Special WordsMany teachers in a special education setting may be using the See & Learn reading programme for pupils with Down Syndrome, pupils with autism, non-verbal pupils or pupils with severe reading difficulties. The Special Words app for iPad, iPhone and Android, designed by Special iApps, aims to compliment the work done in the See & Learn programme.

The same images and vocabulary that are used in the flashcards for the programme are used in the app (except for the odd American substitution: “yard” for “garden” and “cookie” for “biscuit”) which makes for great work in consolidation of sight vocabulary and the development of oral language. There are four different activities for the pupil to practise vocabulary in the app: Match Pictures; Match Words; Match Word to Picture; Match Picture to Word.

The pupil is presented with four pictures/words at a time to match. The vocabulary is also spoken in the app so that the pupil is hearing the word and seeing the image and word at the same time.

The settings within the app allow the teacher to shuffle the word order, although it may also be a good idea to leave them as they are as they mirror the order of teaching the words from the programme. The teacher also has the option of changing the image for a word – however, I think that it is better to leave the images the same as in the actual reading programme.

The teacher can also record a new sound file for each of the words. Additional vocabulary can be added to the app by the teacher – this could be useful if the teacher is concentrating on significant vocabulary pertinent to the individual pupil.

The app is available for iPad and iPhone on the iTunes Store and costs €12.99 The App is also available for Android devices on the Google Play Store and also costs €12.99