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Executive Functioning and Assistive Technology

Executive functioning (EF) deficits, common in ADHD/ADD individuals, can cause havoc! Here is a variety of Assistive Technology (AT) to help manage EF disorder. These can be used in both the traditional school and homeschool environment.

Assistive Technology for Executive Functioning Disorder

There are numerous apps to help with executive functioning issues. Listening to recorded audiobooks is a great way for children to hear someone read and let them hear the pace and fluency one should be able to read.  This also allows the brain to stop focusing on the mechanics of reading giving the brain more time to focus on comprehension.  The following links are sites where a human voice reads written material.

Resources for Alternatives to Printed Text - Electronic Text (E-text) and Narrated Audiobooks

  • Bookshare (e-text) – eligibility required and this can be done through the school and/or medical doctor
  • Learning Ally (formerly Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic) (audiobooks, some with e-text) – eligibility required
  • Amazon Kindle (e-text) – also see Immersion Reading in “Listening to Recorded Audiobooks”, above
  • Blio (primarily e-text in a proprietary reader)
  • NIMAC (e-text) – materials must be secured by a school; not available to individuals
  • Check individual publishers for accessible online or e-text versions of textbooks

Simple text-to-speech, E-readers with text-to-speech and other tools

  • Speak command for Microsoft Word (PC)

  • Read2Go (iOS app for Bookshare books)
  • GoRead (Android app for Bookshare books)
  • iBooks (Mac, iOS) – use device’s built-in text-to-speech

Read, Write, and Study Software Suites

Software that bundles multiple supports for reading, writing, and studying.

Graphic Organizer and Mind Map Software

Outlining and mapping software can help students organize ideas for writing, take notes while reading, break a large project into smaller individual tasks, understand broad concepts or complex processes — any information that benefits from a structured framework and clarifying the relationship between the whole and its parts. 

  • Mindomo (Mac, PC, Linux, Chrome, online)

 

  • SmartArt Graphic organization layouts built into Microsoft Word (2007 and later)

Speech recognition (speech-to-text)

Also see MathTalk and SpeakQ, below, for other software that employs speech recognition.

  • Dragon Anywhere (iOS, Android) – syncs custom words and macros with some Dragon desktop editions

PDF Annotation

Type on PDF version of the worksheet, quiz, or other handouts vs. writing by hand.

  • Preview annotation toolbar – annotate PDF documents (included in Mac OS)
  • Skim – free PDF reader with annotation tools (Mac)
  • Acrobat Reader (Mac, PC) – PDF reader w/ annotation tools, markup

  • PDF Expert – PDF reader with annotation tools, text-to-speech (iOS)
  • Kami (formerly Notable PDF) – PDF reader with annotation tools (Chrome)

Assorted Reading & Writing Supports

Supports for spelling, grammar, word choice, reading level, and visual readability.

  • Ginger – contextual spellchecker (online, PC)
  • Ghotit – contextual spelling/grammar checker with word prediction, other supports (Mac, PC, iOS, Chrome, Android, Linux)
  • Co:Writer – standalone word prediction with topic dictionaries (Mac, PC, iOS, Chrome)
  • WordQ – word prediction, word lists, abbreviation/expansion (Mac & PC)

  • SpeakQ – WordQ plus speech recognition (PC)
  • WordQ – word prediction, word lists, abbreviation/expansion (Mac & PC)
  • Clicker 7 – custom onscreen keyboards, talking word processor, word prediction, more (Mac & PC)
  • DocsPlus – word banks, talking word processor, word prediction, mind mapping (online, Mac & PC)
  • BeeLine Reader – text color gradients aid visual tracking, improve reading speed, reduce the reading effort
  • Mercury Reader – reduces webpage visual clutter for distraction-free reading (Chrome)
  • Rewordify – automatically defines, or substitutes simpler words in place on webpages
  • Snap&Read Universal – text-to-speech, convert the image to text, and text leveling (simplify difficult words) (Chrome)

Taking Notes & Organizing Notes

  • Evernote – digital file cabinet (online, Mac, PC, iOS, Android)
  • IRISPen – handheld scanning pen captures print text, transfers to a computer (Mac & PC)
  • C-Pen – handheld scanning pen reads print text aloud, defines/translates words, captures print text for transfer to a computer (Mac & PC)
  • Sonocent Recorder – a companion app to Audio Notetaker; record and annotate audio (iOS, Android)
  • AudioNote – multi-functional notetaker app (iOS, Android, Mac, PC)

Math & Science Notation, Graphing & Drawing

Math Problem Solving and Processes

Apps and resources to help understand and practice multistep problem solving and sequencing steps.

Assorted Aids for Managing Digital Distractions

  • Isolator – dims, blurs, or hides all but frontmost window to reduce visual distractions (Mac)
  • HazeOver – dims or hides all but frontmost window to reduce visual distractions (Mac)
  • Dropcloth – dims or hides all but frontmost window to reduce visual distractions (PC)
  • ScreenRuler – dims entire webpage except for movable horizontal reading ruler to aid visual focus and tracking (Mac & PC)
  • Screen Masking tool in Read&Write for Google – dims entire webpage except for movable horizontal reading ruler (Chrome)
  • Screen Masking tool in Read&Write – dims entire webpage except for movable horizontal reading ruler (Mac & PC)
  • Mercury Reader – reformat “main article” text on webpage, removes visual clutter (ads, images) (Chrome)
  • Simplify Page tool in Read&Write for Google – reformats “main article” text on webpage, removes visual clutter (ads, images) (Chrome)
  • AdBlock – browser extension prevents ads from loading to webpages (Safari, Chrome browsers)

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  • SelfControl – restricts access to selected websites for preset times (Mac)
  • StayFocusd – restricts access to selected websites for preset times (Chrome)
  • Cold Turkey – restricts access to selected apps, websites for preset times (Mac, PC)
  • RescueTime – tracks time on apps, websites (Mac, PC)

  • Text Mode – replaces webpage images and videos with gray rectangles for uncluttered, text-only reading (Chrome)

Assorted Aids for Attention and Executive Functioning

  • VibraLite – watches with multiple customizable vibration alerts
  • WatchMinder – watch with multiple customizable vibration alerts, messages
  • Reminders – simple but capable to-do list with alerts included with Macs and iOS devices

  • Octopus by Joy – icon-based task scheduler watch designed for young kids (iOS, Android
  • DropTask – visual task manager app (online, Mac, PC, iOS, Android)
  • Trello – visual taskboard for managing tasks and workflow (online, iOS, Android)
  • CoPilot – breaks assignments into a sequence of tasks and schedules them on calendar according to learning style and study preferences (online)
  • Brili Routines – “routine manager” with prompts to assist staying on task (Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, Pebble, online)

  • Wunderlist – task manager app (online, Mac, PC, iOS, Android)

I hope this post has been helpful.  I hope I supplied you with useful information on assistive technology and how it can help children with executive functioning issues.  Please take the time to click on the links in the post as it contains the reference material used to write this post along with affiliate links to products that may be of interest to you. As always, you are welcome to join us for more discussion on assistive technology and/or executive functioning at our FB group, IEP/504 Assistance for parents of public school students from all over the United States. 

AESA also runs a special needs homeschool group, Homeschooling Special (Needs) Kids, and we also have a group for all parents and caregivers of special needs children called Special Needs Parenting Advice and Support where we discuss ALL things related to special needs care and Educating Gifted Children is where we discuss topics concerning gifted children and those that are twice exceptional (2e).  I hope to see you there! 

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