Sunday, June 7, 2015

Apps for Autism - Revised and Expanded

The new "Apps for Autism" by Lois Brady,  MA CCC-SLP  is revised and expanded with lots of new  and updated information....

The introduction to the Apps for  occupational therapy section is written by yours truly !!!!





As the number of Apps for the special education community grows exponentially, thank- goodness occupational therapists have Apps for Autism to help us choose the ones that promote specific “OT” skills such as scanning and eye-hand coordination. Ipads will never replace the sensory stimulation and kinesthetic learning we all experience as we explore objects. However, children on the autism spectrum look at, touch, manipulate objects and learn in atypical ways.  They thrive when learning materials are exciting, predictable, repetitive, don’t feel slimy; and provide cognitive challenge while utilizing their incredible visual discrimination and memory.

All therapy begins with promoting engagement and some of the best ways to promote motor skills as simple as touching a screen or as complex as typing a word is to reinforce (i.e. reward) with bright lights, colors, sounds, music and animations. Most Apps do exactly that!  

The Apps in this section are of particular interest to occupational therapists because the Ipad becomes more than a screen. It is manipulated in ways that develop bilateral coordination, motor planning and finger dexterity. Learners tilt their devices to catch the ABC Maze runaway letter or SCOOP ice-cream. They develop finger control while playing KNOTS and pre-writing skills by painting on Doodle Buddy.

Occupational therapists have especially come to love the handwriting Apps that teach correct letter formation. Letter School is one of my favorites because it requires accurate sequencing and tracing-followed by fun animations. Handwriting Apps such as LETTER LAB enable children with pencil control difficulties to first practice letter formation using only the finger with the option of using a stylus as skill progresses. 

 

The “Apps for Occupational Therapy” section wouldn’t be complete without addressing activities of daily living. Brady includes some of the best Apps to encourage using the potty, choosing weather appropriate clothing, sequencing to prepare meals and putting some fun into the tough subject of personal hygiene.

Now that Ipads are widely accepted and used to help individuals with special needs -of all ages, this revised edition becomes even more important. Occupational therapists can learn about the pros and cons of the selected options and integrate them into treatment plans. It’s an exciting time to be an occupational therapist!

 

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