Recently I have come across many educational Apps & programs while searching for tools and programs to assist special needs children. It’s simply amazing what educational Apps can achieve where standard therapy or group skills lessons may fail.
Apps are interactive and children enjoy (and learn) more than when simply being tutored. It’s simply so that children - who otherwise struggle to do required activities or homework! -become hooked the moment that they access electronic mediums. In addition, Apps integrate various learning processes such as vision, touch and hearing, all senses that help us understand and learn the material at hand, over and above the actual therapeutic target area (I am not talking mere games here, I am talking educational Apps).
Apps, being interactive and thus “dynamic”, provide immediate feedback and correction and – important point - make it easier for children to transfer the skills learnt to real life.
What I like about Apps – it’s definitely cheaper than desk top programs! As therapist I would love to integrate electronic programs into my practice. However, most electronic educational programs run op to $3000 (and some up to $58 000) without even annual licensing per individual; then you still have to schedule individual sessions for the child. Can you image the eventual cost to the parents?
Apps therefore could also cut down on medical or therapeutic bills. 10 sessions for your child at the “electronic learning center” could probably be replaced by 2-3 weeks of Apps play. (Apps vary in cost: from $0.99 per App to $15.00).
Children can continue their training (while believing it to be a game only…) at home or on the move (portability feature) with the result that skills are learnt in less time. As already mentioned, it’s enjoyable. Most programs are presented as a Game. Problem solving for example, becomes much easier to learn when trying to save the princess in the tower or attempting to slay the big bad wizard or trying to save a town from being burnt down.
Think about it - ever seen a teenager without his cellphone or IPad close by…?
I am not saying Apps should replace standard approaches and learning. But for children with disabilities such as Autism, Asperger, ADHD and such; Apps open up a whole new world of possibilities especially where it concerns social skills training. Personally, as parent I would still supervise the App. A good App fortunately, normally comes with a dashboard where parents or teachers can monitor the child’s progress.
Here are some great research-approved Apps:
http://thesocialexpress.com - Wonderful App for social skills! The Social Express* is basically an educational, interactive cartoon especially for children and teenagers on the Autistic (Asperger) spectrum as well as ADHD and other learning disorders.
Example: 16 skills are addressed -
● Identifying Emotions
● Problem Solving
● Conversational Skills
● Self-Regulation – Coping Strategies
● Reading Non-Verbal Cues
● Perspective Taking – Theory of Mind
● Understanding Figurative Language in Conversations
Similar to above http://smartyearsapps.com/apps-references-resources/ also offers a very affordable App for social skills.
Not to forget social skills for struggling high school students- https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/everyday-social-skills/id375396536.
Conversation Builder especially for children with language impairments.
For children who struggle with nonverbal skills, Proloquo2Go helps give them voice.
Drawing Pad offers children the opportunity to draw and write words. Also great for communication where verbal problems exist.
Look in my eyes for children who experience difficulties with eye contact such as children on the Autism spectrum. Buy on iTunes.
A variety of educational APPS can be downloaded from https://itunes.apple.com/app/proloquo2go/id308368164?ign-mpt=uo%3D6&mt=8 (Just make sure you select educational Apps, not only those for fun!)
Also take a look at http://a4cwsn.com/tag/social-skills/. There are free educational Apps varying from speech therapy, occupational therapy, phonics, visual performance, memory, and plenty more.
http://www.appymall.com/appystore/preschool offer preschool educational Apps for literacy, language, numerical and creative skills.
https://autismapps.wikispaces.com/Functional+and+Social+Skills for functional and social skills.
Should you wish rather to go with CD’s or online programs, also take a look at –
http://www.socialskillbuilder.com/ - CD use for your classroom at great prices.
Are you already making use of Apps or online or CD programs? Please do not hesitate to share with us if you found them successful!