Celebrations Big and Small: Apps for Miles of Smiles
Apps for Celebrations
Oh summer, how we have waited for you–a time to relax with family and friends, a time for vacation (or staycation) and endless lazy days… Celebrating the summer season can be full of excitement, new adventures and steps towards independence by trying new things like camp or play groups.
For many families of children with special needs, a change in routine can bring a much needed break. For some of us, new routines and summer time activities like parties, cook-outs, reunions and festivals can also produce feelings of dread. Confronting new sights, sounds and people can affect those with sensory issues and can be a trigger for challenging behaviors. This season can be welcome relief from the school year, but more accurately feel like a roller coaster or obstacle course!
Here are some ideas for celebrating special events–both big and small—whether it is gearing up for the raucous birthday pool party or enjoying fireworks on a quieter scale.
App suggestions include making a special virtual cookie together and sending it to a loved one, video to help prepare for that extended family picnic, and celebrating rewards for completing a task independently or reaching a new milestone.
by Grembe Inc.
iReward is a simple app that has motivational charts to reinforce positive behaviors in children or young teens. Early childhood special educators have used this app with children who have Autism, Down syndrome, ADHD, and other Developmental Delays. It can be used as a visual reward system to motivate the children to finish a task or to prepare them to try something new. It has also been used as a “First/Then” motivator (i.e. first get through the noisy parade, then they will get ice cream). Kids would see pictures of both activities and it helped them to persevere through the task that was less enjoyable for them. The app is customizable, supports multiple users, it is easy to learn and use. We also liked that we could upload our own pictures, so that the reward that the user was working towards was very specific and customized to them.
by Fireworks Games
iLoveFireworks is a great app for a reward, teaching cause and effect and just plain fun. This app allows children to create a single firework or a multitude of fireworks with music running in the background. We have found it can help with fine motor skills for single finger touching or a user can use of any part of the hand to create fireworks. We have used it with children who have a variety of disabilities as a reward between tasks. They love creating a show that they can save and share later.
by Toca Boca AB
Toca Birthday Party is a fun app that addresses pretend play, language skills and is designed to be played with another person(s). The app stimulates the imagination, encourages turn-taking and gives the child plenty of opportunities for communication. The graphics are clear, crisp and engaging. We have used this app with children from 2 years to 9 years with diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder, expressive and receptive language delay, Down syndrome, articulation disorder and pragmatic language disorder.
by Shoe the Goose
Cookie Doodle is an app that is great for working on comprehension of step by step instructions. The app allows for your child to customize a cookie, complete with different colored frosting, shapes, and decorations for a variety of holidays. For younger children, this is a good app to work on comprehension of directions and to work on naming the shapes, colors and decorations of cookies. For an older child, this app can be used for receptive listening skills as well as help with learning the sequencing of events. The combinations of cookies to make are limitless which means you never have to make the same cookie twice!
If you are interested in searching for more apps, creating your own list of apps and sharing them, please go to BridgingApps.org. BridgingApps, a program of Easter Seals Greater Houston, is a community of parents, therapists, doctors, and teachers who share information about using mobile devices (iPad, iPhone, and Android) with people who have special needs.
Cristen Reat is co-founder of BridgingApps and a mother who found success when using a mobile device with her children who have special needs.
- 4 Tips for Managing Parties and Social Gatherings this Summer
- The Birthday Gift
- Summer Staycation
- Enjoying Fireworks with Special Needs Kids
- Socialize Successfully: A Few Simple Tips to Help You During the Holiday Season
- Summer Time: Pools, Sun, Fun, Relaxing and No School!
- How Can My Child Be Independent?
- Think Camp Yes, You Can Send Your Child to Camp
- Apps for Adventure
- Family Adventures in the Summer: Special Diets Don’t Have to Stop the Fun
This post originally appeared on our July/August 2014 Magazine