Hello again – I’ve met with Kevin for the second time, and am prepared to share what happened. If you have not read Session #1, I would recommend that you do so now.
When I went to Kevin’s house, with some new apps on my computer that I wanted to load onto his iPhone, his parents wanted to first show me how he’d done on the first set of applications from Session #1. One of his favorites, My First Words: Animals, (link goes to a review), was the first one he showed me. When I had first given him the application, he was unsure what to do, and I had to tell him to drag the letters to the boxes to make the word, which happened to be a random three-letter animal. Now, after having some time with the app, he was putting the letters into words much faster than I could. More impressive than that – he was saying the word along with the program and making the animal sounds. Recall that Kevin is not very verbal – he can say some things, but I’ve really never heard him make a complete sentence. This application, meant to teach kids to spell, was also teaching Kevin to speak!
Soon, I loaded the new apps onto the iPhone, and we got started. The first application I had him try was Speak It!, (link goes to review), a text to speech app. Of course, Kevin didn’t know what to do with it at first. After I showed him how to pull up the keyboard and how to delete his mistakes, he still was unsure, and I was worried that he wouldn’t be able to figure this out, and that he wasn’t ready for a text to speech iPhone app. Then, his dad, confident in Kevin’s abilities, told him to type his favorite words – “ice cream.” To my surprise, Kevin slowly – but surely – began typing ice cream! Of course, his fingers weren’t used to using the keyboard, so he made plenty of mistakes, but he knew what he was doing, and deleted his spelling errors. We all clapped when he made the program say, “ice cream.” Soon, this led to “i want ice cream,” and I was sure that the next time I came, he would be typing away on it.
The next new app that I showed Kevin was an app called Kids Math Ace, (link goes to iTunes, since I haven’t reviewed it. I give it both thumbs up from my experience with Kevin, though.) This application, which focuses on basic addition and subtraction, was rather difficult for Kevin at first. He knew the addition, and the subtraction confused him, but after picking the wrong answer a couple of times on the subtraction problems, he figured it out. Note: Kevin did not like the fact that the app had feedback, so if you’re child doesn’t take negative feedback very well, don’t buy the Kids Math Ace app.
Finally, I showed Kevin one of my favorite apps – Balloonimals! Balloonimals lets you blow into the speaker of the iPhone to blow up the balloon, shake the phone to make the balloonimal, and then touch the balloonimal to make it interact with you. Kevin didn’t quite understand that you could just blow into the speaker, and kept putting the entire bottom of the iPhone into his mouth and blowing. (Haha!) Also, he was afraid that he would break the iPhone if he shook it too vigorously, which I’m sure is not an inhibition that most children with autism have. He was having fun with Balloonimals, and it was a great way to end the night.
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