The app is designed to help kiddos, primarily those on the spectrum, navigate social situations that they would encounter in everyday life. The videos are made with “real” people meaning the kids look like kids in terms of dress and age, the adults look like adults you might bump into while running errands and the settings are mostly true and not stylized sets. While the videos are not the slick presentation kiddos have come to expect after hours in front of the Disney channel, they were good quality–clear visuals and audio–and had a charming homespun feel to them.
The full version of the app covers: Preschool Playtime (Preschool-1st grade), My School Day (elementary grades), School Rules (middle-high school grades) and My Community (elementary-high school ages). Each section contains a variety of settings/scenarios and it looks as though additional scenes will be added over time.
When you enter the app, you are prompted to choose a user or enter a new user. This was quick and easy to do, however my version didn’t seem to save which modules or portions you had completed, nor did it save scores, so I was a bit puzzled as to the need for entering users. I’m hopeful that it indicates future versions will include both of these options since it would greatly enhance the functionality for therapists.
Next, select which module you’d like to visit. Preschool Playtime offers “Playground” or “Preschool” scenes and included situations involving swings, slides, classroom, etc.
My School Day offers “Classroom,” “Transition Time,” “Lunch Time,” “Table Talk,” “Jungle Gym,” and “Laughing.”
The “Laughing” section covered several bullying situations (laughing AT someone) as well as telling jokes (laughing WITH someone). While I appreciate addressing this nuance, I wished these two very important ideas each had their own section.
School Rules! currently offers sections on “Classroom Assignments” and “Hanging Out.” I liked that there were scenarios both monitored and unmonitored by adults which is much more true to life. I hope they’ll be expanding the sections in this module soon!
The final module, My Community, offers scenes from a “Friend’s House” and “Restaurant” and looks like there is room to expand into scenes from a medical clinic, store and movie theater.
You will see a short video clip and then be asked a follow-up question on “expected” or “unexpected” behavior. Kudos to the developer for using common therapeutic terms! You are then offered a choice of two to four answers depending on the module level. (The pictures above refer to two different clips/sections). Select the correct one and see a little cartoon creature dance; select the incorrect one and you will hear a buzzer and be prompted with the original question/answer choices. For the preschool questions, it wasn’t as much of an issue, but I would have preferred that the selected incorrect answer disappear as a choice on subsequent trials. This was a particular issue in other modules in which 3-4 answers were offered.
There were several good video clips with typical scenes from playground activities to video games at a friend’s house. I particularly liked the questions that prompted you to look for more than one social cue or behavior.
Throughout the questions, there is an option to “replay” the video clip which I thought was useful especially during some modules which might have several questions that pertain to the same clip. During the video, you have an opportunity to pause which allows for more discussion and specific labeling/identification of social cues. At the top of the screen, it will show you where you are in the quiz (ex. “Question 1 of 12”), and the completion, it will show you the score as a ratio (ex. 9/10 correct). Unfortunately, there is no option to skip a question. This came up for me several times when I thought the scene didn’t pertain to a student or I needed to more through the section more quickly (or to get back to where I left off). I’d love to see this option in the future.
Utility in the therapy setting will vary dramatically depending on the kiddos you see. Many children on the spectrum might struggle to generalize these concepts and require video from their specific classroom/lunchroom/etc. to integrate these skills (though the practicality of the clinician making individual videos is pretty low…) However, those with generalization skills, whether they fit into an autism diagnosis or not, might benefit dramatically from the opportunity to slow down a communicative exchange and dissect behaviors.
I received two copies of this app to use for review, but all opinions expressed are my own. This review refers to version 1.1 currently available in the iTunes app store for $14.99. It was reviewed using an iPad.