When you are faced with the news that your child might be learning disabled, you have to navigate a whole new world. This could mean anything from finding the right school, a good support group, therapists, resources, doctors and tools that you can use at home to keep your child engaged and on track. Some people become proactive when they realize what they are facing and some become reactive and still others become inactive. It doesn’t matter how you react when you realize you need the help, as long as in the end, you can find the right resources for your child(ren), because in the end, we all just want what’s best for our children, no matter what their circumstances are.
Cristen Reat is not your average mom of two. When she found out that she had an older son with Asperger’s and a younger son with Down’s Syndrome, she was constantly looking for resources not just them, but for herself, and along the way, she learned a LOT. The main thing she learned was that her younger son had problems manipulating the mouse on a computer, and the blinking cursor was difficult for him to focus on and see. But, she noticed that when he had her phone, he had no issues manipulating the touchpad screen and going to his favorite learning app and just working away!
Cristen was in a support group and she began to compare notes with Sami Rahman, a father in the group who has a child with Cerebral Palsy, and he said he noticed the same thing. They started to meet outside of the group and look at the various apps that were out there for the learning disabled and compare notes. They would spend hours pouring over apps and websites. In 2010 they decided to build a bridge, or a website, that would list the apps that were available and that they recommended for various learning issues.
Although the site was gaining momentum, Sami suggested they spend $2,000 and put out a press release. Cristen thought he was crazy, but went along with it. From that single press release, the site blossomed and they were seen by Elise Hough at Easter Seals and a partnership was born, and BridgingApps was building bridges.
BridgingApps is a free site to join and has over 3,200 apps that have been reviewed. The goal of BridgingApps is to provide parents, teachers and therapists access to educational and therapeutic mobile apps that they can effectively use to target and improve development for both children and adults with either physical or cognitive disabilities. The apps that are on the site are actually split into categories and skills, not by age, and the search function is very comprehensive.
It is important that the apps that are on the site meet certain criteria and have high standards, so each app is put through a very rigorous review test before it is placed on the site. The reviewers are actual therapists and special education teachers and they actually use the app with someone who has a disability before they write up a review. This way, they can give an honest assessment of the app and what type of disability it will target in the best way.
The site also offers a community for resources and support, as well as offline meetups and groups. The site is supported by grants and foundations and about 1/3 of the users are parents, 1/3 are therapists and 1/3 are teachers. The next step? An app for BridgingApps! It will have a search function, and you will be able to download the apps that you are looking for straight from the BridgingApps app right to your phone or iPad.
We love that BrigdgingApps is building bridges!