Sunday, November 24, 2013

Top 10 Apps for Helping To Face Fears

All kids have fears. It wasn't until I had to pick my son up and practically jog him out of a store because a fly was bothering him did I realize how crippling certain fears could be. He was in full shaking, crying, heart-racing, panic mode. I did not take him away because he was making a scene. I removed him from the situation because of the terror I saw in his eyes.

Although he is verbal, he is speech delayed and he has trouble expressing his emotions.  He was completely unable to tell me what upset him about seeing a bug. As irrational as it seemed to me, it was very real to him. Bugs are a common phobia, and that was just one of many incidents where seeing a bug triggered such a strong, panicked response.

For many children,  the fear of the unknown can escalate their anxiety. In this case, knowledge really is power. Helping the child understand more about the subject of their fear may help. If they are scared of thunderstorms, knowing what causes thunder or what local weather conditions are may help. Learning what bugs are good or non-threatening can help a child not panic over every bug they encounter.

If a child does not know how to respond when facing a certain fear, social stories are an invaluable tool.  Giving a straight forward approach to how to respond to certain situations and to help children feel prepared can help relieve anxiety. Tamara has compiled a great list of apps to help you create social stories.

One of my son's therapist created a short Social Story about playing outside and seeing a bug. It explained that there are bugs outside and when he plays outside he may see one. When he sees one, it is okay to feel scared. She then listed out concrete steps he can take when he is scared. When he learned that it was okay to be scared and that there were positive actions he could take, his anxiety lessened.

Helping a child cope with or overcome a fear can be difficult. Learning more about the subject of the fear may help build confidence over the situation. Here are some apps we have used to help learn more about common fears in a fun and informative way.

Fears in general:

What Was I Scared of? by Dr Seuss

 This book app is about a little Seussian character who has a fear which seems to follow him. He ran from his fear, and tried to hide from it and tried to convince himself he wasn't scared.  He did not know why he was so scared, but he was. When he finally confronts his fear and learns about it, he finds that there was nothing to be scared of in the first place.

($1.99, iPad/iPhone)

Fire Safety:

Sparky's Fire Safety App

Sparky's Birthday Surprise is a great fire safety app. Sparky, a fire-dog, guides a child through interactive games, activities and even a sing-along, all based around important fire safety information. Check out Andrea's full review of this cute app here.

(FREE, iPad/iPhone)


Franklin And Friends: Franklin's Weather Fun

Franklin’s Weather Fun is a FREE app, which shows local weather forecast as well as fun games and activities to help teach about weather. There are over 100 weather activities, as well as fun facts for the children to learn.

(FREE, iPad/iPhone)

Weather Bug

This is a FREE weather app which gives access to the world’s largest network of real-time weather and lightning sensors for the best forecasts, the fastest alerts and more. Good for tracking possible storms and giving children a heads up of current weather conditions.

(FREE, iPad/iPhone)



This FREE app teaches children about how to care for their teeth and deals with issues such as cavities, abscesses and tooth loss. Using this app may help prepare kids for their first trip to the dentist.

(FREE, iPad Only)

Ed Meets the Dentist

Contains interactive games to help prepare a child for their first visit to the dentist by reinforcing steps that might be encountered at a checkup. This app was suggested in a discussion question about preparing a child to go to the dentist. For all the suggestions, visit our post Top Apps For Going To The Dentist.

($1.99, iPhone/iPad)

Strangers/Getting Lost:

Staying Safe and Safer Strangers - A Stranger Danger Social Story for Autism, Down Syndrome & Other Special Needs by Touch Autism

This app uses social stories to explain safety information and ensure that children will know what to expect and what to do if they are lost. This app was included in our post about Stranger Danger - Articles, Websites, and Apps.

($2.99, iPad/iPhone)

DialSafe Pro

DialSafe Pro helps children learn how to use a phone and dial important numbers, such as 911 and any other numbers programmed by parents. To read the full review visit DialSafe Pro - Review.

(FREE, iPad/iPhone)

Bad Dreams/Isolation:

What a Bad Dream - Little Critter

Many of the Little Critter app books focus on getting Little Critter through life's little predicaments. In What a Bad Dream, he has a bad dream that a magic potion turns him into a scary, disagreeable monster that no one wants to be around.

($1.99, iPad/iPhone)


ABC Bugs

I love the whole ABC Series by Peapod labs. This app has beautiful pictures of insects from every letter of the alphabet. Helps children explore the world of insects through gorgeous images, educational videos and interactive games.

($2.99, iPad/iPhone)

Do you have or know of a child with a particular fear? Have you found an app that helps them talk about and move past certain fears? Share them in the comments section below; you never know who you could help.

Rachel H. has few fears, but her biggest is her children wandering off.

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