Sunday, March 25, 2012

Child with autism? There's an app for that!

So, we recently decided that we should buy a tablet computer for the family. We knew that the touch screen and variety of apps available could be a positive thing to do with Skyler to help him to develop. What happened when we got out Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (which we got over the iPad 2 due to personal preference, better reviews and a bitter hatred for everything Apple), however, completely surpassed our expectations. We have always known that Skyler has an amazing intelligence about him, but we could not see it with the fact that he just was not talking. Almost immediately Skyler took to the tablet like a fish takes to water and we finally got to see our little boy show us some of the things that we could only imagine before. Within minutes of sitting down with the tablet he had figured out, on his own, how to go in and out of applications and change pages in the menu. He had begun to understand which applications he liked and which ones he didn't. All of these apps have had a positive effect on him in some way or another.

Kids Doodle
This is the app that first convinced us to get a tablet, as Skyler became obsessed with it on my phone. It's an app with a simple concept and one of many drawing applications available for Android devices. Where this application sets itself apart, however, is that colors that are used automatically change with each stroke which proved to be constantly entertaining for Skyler. The app also allows for a variety of drawing styles, from the neon seen above to crayons. This app has allowed Skyler to refine his fine motor skills and we have seen him start to imitate different shapes and drawing styles as we do them. It's a wonderful application that can be downloaded for free here from the Amazon App Store (NOTE: You will have to manually download the Amazon app store itself in order for the application to transfer to your device).

Tracing ABC
This app has especially done wonders for our little boy. The concept is simple: Trace along the stars to write letters, numbers and shapes. The stars pop out and make a small "ding" sound as they trace the letters which gives the kids a very tactile feel as they trace, making every letter exciting. Before you trace each letter the app says the name of the letter and afterwards it shows a picture of an object that starts with that letter as it says what the object is. This is the best app that we have found for our little boy as he has begun to learn his letters, follows patterns, and it ahs taught him more words. He now recognizes several letters by sight and says the name of them as they come up. In addition, he has started to say some of the words of the objects as they come up such as "queen", "box" and "alligator". For a boy who a month ago had a vocabulary of around 5 words, this application has been a godsend. It is available from the Amazon Marketplace here for $1.99, and it's worth every penny.

Angry Birds
Angry Birds is a little something of a phenomenon. Everybody in the world knows this little game of flinging polygonal birds at disembodied green pig heads and there is a good reason for it: it's simple and it's fun. While many games go over Skyler's head, this app shows that simple is sometimes best as he knows how to aim the birds, shoot them backwards, restart levels, go back to the main menu... all without coaching. DISCLAIMER: two year olds will play this game differently than thirty year olds... and it may drive you crazy, but they'll have a blast! There are several different versions available including the original, Angry Birds Season, Angry Birds Rio, and the recently released Angry Birds Space (available here).

Other Games
There are many other games/apps that Skyler enjoys that may require assistance from an adult. Plants Versus Zombies, Office Jerk, Cut the Robe, Gravilux, Airport Mania and Flick Football are all games that Skyler seems to enjoy and are all available from the Amazon App Store and may be enjoyed by adults as well as kids. I would also recommend checking the amazon App Store daily as every day it has a new app for free that you would normally have to pay for. Many of the apps that I have found I got from this method.

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