Learning Aids are tools or resources used by and for children with special needs, and particularly those with learning difficulties. With the increase in the number of children with autism, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), dyslexia and other learning difficulties, parents and teachers have been challenged to find assistance that makes it easier for the children to learn, acquire skills and be motivated. The tools used for learning difficulties or disabilities are sometimes a more methodical and creative use of aids applied in teaching in mainstream schools. In today's environment, computers are essential tools for both special needs and mainstream students. However, the computer is used more in the form of assistive technology for special needs with many kinds of software available as learning aids.
Teachers and parents trying to help children with special needs have to look for software that can be used as part of the learning program. Karl Smith, a software developer with an autistic child, realized that intensive methods of learning required a lot of adult time that was costly. He tried to fill this requirement by developing the DT Trainer, which is "a large software package of many learning content programs that target the needs of individuals who are developmentally two to nine years old," according to "Exceptional Parent" (EP) magazine.
Speech software helps students with augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) needs like children with autism, cerebral palsy, development delay and other language problems. Speaking software makes it easier for them to communicate and express themselves through touch technology. Converting text to speech is another form of speech software that helps the visually impaired or people with other special needs where reading text is difficult. Dr. Glenn M Kleiman, an educational psychologist, says that speech synthesizers and text-to-speech conversion programs can make the computer pronounce words. He adds that if special Braille printers are linked to computers, then any information in the computer can be printed in Braille.
Children with cerebral palsy also have special learning needs that are met when computer equipment and Internet are used with assistive technology. On-screen keyboards, special pointing devices and voice-recognition software help this process. Voice-recognition software translates speech, in real time, into text. This helps overcome language problems, and assists students who have difficulties with writing or using computer keys.
Mindmapping is a useful learning style for dyslexics. It's a way of planning for writing or revising with the help of concept maps. The maps are used to present information in a visual manner, similar to how we perceive ideas in our brain. It starts with a central image and then branches out into other images or thoughts. Mindmap software makes this a simple process for those with learning difficulties, and also helps the average learner.