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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

iPad App for Children with Dysgraphia and Writing Difficulties

iPad App for Children with Dysgraphia and Writing Difficulties

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Hi!!  I have created a free iPad App for children who have trouble with handwriting...   It is called SnapType:   https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/snaptype-for-occupational/id866842989?mt=8

My Story:

Steven* is a 5th grader that I met during my occupational therapy fieldwork this spring. He is diagnosed with dysgraphia however his mind is sharp, but his handwriting is so messy that he can't even read his own writing. His OT tried countless ways to help him improve his penmanship but nothing seemed to work. The caring OT went so far as to scan his worksheets into a computer but that consumed too much time during class was quite a hassle. Even worse, Steven was very frustrated and getting left behind in class because he couldn't complete the worksheets with the rest of his peers. 

I thought that there had to be a better way to help Steven keep up with the other kids in his class. Then I had an idea, what if Steven could take a picture of his worksheet using an iPad and then type his answers directly on the screen? I searched all over the app store, but there was nothing that did what I wanted. Well, there were a few apps but they were designed for business people and were far too complex for a child to use. 

So I sketched out my idea on a napkin and shared it with Steven's OT. She loved the idea. So I put together a detailed mockup of the app and worked with a developer to build it. A few weeks and a few dollars later, I had a working app!

Steven's OT and teacher are thrilled. However, the real joy comes from seeing Steven use the app. It's effortless for him to take a picture of a worksheet and use the iPad keyboard to type in the answers. He's no longer left behind in class and is now more confident than ever! While he continues to work on his penmanship, he's now able to keep up with his peers. 

SnapType is an iPad app that anyone can use. It's available on the app store for free and I'm hoping to help as many kids as I can by reaching out to OTs, teachers and parents. 

*Name changed for privacy. 

--About The Author--
Amberlynn Gifford is a 2nd year OT student at Springfield College in Massachusetts. When she's not studying, which is rare, you can find her coaching gymnastics and working on all sorts of creative projects. She will graduate with her masters degree in 2016 and looks forward to working in pediatrics. Connect with Amberlynn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/amberlynngifford.

Best,
Amberlynn Gifford


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Comments (23) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Marissa's picture

I love the concept behind this app. Parents and teachers can make use of this app for worksheets their kids.

vlevans3's picture

This is such a great idea! I never knew there was an app such as this. I am in a classroom now where one of the students literally gets one sentence wrote in 15 minutes and then stares aimessly for the rest of the time they are at their station. After the teacher calls th student up to check on what they have wrote they are very disappointed because 1) The child only wrote one sentence in 15 minutes, 2) the teacher connot understand what that child has wrote, and 3) neither can the student understand what they had wrote themselves. I think this app would greatly benefit this student, and I cannot wait to tell the classrom teacher what I have found!

siyen's picture

Will this app ever be made available on other platforms like Android? We don't own any apple products and this would be an amazing tool for my daughter.

SnapTypeOT's picture

Hi!

We are so glad to hear that this may help your students!! Let us know how it works for them!!

Jessica Ann's picture

Hello, Thank you so much for sharing and developing this fabulous app! My area is elementary special education, specifically low instances disabilities. Does this app provide a speech to text function when completing the worksheets? I am curious to the support it could provide for a student who typically uses a scribe, but can answer the questions orally independently. Thank you for your time.

(1)
Leanne Wroblewski's picture

Hi Jessica. This app does allow speech to text. My daughter uses it for her homework and during class to formulate Sentences. We have found it very useful so far just wish we could use it for maths too. :)

Jessica Ann's picture

Hey Leanne,
That is great to know! One of my previous students already downloaded it and is loving it. He has anxiety when writing , so it is wonderful to allow him to express his ideas without worrying about writing perfectly.
Maybe math will be next! :)

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vcrunnfe's picture

Thank you for sharing! I recently heard about this app from a doctoral student I work with in my masters program. I teach a 2nd grade class and have two students come in each day for writing inclusion. I think this will work great for one of them! I also have two general education students who, as you mentioned in your post, are very bright, but have great difficulty getting their thoughts onto paper. I want to try this with them as well.

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