Otsimo Special Education AAC

App review by
Keri Wilmot, Common Sense Media
Otsimo Special Education AAC App Poster Image
Large library of activities focuses on academics, language.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Education app with hundreds of activities designed for kids with learning and attention issues to aid in improving communication, building vocabulary, practicing fine motor skills, and learning social skills in daily routines.

Ease of Play

Menus and subcategories are simple to navigate for grownups. Kids with learning and attention issues might need help initially choosing a correct activity and may need to use the app with a teacher or caregiver. Tasks are simple to complete using a simple tap or drag.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Otsimo: Special Education AAC is a subscription-based app primarily for kids with Autism, ADHD, Down Syndrome and other learning and attention issues. It includes access to hundreds of activities to improve communication, build vocabulary, and improve social skills. Kids also work on fine motors skills with activities like puzzles and tracing. Otsimo: Special Education AAC includes an Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) tool, which helps kids who have challenges communicating with words. And there's a data section for parents to customize the activities and keep tabs on what their kids are doing. The developers claim that activities follow the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) framework. The free download includes limited access to activities and features; unlock everything with a subscription. After a seven-day trial, the subscription costs $119.99 per year; $9.99 per month; or a one-time $229.99 payment to use the app forever. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

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What's it about?

OTSIMO: SPECIAL EDUCATION AAC is organized into two sections: one for kids to play games, and one for parents to see data on the activities.The kid's section has 16 categories separated into topics like Homeschooling, Core Skills, Daily Life, Numbers, Vocabulary and more. Each category has several activities, like drawing or tracing shapes or letters. In the AAC category, kids can tap a picture icon that correlates to words, actions, and objects to create sentences and phrases. Then the device speaks the sentence for them. There are also some social stories with "how to" information about everyday activities such as sharing toys and washing hands.

The parents' section offers data such as numbers of days kids have used the app, which activities they did, and for how many minutes. There are also customization options including difficulty level and how many seconds it takes to provide a hint.

Is it any good?

This excellent collection of activities is a great way for kids who have learning and attention issues to improve their language skills, and knowledge of everyday things and actions, by engaging in simple, repetitive games. Otsimo Special Education AAC's approach has high appeal and its games are simple for kids to play for short periods of time. The auto level features can help kids advance their skills over time. It's also nice that parents can customize their kids' experience. For example, parents can set how much time passes before kids get an automated hint. The clapping sounds for right answers can be really rewarding, especially for kids who benefit from simple praise. On the other hand, there are lots and lots of activities - and they're not always organized very clearly - which might feel overwhelming. Kids will most likely need an adult or teacher for help, particularly at the beginning.

Another downside is that the activity directions are given once -- and quickly at that -- with no option to repeat. As many kids (with or without learning and attention issues) need to hear directions multiple times, this could be frustrating. The AAC option is a great way to test if your kid is responsive to using this strategy to communicate. But, icons are sometimes inconsistent and do not always correlate clearly to the word. For example, the "all done" icon has a picture of what looks like a salad. Finally the subscription price is steep, and deciding which plan to purchase might not be easy. Parents should definitely use the free trial before making any decisions to subscribe. They may also want to check in with a professional, if they work with one, to help decide if Otsimo Special Education ACC is right for their kid.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Make your family's expectations around screen time clear before using Otismo: Special Education AAC. Know that transitioning away from screens can be hard - especially for kids with special needs. What steps can help your kid transition? Verbal reminders of how much time is left? Another activity ready and waiting?

  • Talk to your kid about what it's like to learn on a screen. How is it different than learning from books or other people? Do they feel more or less comfortable when they use a screen?

  • Social stories are a great way for kids to learn and process challenging concepts, such as waiting a turn, sharing toys and brushing teeth. Can you use these stories as templates to help work on other skills?

  • Having patience and "wait time" is crucial, especially when working with kids who might be challenged to process directions or information quickly. How can you make sure that your kid has an opportunity to respond without your guidance - even if it takes them longer than you expect?

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
  • Subjects: Language & Reading: letter or word recognition, naming, reading, vocabulary
    Math: numbers, sequences, shapes
    Science: animals
    Arts: drawing
  • Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: spatial reasoning
    Self-Direction: academic development, achieving goals, goal-setting, identifying strengths and weaknesses, motivation, personal growth, work to achieve goals
    Emotional Development: persevering
    Health & Fitness: fine motor skills
  • Price: Free to try
  • Pricing structure: Free to try, Paid (Free download includes limited content. To access full app, subscribe for $20.99/month; $13.99/mo for 12 month subscription; or $229.99 lifetime. Free trial available, ranges from 7-14 days depending on plan.)
  • Release date: May 1, 2020
  • Category: Education
  • Topics: Numbers and Letters
  • Size: 87.10 MB
  • Publisher: Otsimo
  • Version: 6.8.200430
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 11.0 or later
  • Last updated: June 20, 2020

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