5 Sensory Processing Apps

Whenever I go to write a blog post anymore, it seems as though I always lean towards apps.  This is because tablets and smartphones are versatile and have a ton of potential, especially for individuals with special needs.  Today’s blog is no exception, as I’m going to cover a list of apps for children with Sensory Processing Disorder.

Sensory Processing Disorder, or SPD, is a “neurological disorder in which sensory information that the individual perceives results in abnormal responses.”  In other words, they do detect sensory information, but the information gets “mixed up” in their brain and results in inappropriate responses.  For example, many individuals feel comforted by the embrace of a loved one.  However, individuals with SPD can spiral into a meltdown by a simple touch.

Did you know we actually have eight sensory systems, and not just five?!  Therefore, individuals with SPD experience discomfort in one or more of the following sensory systems:

  1. Olfactory: responsible for processing smell
  2. Visual: responsible for seeing
  3. Auditory: responsible for hearing
  4. Interoception: this system of is often overlooked, but is frequently problematic for individuals with SPD.  Interoception refers to sensations related to the physiological/physical condition of the body.  (e.g. hunger, thirst, etc.)
  5. Proprioception: sense of muscle and/or joint movements
  6. Gustatory: responsible for the sense of taste.
  7. Vestibular: contributes to balance and orientation in space.  “It is the leading system informing us about movement and position of head relative to gravity.”
  8. Tactile: responsible for processing touch information from the body.

The above information can be found more in-depth here.

5 Apps for Sensory Processing Disorder:

I have written about countless apps on our blog over the past few years.  However, I’ve yet to cover a list specifically for Sensory Processing Disorder.  The following apps have been noted to be helpful for individuals with SPD, as well as their caregivers.  They are designed to help individuals focus, relax, encourage interaction, and more.  Please note they are not meant to diagnose or treat any condition, and are solely used for entertainment purposes!

1. Heat Pad

First up is Heat Pad.  This app simulates various heat-sensitive surfaces reacting to your fingertips.  There are several different surfaces available to play on:

  • Heat: regular heat-sensitive surface
  • Flame: fire at your fingertips
  • Fantasy: allow the moving patterns to hypnotize you
  • Sky: relaxing clouds at your fingertips
  • Spirit: bending the laws of physics, really hypnotic
  • Metal: shiny chrome reflections
  • Glow: radioactive glowing surface
  • and more!

For best results, simply move your fingers along the screen slowly.

Features:

  • Relaxing background music
  • Pause mode for easy doodling
  • Ability to save creations to camera roll
  • Different inertia settings
2. BrainWorks

BrainWorks is an app developed to “provide children with the sensory breaks they need to function their best!”  It is jam-packed with more than 130 sensory activities.

Features:

  • Locations: the app provides different activity lists based on the following four locations: home, school, community, desk/table.
    • Custom locations may also be added.
  • Sensory System Descriptions: after selecting his/her location, the child will be asked how he/she is feeling by tapping a picture that describes them at that moment.  The list of activities will alter depending on their current state.
  • Activity Lists: BrainWorks provides an extensive visual list (image and title) of default activities.  The caregiver can easily remove activities from each list base  on equipment and availability and appropriateness for the age of the user.
    • Descriptions of each activity are found within the Settings mode.
  • Timer: the caregiver can determine the length of the sensory break (2-20 minutes).  The timer will appear at the top of the screen counting down.  The timer is optional and only appears if adult selects it.
  • Custom Activities: the caregiver can add sensory activities to the app by providing a title, image, and picking which lists it should appear on.
3. Miracle Modus

The Miracle Modus app is a source of hypnotic rainbows and soft bells.  It was developed by an individual with autism:  “I’m autistic, and I wrote this because I wanted something to mitigate sensory overload.  I find mathematically-patterned rainbow lights very soothing.”

Features:

  • Individuals will enjoy simply watching the pretty lights.
  • To change the lights, simply tap in any corner, and tap the arrows to change modes.
  • Ability to change or disable sounds, enable or disable modes so you only see your favorites, or re-run the benchmark phase.
  • For more information on this app and autism, click here!
4. Dropophone

Dropophone allows individuals to create their own minimalist melodies.  It allows them to create songs that sound like “drips and drops falling on a tiny orchestra of instruments.”

Features:

  • Press the multi-colored raindrops to trigger notes that loop every six seconds.
  • Combine different colored drops and notes to create your own rainy-day melodic backdrops.
  • A metronome is included to help keep time.
5. Wa Kingyo Goldfish Pond

Another minimalist app designed for pure relaxation purposes is the Wa Kingyo Goldfish Pond.  Within the app, individuals will soon relax watching the goldfish swim elegantly through the crystal clear waters.

Features:

  • Individuals are able to interact with the app:
    • Touch the goldfish
    • Scatter bait that looks like flowers and leaves (tap the lower right-hand corner to activate)
    • Get rid of bait by tilting device
    • Touch the water to make it ripple
    • Create waves by shaking the iPhone
  • Individuals will be able to customize:
    • Background (11 images)
    • Bait (5 different types)
    • Quantity of goldfish (up to 4)
    • Colors of goldfish (4 colors, 10 combinations)
    • Sleep timer (5-60 minutes)
    • Sound volume
  • The theme of this app is described as:
    • “‘Wa’ has several meanings such as ‘peace’ and ‘relaxation.’  ‘Kingyo’ means ‘goldfish.'”
    • The app was designed to imitate traditional Japanese paintings.