Pick Of The Week: Introducing our brand new Play Idea Cards app!

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Our new app is a complete play skills curriculum. As guided by evidence-based intervention principles, the curriculum strengthens students’ pretend and innovative play skills, all for just $9.99!

 

Evidence-Based Intervention
We give you a step-by-step guide on how to develop your child’s play. Practical and easy to follow, it’s also based on years of research that breaks learning pretend play into 14 levels. Find out what level your child is currently on, and what to do next. Clear instruction and easy, executable ideas help your child play with toys at home.

Easy To Follow Play Idea Cards
Our flash cards are easy to use while you (parents, therapists, & teachers) play with your child. Use our suggested play activities, or create your own based upon the ideas from the cards. Most of our ideas come from toys you already have in your home, so start today!

Key Features

  • A clear instruction guide developed by experts in the field of ASD
  • 14 step developmental play scale that works for any child with any language capability
  • Simple play ideas using toys you already have at home!
  • 100+ ideas for how to play with your child
  • An outdoor option for every level so you can take your play outside!

Guide your young learner down the path of purposeful play! 

7 Tips for Choosing Educational Apps for Your Learner

While tablets can provide a wealth of material for teaching all sorts of skills, it can be incredibly challenging to wade through all the mediocre or just terrible apps in order to find something worthwhile for your learner. Here are a few tips for finding apps that are appropriate for your learner’s skill level and interest.

  1. Use social media to get suggestions. I’ve found several apps that I love to use with my students simply through following facebook groups focused on apps in education or apps in special education. If you love twitter, following teachers may also help you get good recommendations.
  2. Look at websites such as teacherswithapps.com or graphite.org. Both of these websites are chalk full of recommendations and reviews from teachers, and both have sections devoted specifically to special education. Graphite.org, in particular, has great search capabilities for you to easily find apps based on subject matter, grade level, or skill type.
  3. Take a look at this exhaustive list from Autism Speaks. This list is focused on apps specifically for learners with autism, and it allows you to filter your search by category of app, age group, and type of device.
  4. Don’t ignore apps with in-app purchases! Many parents and teachers I speak with can’t stand in-app purchases. I’d like to re-label this as a free trial. You can take a look at the app, assess the quality on your own, and see if your child enjoys it. If it looks good, then you get to add content after you’ve tried it out.
  5. Look at the developers of apps you’ve already had success with. There are many app companies out there that are putting out consistenly good educational apps (Tiggly, Toca Boca, Pepi Play, Artgig Studios, and Motion Math just to name a few). So once I find a good app, I always look at the other apps created by the same company.
  6. If you’re a teacher, look for options to modify or individualize material. I always want to use an app with multiple students, so if I’m able to level the material or even add in individualized material, that’s ideal. For instance, Mystery Word Town just added an aspect to the game in which you can put in the individual learner’s target spelling words. What’s better than that?!
  7. Ask other parents, other kids, and your kid! You might find some of your favorite apps simply by starting the conversation with other people. You can even start a conversation by sharing your favorite app.

WRITTEN BY SAM BLANCO, MSED, BCBA

Sam is an ABA provider for students ages 3-12 in NYC. Working in education for ten years with students with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental delays, Sam has developed strategies for achieving a multitude of academic, behavior, and social goals. Sam is currently pursuing her PhD in Applied Behavior Analysis at Endicott College.

Different Roads to Learning’s “What Goes Together?” App is Now Available on Android!

What Goes Together?Our very own app for matching and sorting What Goes Together? is now available for Android devices*. Find it available now in the Google Play Store, on Amazon, and in the Barnes & Noble Nook Store.

This interactive game develops language, discrimination, and reasoning skills in young learners. Clear, colorful images of everyday objects promote an understanding of functions and the relationships between items that children encounter on a daily basis. With built-in reinforcement and error correction, this game provides a solid foundation in building critical expressive and receptive language skills.

Screenshots captured from a 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tablet.

In What Goes Together?, images are prompted with the question “What goes together?” Students then drag the prompted object to the correctly associated object among the 3 shown across the bottom of the screen. Correct responses receive visual and auditory reinforcement, while incorrect answers are corrected by a visual prompt of the correct answer flashing. After all targets have been seen once, they are reintroduced in a new, randomized order. The app takes data for the percentage answered correctly across rounds as well as sessions in which the app is in use.

*What Goes Together? runs an Android 2.2 platforms and up. This app is also available in the Apple iTunes Store.

Tip of the Week: Easy Modification for Promoting Functional iPad Use

The iPad is a highly motivating item for many kids. But many parents and teachers find it frustrating to teach kids with autism to use the iPad functionally. Here are three tips that can help you promote functional use.

  1. Lock Rotation – Some learners with autism like to watch the screen rotate as they move the iPad. This prevents them from using the iPad to complete tasks, create visual or audio products, or play games. There is a small switch on the side of the iPad that is factory preset to mute the volume. You can change the function of this switch to lock rotation, preventing your learner from fixating on rotating the screen.LockRotation_Image
  2. Guided Access – When providing access to the iPad, it’s a good idea to give your learner options of particular apps to engage with instead of providing free access to everything available on the device. For example, during a teaching session, I might say, “When it’s time for a break, do you want to play Match or Simon?” When it’s time for the break, I open the app the learner chose, then activate Guided Access, which makes it impossible for the learner to switch to other apps.GuidedAccess_Image
  3. Timed Play – Sometimes I want to limit the amount of time a learner spends on the iPad. When I am providing a student a break during a teaching session, frequently I limit the time to 23 minutes. Parents may allow their child to play on the iPad for 30 minutes. You can set the iPad to immediately shut off at the specified time. I like to use this function because it prevents the end of an preferred activity from being associated with me.TimedPlay_Image

**Unfortunately, the iPad is the only tablet with which I am familiar. If you use another tablet and have tips such as those above, please share them with us!


WRITTEN BY SAM BLANCO, MSED, BCBA

Sam is an ABA provider for students ages 3-12 in NYC. Working in education for ten years with students with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other developmental delays, Sam has developed strategies for achieving a multitude of academic, behavior, and social goals. Sam is currently pursuing her PhD in Applied Behavior Analysis at Endicott College.

Different Roads to Learning’s “What’s That Sound?” App is Now Available on Android!

We’re thrilled to announce that our very own app for auditory discrimination What’s That Sound? Learning to Listen and Identify Sounds is now available for Android devices*. Find it available now in the Google Play Store, on Amazon, and in the Barnes & Noble Nook Store.

Simple auditory processing skills lay the foundation for learning how to read, speak, and spell. What’s That Sound? is an interactive game that helps develop auditory discrimination and processing skills in young learners. In this game, players will improve their skills by matching objects and their associated sounds.

Reinforcement with balloons shown above.

Screenshots captured from a 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tablet.

In What’s That Sound?, images are prompted with a spoken question “What makes this sound?” and then a sound. Students then tap the image of the person, object, or animal correctly associated with the prompted noise. Correct responses receive visual and auditory reinforcement (see screenshot of balloons above), while incorrect answers are corrected by a visual prompt of the correct answer flashing. After all targets have been seen once, they are reintroduced in a new, randomized order. The app takes data for the percentage answered correctly across rounds as well as sessions in which the app is in use.

*What’s That Sound? runs an Android 2.2 platforms and up. This app is also available in the Apple iTunes Store.

Different Roads to Learning’s “Clean Up: Category Sorting” App is now available on Android!

Clean Up Cateogory Sorting AppWe’re extremely excited to announce that our very own sorting skills app Clean Up: Category Sorting is now available for Android devices*. Find it available now the Google Play Store, on Amazon, and in the Barnes & Noble Nook Store.

Clean Up: Category Sorting is an interactive game that develops language, reasoning, and sorting and classifying skills in young learners. Players of the game must “clean up” by putting 75 photographic images of toys, food, and clothing away in the correct shopping cart, refrigerator, or toy box. Each target is introduced by its label (“Where does the Apple go?”) in each round, where players see 15 unique images.

Screenshots captured from a 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tablet.

Correct responses receive visual and auditory reinforcement while incorrect answers are corrected by a visual prompt of the correct answer flashing. After all targets have been seen once, they are reintroduced in a new, randomized order. The app takes data for the percentage answered correctly across rounds as well as sessions in which the app is in use. Clean Up: Category Sorting will help build foundational sorting skills for students just developing their sorting and classifying skills.

*Clean Up: Category Sorting runs an Android 2.2 platforms and up. This app is also available on the Apple iTunes Store

Just Added! Tiggly Counts – Learn math with fun, interactive apps

Tiggly Counts Feature

A playful world of math learning awaits in the all-new Tiggly Counts! From the award-winning makers of Tiggly Shapes, Tiggly Counts is a set of 5 counting toys that interact with 3 free iPad apps to connect children to a playful world of math learning. The apps and manipulatives work in tandem to develop a child’s number sense, counting skills, understanding of math operations, and more. The 3 free apps include Tiggly Chef, Tiggly Cardtoons, and Tiggly Addventure, and introduce children to a wonderful world of lovable characters that surprise and delight, as they learn essential early math abilities. Designed for children ages 3 and up.

Tip of the Week: Use Technology to Promote Social Interactions Between You and Your Child

Last month I had the privilege to speak in New Jersey at the 2014 Statewide Conference for Fathers of Children with Special Needs. I love the opportunity to speak with parents, and this conference allowed for lots of small group discussion that centered on the individual needs of each of the families represented there.

My focus was on utilizing technology, and one of the fathers said, “You know, I see what you’re saying about how I can use the iPad to increase social interaction, but my son won’t do that with me. When I try to work with him on the iPad, he just wants to go to Temple Run. He won’t play with it the same way he does with his teachers.” This question highlights the differences between the home environment and other environments. This is a common problem that parents face, not because they’re doing anything wrong, but because they have a different relationship with the child than the teachers do.

Go back to when you were in middle school. Imagine that you’re at home with your parents, you’re in your room engaged in one of your favorite activities, and your mother comes in and says, “Let’s watch a movie about how the solar system was created.” It is highly unlikely that you are going to leap at that opportunity. At home, you like to have your own space and free time, you have lots of choices for what you can do, and there are options that are more motivating than watching that movie.

Now think of the exact same situation, except you’re in your middle school science classroom and the teacher says, “Let’s watch a movie about how the solar system was created.” You never get to watch movies in that science class, you usually have to take notes and worry about when the teacher might call on you to answer a difficult question. It is much more likely that you are going to want to watch a movie in this scenario. Compared to the options you usually have during science class, watching this movie is highly motivating.

The same thing happens at home when you try to introduce an educational or challenging activity, and for learners with special needs, an activity we think of as fun may in fact be highly challenging. It’s important to acknowledge that parents are working with the child in a different environment so that we can create strategies that are feasible for creating success in the home. There are some things you can do to make it a bit easier on yourself when introducing iPad or tablet activities.

My biggest tip is to offer choices. For example, instead of saying “Let’s play on the iPad,” say, “Do you want to play Animal Race on the iPad or go outside and jump on the trampoline together?” This way, you’re labeling a specific app instead of providing free access and you’re creating an opportunity for interaction no matter what the child chooses.

My second tip is to utilize built-in accessibility tools. Use Guided Access to lock the app. This way, the choice really is to just play that app or select the other option presented. If the child selects the other option, that’s fine! You can let them know when they have free time on the iPad and when they only have the option of playing with a particular app. You can also limit the amount of time they play quite easily by going to your “Clock” app on the iPad or iPhone. Look at the menu of ringtones, scroll down to the bottom and select “Stop Playing.” Set the time, and when time is up, whatever app your child is playing with will automatically close. If you have a passcode set for your phone, then the passcode has to be typed in before access to the app is available again.

Some learners also respond very well to visual cues to signal when they have free time on the iPad versus structured time. This can be accomplished by changing the color of the iPad cover (my students know that the “orange iPad” is for structured time) or by placing a reusable sticker on the edge of the screen.

My final tip is to consider motivation. There are apps out there that I think are great, but I have to start with what my particular learner will be interested in and build from there. Find apps that have a characteristic that should appeal to your learner, such as specific cartoon characters, animals, or music.

Using these simple tips can provide some success in using technology to promote social interaction between you and your child, or between your child and his/her siblings and peers. If you’ve used other strategies successfully, please share them with us on Facebook.

Different Roads iOS Apps Now Feature Family Sharing

Apple has recently introduced a new Family Sharing feature, which allows up to 6 family members to browse and access each other’s iTunes, iBooks, and App Store purchases, as well as share photos, calendars, and locations with each other. We’re excited to announce that all of our Different Roads apps in the iTunes App Store have also begun to support this feature. Family Sharing also includes parental controls, enabling parents to approve purchases and downloads initiated by children first.

Different Roads to Learning Apps

Clean Up Cateogory Sorting AppClean-Up: Category Sorting  This highly-rated interactive program develops language, reasoning, and sorting and classifying skills in young learners. Players must “clean up” by putting 75 photographic images of toys, food, and clothing away in the correct shopping cart, refrigerator, or toy box. Each target is introduced by its label (“Where does the Apple go?”) in each round where players see 15 unique images. Correct responses receive visual and auditory reinforcement while incorrect answers are corrected by a visual prompt of the correct answer flashing. This app builds foundational sorting skills for students just developing their sorting and classifying skills. Available on iPhone and iPad.

Whats that Sound App

What’s that Sound? Learning to Listen and Identify Sounds  This interactive and easy-to-grasp game develops auditory discrimination and processing skills in young learners. Players will improve their skills by matching objects and their associated sounds. Simple auditory processing skills lay the foundation for learning how to read, speak and spell.
Available on iPhone and iPad.

 

What Goes Together App

What Goes Together?  This interactive program develops language, discrimination, and reasoning skills in young learners. Clear, colorful images of everyday objects promote an understanding of functions and the relationships between items that children encounter on a daily basis. With built-in reinforcement and error correction, this game provides a solid foundation in building critical expressive and receptive language skills. Available on iPhone and iPad.

Tell Me About It App

Tell Me About It!  Featured as Editor’s Choice on Best Apps for Kids, this universal app is specifically designed for children with autism and other speech and language delays. Based on the Applied Behavioral Analysis approach, this program mimics an actual one-on-one instructional session with a therapist. The app provides 15 categories of language targets, such as body parts, household items, clothing and food, and six levels of difficulty, which progressively become more difficult, from labelling to shared feature, function, and category. This app also features an easy-to-read report card, which provides tracking data for each child and an option to e-mail the report card results. Available on iPhone and iPad.

To discover all of our current apps and what Family Sharing can do for your family, visit our iTunes App Store page.

Using iPad to Learn and Communicate Workshop at NY Apple Store

Use of the iPad with students with autism is so prevalent, we thought those of you in New York City might want to know about this upcoming workshop at the Soho Apple Store on Using the iPad to Learn and Communicate on February 27, 2014. It’s for the early birds out there from 6:30 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.

Part discussion and part demonstration, this event will show you tools and software to enhance the communication experience. The panel includes Steve Blaustein, PhD and CCC-SLP of Proloquo2go; Jonathan Izak, founder of AutisMate; Kim Mack Rosenberg, president of NAA NY; and Ken Siri, author and board member of NAA NY. Moderated by Dara Berger, filmmaker and board member of NAA NY.

You can reserve a place at this free workshop by visiting http://www.apple.com/retail/soho/