first year BASLP student.
    could u please give me some information on AUGMENTATIVE AND ALTERNATIVE COMMUNICATION.. (AAC) ?

    i want to know what best can be done to develop the speech and language characteristics of a 12 year old child (MR + HI) with the use of AAC

  18. April says:

    Hi Maya,
    Sorry for the delay in response. We are actually working on our next blogpost and it will specifically address augmentative and alternative communication. So please continue to check back. Thanks!