Advice on getting your child with special needs a phone
Parents weigh in on a phone for their special needs child?
Real Parents Sharing Their Experiences and Advice
Please be advised that the information that is shared on this page is for general knowledge and information from parents and (some) professionals.
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Your Parenting Special Needs Q&A’s
Q1:“We are planning on getting our 20-year-old daughter her first phone. She can’t read well and currently has an iPad. Any recommendations on an iPhone over Samsung?”
- “If an individual with disabilities is accustomed to using one operating system, changing that can create frustration and confusion. If your child is already using an iPad, the sensible choice is an iPhone. Buttons mean the same thing; they operate and are organized the same way.” – Rachelle L.
- “I would say the Galaxy Note 5. It is completely customizable and wonderful.” – Katt A.
- “Apple has all the same systems, everything transfers and you don’t have to learn/manage multiple companies’ devices.” – Angie S.
- “I have an iPhone 6s Plus and I find it much easier and smoother than my old Android (Galaxy since the S5, I’ve had them all). My son also uses an iPad Mini and loves my iPhone. The screen on my phone is nice and big too. It will also sync with the iPad or a Mac computer or laptop.” – Kelly S.
- “I would stick with the iPhone because she is already using the iPad. I would look at an iPhone 6s Plus because it has a larger screen. Oh, and get the life proof case!” – Ann S.
- “There’s an assist feature on iPhone to translate talk to text, and text to talk. My daughter is 17 and can’t read very well.” – Teri B.
- “iPads & iPhones can be linked together so everything from apps to pictures to contacts can be linked to her iPad, so she won’t have to download all her apps, games, contacts, etc. all over again. I’d also recommend the metal housing mobile phone case as it protects the iPhone casing back and screen. It’ll make it heavier, but if it gets dropped or thrown, it won’t smash the back or screen.” – Emma L.
- “You can put SIM cards in iPads which saves buying an expensive iPhone. Just a thought.” – Sarah L.
Q2: “Does anyone have a phone for their special needs child? Specifically, my daughter is mild ID, processing disorder, ADHD and OCD. However, she’s also 14 and sees her friends with phones. My husband and I were wondering if there’s anything on the market that would be like an iPhone without the huge cost. She will be using it for calling, texting, and apps. I would like something that allows me to set specific limitations.”
- “I know the iPad has a guided access so they can’t access something “not approved”. I don’t know if phones have the same features. I have not seen anything like that with Android phones. I know I love my Android phones and tablet but like the guided access in the school’s iPads.” – Luanna L.
- “Tracfone: It works anywhere, is a phone like everyone else’ and it’s pay as you need it and many come with double or triple minutes. Costs under $100 to buy the phone and under $100 a year for service.” – Tammy O.
- “Androids are cheaper than iPhones and you can set up parental controls pretty tight. You don’t even have to set up a Google Play payment method but can always use a gift card for that. Some carriers offer discounts and free phones for adding a line.” – Jennifer S.
- “I bought my daughter one through Straight Talk Wireless. It costs $30 a month, has a touch screen, uses WiFi when we’re home, and we don’t have to worry about data overages. The best part is that it was free for buying the first card through their website. You can set it up on auto pay or just buy a new card each month. $30 gives you 1000 minutes of talk and 1000 texts as far as I know…but, I’m not sure about the data. $45 a month is “unlimited everything” but I believe data slows down a bit after 4 gigs.” – Rusty D.
- “Speak to your social worker or counselor at school. They have free phones from the state for special needs children. We have a waiver EDCD but I declined the phone as he has access to ours since he is always with an adult.” – Michellen Mark A.
- “My son has a Galaxy Note and he loves it. It allows you to draw and download apps that are easy to use.” – Casey J.
- “My son has one because he is home alone from time to time (He is 17 and high functioning) but he does like to wander off by himself. I got him a Tracfone so that I can control how many minutes he has. You can also go with Straight Talk—it’s a set fee of around $35-$40 a month so you know how much you are shelling out in order to budget. Straight Talk has smart phones as well.” – Denise W.
- “My daughter has similar diagnoses. We had parental restrictions and time limits for a few years until she became more responsible. I mostly needed her to have it so I was able to communicate with her and remind her of things to remember at school, etc.” – Michelle O.
- “Walgreens is where we bought my daughter’s phone. I pre-pay every month, so there’s no way she can overcharge and if she were to lose it, it would only cost about $40. It runs on the Verizon network and acts like a typical smart phone, complete with all the parental controls we added. We can see everything she does if we need to.” – Carlye R.
- “Our 16 year old has had his own iPhone for the last 2 years. We recently added another line to our plan and the phone was free. This way we get all those nifty parental controls that send us alerts when he downloads apps and allows us to see who he’s communicating with.” – KJ B.