Free Resources for Families of Children With Autism and Other Special Needs During the Coronavirus
With schools and learning centers staying closed indefinitely due to the coronavirus, families and students are finding themselves having to adapt to learning from home.
Here is a list of fun, free resources and subscriptions to engage your child and support their learning during this time!
Also, Stages Learning Materials is now offering free autism resources for download, print and immediate use! Stages Learning Materials offers resources that will enrich your child’s social/emotional and behavioral development.
Organization and Maintaining Routine
- ABA Desk: http://blog.abadesk.com/2020/03/16/surviving-the-covid-19-pandemic-with-children/ ABA Desk is a blog made for ABA clinicians. Their blog post, “Surviving the COVID-19 Pandemic… with Children” is a helpful resource for parents of children with Autism. It outlines basic strategies, things to remember, tackling academics, and fun video links for children to enjoy during this time. Learning ways to stay calm and organized during this confusing time is important in creating a space that is productive and positive for your child with ASD. ABA Desk is free.
- Birdhouse for Autism: https://search.bridgingapps.org/apps/0a4490ff-c9f1-da0e-cc1c-621326ca93a2 Birdhouse for Autism is an organizational tool for parents to keep track of behavior notes, nutritional information, schedules, interventions, and more. With the app, families can monitor daily behavioral journals, share information with spouse, caregivers, teachers, therapists, etc., track sleep cycles, organize medications, and stay in control of their child’s progress. In creating new daily norms and routines, this app may be especially helpful in maintaining balance in the lives of children with autism. The app is free to download.
- COVID 19- Coronavirus Social Story for SpEd or Early Elem.: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/COVID-19-Coronavirus-Social-Story-for-SpEd-or-Early-Elem-5323750 Created by Noodle Nook Teaching Resources, an education service for students with severe and profound disabilities, the COVID 19- Coronavirus Social Story is perfect for children with autism who may benefit from using visual social stories to understand concepts. The printable story about COVID-19 can help children ease anxiety, understand the symptoms, and learn the best way to keep others in the community from getting sick. Included are additional activities for a comprehension check! The COVID 19-Coronavirus Social Story is available for free download.
- DayCape: https://search.bridgingapps.org/apps/efc5658b-3ad7-4263-83b6-fefd53eb55c3 DayCape is an app to offer children with autism visual structure in their daily routines. Parents and teachers have access to the plan and send tasks directly to the child’s app. It has a simple display with images and visual timer and what tasks need to be done during the day. Based on research about children with ASD, the app includes visuals, color-coding, data tracking, opportunities for adaptation, and Moodshare, which helps children communicate how they feel about the activity. The app, which supports routine and self-regulation, is free to download.
- Visual Schedule & Social Story: https://www.schedulenstories.com Visual Schedule & Social Story is virtual visual support that assists children with Autism and communication challenges. Built-in Visual Schedules and Social Stories are available for use, but there is still opportunity to create your own schedules and stories that appeal to your child! Especially since daily routines have been interrupted, this app can especially help children with ASD understand and transition into their new routine during this time, providing communication and directional assistance. The app is free to download.
- 123Homeschool4me: https://www.123homeschool4me.com/home-school-free-printables/ 123Homeschool4me offers a vast collection of free downloadable worksheets for grades PreK-junior high. The website is organized by grade level and offers activities focusing on all school subjects. Finding worksheets and activities similar to those children complete in school may help create a more familiar routine. The worksheets and activities offered are fun and creative!
- A2ZHomeschooling: https://a2zhomeschooling.com/concerns_homeschooling/homeschooling_autistic_children/#advice/ A2ZHomeschooling offers a blog specifically focused on homeschooling children with ASD. The website includes ideas and tips that can be used with any curriculum on any budget, focusing especially on how to assess students from home and accommodate ritual and perfectionist tendencies. They have created a Pinterest board filled with activity ideas and designing a place that is suitable for learning: https://www.pinterest.com/kattkreations/homeschooling-autistic-children/ A2ZHomeschooling is free to navigate and includes links to free downloadable resources.
- Acessibyte: https://www.accessibyte.com/stay-safe Acessibyte is an app created specifically for students who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, or have learning differences and need practice typing, studying, or general homework help. For children with autism, Acessibyte’s text-to-voice, magnification, and visual settings can support students who may require additional visual support. They are currently offering a 45 minute free access period for users.
- Autism Classroom: http://www.autismclassroom.com Autism Classroom is a website created specifically for parents and educators of children with autism. They offer free teaching materials and tips on setting up a home classroom space and creating a productive learning environment. Autism Classroom provides a number of free downloadable materials on their website and their Teachers Pay Teachers Store: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Autism-Classroom/Price-Range/Free.
- PBS KIDS Daily: https://www.pbs.org/parents PBS KIDS offers activities for ages 2-8, offering ideas that will help enhance your child’s social-emotional, literacy, math, science, and arts skills. You can choose between crafts, experiments, recipes, apps, and more. You can also refine your search by favorite T.V. show characters! PBS KIDS’ graphic presentations may especially appeal to children with ASD. Sign up for PBS KIDS’ weekday newsletters for activity ideas.
- Special Needs Homeschooling: https://specialneedshomeschooling.com/about/ Special Needs Homeschooling is a blog created by a mother with four children diagnosed with autism and ADHD. She has been homeschooling her children for 13 years and documents resources, tips, and reviews curriculum that she uses to enhance her children’s learning. Special Needs Homeschooling is free to navigate and offers links to additional free resources.
- TeachTown: http://web.teachtown.com/schools/ TeachTown Basics provides an ABA-based curriculum that addresses the academic, cognitive, and social/emotional challenges faced by students with ASD. TeachTown offers a play-based curriculum that fosters imagination, engagement, and movement. TeachTown Basics is available free for 30 days with email sign-up.
- Vizzle: https://home.govizzle.com/features/ Vizzle is an excellent resource for parents with children on the autism spectrum. Parents with children with special needs know that staying on the course of learning is important. Founded by a team with education and special needs backgrounds in collaboration with experts. Sign up for 30-day free access where you can set lessons and then review and learn from their progress.
- Beeline Reader: https://www.beelinereader.com/education Beeline Reader is a browser extension that focuses on improving the reading abilities of students of all ages and skill levels. Beeline displays text using color gradients that supports visual tracking and allows readers to focus more on other aspects of reading, such as decoding and comprehension. Independent research by educators and literacy nonprofits shows that BeeLine Reader provides strong benefits for readers across general education and special education. They are currently offering a free COVID-19 program.
- Dog on a Log Books: https://dogonalogbooks.com/printables/ Dog on a Log Books was designed by a mother who homeschools her child with dyslexia. The website offers decodable books for struggling readers with fun characters and additional printable games and activities to support reading comprehension. The visual and scaffolded nature of Dog on a Log books may especially support the learning of children with ASD.Dog on a Log is free and has a collection of downloadable books to enjoy.
- Dreamscape: https://www.squigglepark.com/dreamscape/ Dreamscape is an interactive video game app that combines strategy and imagination to support literacy instruction for students grade level 2-8. Dreamscape focuses on 100 high frequency words that account for 50% of the words found in text. Using this time to help support your child with Autism’s fluency with high frequency words will help them to be a stronger reader. Download for free on Google Play or the Apple App Store for free.
- Ascend Math: https://ascendmath.com/coronavirus-offer/ Ascend Math offers individualized math instruction for students. Fill in a form about your child’s learning habits and Ascend Math will develop a study path that identifies and focuses on gaps in your child’s learning. They offer Special Education, ELL, and alternative learning models as well! For children with Autism, Ascend Math’s individualized approach to conceptual objectives, motivating reinforcements, and progress monitoring may reflect on the data collected on your student during regular school time. This helps to maintain a sense of regularity, still providing important supports! Their resources are currently free until the end of April.
- Bedtime Math: http://bedtimemath.org/fun-math-at-home/ Bedtime Math offers a collection of non-screen math learning for students as well as an app to explore! Bedtime math caters to learners ages 4-9 and includes printables, books, crafts, and movement activities for students to practice their math facts. Each “Daily Math” problem is presented in different ways to appeal to different learners. For children with autism, BedTime Math’s differentiated approach appeals to all levels of learners! Bedtime Math is free.
- DreamBox Learning: https://www.dreambox.com/at-home Dreambox Learning offers math lessons for students grade levels K-8. Students can set a weekly goal and “level up” as they make progress in learning. Student progress is monitored and collects data, creating personalized interventions to suit student needs. The personalized approach and goal-oriented learning can be customized to reflect the IEP of a child with Autism. Dreambox Learning is offering a free 90 day trial if you sign up by April 30th.
- Backpack Sciences: https://www.backpacksciences.com/science-simplified Backpack Sciences offers videos of hands-on science lessons for elementary school students. Included are videos for parents and educators on how to present the lessons and helpful tips. For children with ASD, lessons are scaffolded by learning level (higher complex concepts are presented in a different font color), so learning can be catered specifically to your child. Backpack Sciences videos are free.
- Biology Simulations: https://www.biologysimulations.com Biology Simulations offers virtual lab simulations for students to explore. Topics include biology, evolution, ecology, and cells. For children with Autism, the graphic, hands-on nature of this activity may be appealing. Additionally, Biology Simulations has a blog with resources available to differentiate learning for all students. Biology Simulations is free to use.
- Club SciKidz: http://www.clubscikidzmd.com/blog/ Club SciKidz offers daily cooking or science activities to do at home. Activities are suitable for all ages and ability levels. A wide range of topics are explored and previous activities can be found in their blog! Each daily activity comes with a written explanation, numbered steps, and videos from different creators to support the learning of your child with ASD. Sign-up using your email for free.
- ActiveHistory: https://www.activehistory.co.uk ActiveHistory offers a collection of interactive simulations, decision-making games, quizzes, worksheets, and lesson plans for students grade levels 5-12. Students have the opportunity to explore interactive online computer simulations of periods in history and learn at their own pace! ActiveHistory provides a multimedia approach, including reading, podcasts, music, and TedTalks to support exploration. For children with ASD, the hands-on self-guided approach may benefit those who enjoy studying topics in-depth, with a wealth of resources to support them. They are currently offering free access to all of the simulations on their website.
- National Geographic Kids: https://kids.nationalgeographic.com National Geographic Kids offers grade-level games, videos, and downloadable activities for kids to explore. The website covers a wide range of topics about the world around us and invites kids to explore. In addition to fun, educational videos and games, National Geographic Kids also offers “Homework Help” to support learning. For kids with ASD, their interactive maps, glossaries, and study tips can be used to create an individualized learning opportunity. National Geographic Kids is free to use.
- Wonderopolis: https://wonderopolis.org Wonderopolis offers a collection of content for grades K-12 that align with Common Core State Standards. Everyday, Wonderopolis poses a “Wonder of the Day” question covering a vast range of topics. There are a vast number of articles and videos to explore, and kids can write in their own “wonders” to be answered! Each question and comment submitted to Wonderopolis receives a personal response. For children with ASD who may have very specific interests, Wonderopolis is a wonderful resource to explore their ideas. Wonderopolis is a free resource.
Arts, Exploration, Social Emotional and Movement
- Art Projects for Kids: https://artprojectsforkids.org Art Projects for Kids offers free, fun, and unique art projects! The detailed, scaffolded, “how-to-draw” lessons offer a clear, numbered approach for children with autism to follow and enjoy. Art Projects for Kids offers free projects on their Daily Blog.
- Fluency & Fitness: https://fluencyandfitness.com Fluency & Fitness helps students review essential K-2 reading and math skills while also incorporating movement breaks! There are over 900 videos and 365 skills to choose from! You can all choose the pacing of the video based on your child’s skill level while enjoying movement, animation, and music at the same time. For children with ASD, studies have shown that movement-based therapies boost social skills, communication abilities, attention, and behavior. Especially being cooped up inside, incorporating movement into learning is an opportunity to support learning and get some energy out! Due to Coronavirus they are offering 3 free weeks for families to enjoy.
- GoNoodle: https://family.gonoodle.com GoNoodle is a website of videos, games, and music for children to engage and interact with. Their content is created by a team of child development experts, choreographers, mindfulness experts, and developers who specialize in kid content. GoNoodle is a great source for children with ASD because it provides a multisensory approach to learning through movement and supports children with sensory sensitivities. GoNoodle is free to use.
- Little Twisters Yoga & Emotional Wellness: https://littletwistersyoga.com Little Twisters Yoga & Emotional Wellness offers videos and visual printables of yoga poses and routines inspired by nature and animals for children ages 2+. Little Twisters Yoga provides research-based information that explains how creating a multi-sensory environment that appeals to various learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, etc.) stimulates both the Left and Right side of the brain, enhancing comprehension and retention. Printable lessons including “Space Shape Yoga” and “Kids Yoga Cards” are free throughout the COVID-19 school closures.
- METKids: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/online-features/metkids/ METKids offers a catalog of historical collections ranging from 8000 BC to present time. Kids can explore art and culture, a specific time period, enjoy videos, and a virtual tour of the museum! The MET mission statement outlines their devotion to connect all people to creativity, knowledge, and ideas. For children with autism, the differentiated ways that information is provided on the website allows opportunities for individualized learning. METKids is free to access.
- Minecraft Education Edition: https://education.minecraft.net Minecraft is a game-based learning platform that promotes immersive STEM learning, creativity, and innovation. Explore a vast collection of coding, math, geography, and science topics through gaming! Minecraft also multiplayer simulations, where students can collaborate in their Minecraft worlds, building, planning, learning, and chatting. For children with ASD, using an augmentative communication program supports practice of social communication skills. The education version of Minecraft is free.
- Pathway 2 Success: https://www.thepathway2success.com Pathway 2 Success was created by a special education teacher with a specialization in Autism. Her blog is created for students with ASD, focusing on social emotional learning, behavior management, coping strategies, mindfulness, and social skills. Each of these topics can be explored in depth with available resources. She currently has a Distance Learning Tab on her website specifically for parents to utilize during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pathway 2 Success is free to navigate with free downloadable materials.
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