Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Working "in the box" with apps that are "out of the box"

Dooby is "on" the island. Nooby is "in" the water.
One of my last posts concerned some of my favorite apps which were designed to nurture occupational performance.  I mostly considered apps that were designed with input from therapists, or educators.  They are theoretically "therapeutic" right out of the box.  They are some terrific products, and it seems that more are coming everyday.

Ooga is on the "Left" of Nooby.
Sometimes though, the skills you want to work on aren't supported in the "therapy apps".  In this case, you have to get out of the box and get creative.

I love to see an app that wasn't designed for therapy or education, and a therapist (or educator/parent) is able to apply their clinical (critical) reasoning and utilize the app in a way that elicits a therapeutic response.  This can occur in just the same way a therapist might take a game like Don't Break the Ice, and capitalize on the inherent therapeutic value, even though, the game is just designed to be fun!  This is high level NINJUTSU people!
Nooby is "below" the bad-guys. 

One such example is Pocket God. The opportunity for play is endless! First there is the obvious fine motor/finger isolation required to manipulate the characters. This is true for most apps. I have found therapy using Pocket God with students to act out a scenario. We can then discuss concepts of spatial and temporal concepts such as first-than, top-bottom, left-right, and in front-behind.  I have also used Pocket God, taking screen-shots of specific activities, and then imported those pictures into Comic Life, where students can practice writing out a story line.  Check out this post about using Comic Life in this capacity.

Social Skills practice!

Another mainstream app we've been using is Facetime. Like Skype, but tailored for the iDevices, Facetime makes video communication simple.  This has been a great tool to have our students with Autism, or Traumatic Brain Injury work on social skills with a "pen-pal" from a neighboring school. We have the student write out a script of topics they wish to discuss, questions they wish to ask, and also practice listening and asking "follow-up" questions to be good conversationalists.

So, these are just two ways we've stepped out of the box. But like all good therapy, we addressed pre-established needs. We made certain we were targeting the student's goals, and than we thought about interventions to target those goals.

I'd love to hear from other folks who are finding the therapy in "non-therapuetic" apps!

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