How Apps Can Support Your Child's Social Skills
One of the simplest apps for this purpose is ComicStrip - CS (pictured), which creates one-page comic strip style layouts with captions. We're also a fan of Pictello's customized interactive social storybooks, which are essentially digital photo books with captions and click-to-hear voice-over. We especially like the voice-over feature (custom recorded or text-to-speech) as it allows Leo to "read" his social storybooks even though he's not reading them.
Another social scripting option is Puppet Pals, which uses photo "cutouts" as characters on a "stage," lets you record voice-over and movements in real time, and then saves each "show." I prefer this app for preparing Leo for new scenarios, but children who can use Puppet Pals independently might find it helpful for processing afterward (Leo's little sister has more than 20 saved shows).
Though Leo doesn't use many of the more formal social skills apps, there are still many excellent ones, focusing on either pragmatics/social language (Hidden Curriculum, Quick Cues, Conversation Builder) or structured exchanges like taking turns (Sharing Timer, Turn Taker). If your child is able to take turns, then any app that allows for more than one player (Fruit Memory, Reversi/Keyano) will allow them to practice doing so. There are even apps with separate-purchase external add-ons like Yoomi (pictured) that help with the transition from digital to analog board games, should that be an area in which practice is needed.
Leo has to deal with social scenarios every day. And even though he is innately friendly and kind, socializing can be frustrating for him because of his recognition and language challenges -- but it gets easier if he has the opportunity to practice the sticky stuff, particularly if he's able to do so independently, or at his own pace. I'm grateful for the apps listed above and what they let Leo do, because practicing a wide range of social skills was much more difficult to arrange and certainly less centralized before Leo had his iPad.
Now that I've told you what we do and some of the apps we use, it's you turn -- which apps do you find useful for supporting social skills, and why?
Additional resources for iPads, apps, and social skills:
- Jessica Chase, M.A., CCC-SLP: Social Skills and Autism Spectrum Disorders App list
- PS 373R Robert Randall School: “Got Apps?” List of Pragmatic and Social Skills Apps: Video Modeling, Social Stories, Social Skills and Group Activities
- Jordan Sadler, M.S., CCC-SLP, and team: Communication Therapy Blog
- Friendship Circle: Eleven Social Skills and Life Skills Apps
Shannon Des Roches Rosa is still looking for an app that can help make small talk less hellish. If she ever finds one, she will write about it with enthusiasm at ThinkingAutismGuide.com, BlogHer.com, and Squidalicious.com.
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