Developer: Mobile Education Store LLC
Price: $19.99 **Special Deal $3.99 January 16, 2014 ONLY
Category: Behavioral and Social Story Apps
Teach Children With Autism The Art of Conversation
Truman Capote once said, “A conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue. That’s why there are so few good conversations.” Having purposeful, effective conversation is something everyone has to practice. It’s a talent that might not come naturally for everyone, particularly for youth and teenagers on the autism spectrum. But, thanks to Mobile Education Store, the ConversationBuilderTeen app helps teenagers perfect the art of conversation, one topic at a time.
Following the award-winning app, Conversation Builder, a virtual conversation simulator, Conversation Builder Teen specifically helps teens ages 10-17 practice and perfect conversation. Topics range from clothes and fashion to relationships to how to handle bullying. It uses simulated exchanges letting students understand when to introduce themselves, when to change the topic, and when to recognize if someone is being sarcastic or bullying them or someone else.
The home page lists topics like summer, entertainment, sports, sarcasm, and bullying. One thing to note when using the app, make sure your iPad is in the vertical, upright position. If it is in the horizontal position, you will not see the buttons at the bottom of the page.
Tappable areas are:
- Manage Users where you can add or delete users.
- Conversation Type where you can choose the number of players. If you choose 2-3 players, this is a simulated pre-set conversation between the student and two other simulated students. If you choose group, this allows users to pass the iPad around and create your own group conversations.
- Reset Played Conversations to erase saved conversations and reset them.
- Modules where you can randomly play through topics or choose a topic at a time.
Teens have the opportunity to either start or continue a conversation about one of the topics. Some communication will be with individuals and some with groups.
What I like about this app is that it includes images of the person you are talking with. This helps visual learners become aware of how facial expressions and body language affect their friend’s communication. It also helps them pick up auditory cues, such as change in voice tone or awkward silences. This is especially important during conversations about sarcasm and bullying.
A student can learn how to detect tones, facial expressions, body language, and certain words to help them figure out if someone is being sarcastic or just not being kind to them.
Students can also click an Info button to find out details about the conversation, which is helpful for them to understand how it should go. Also, if a student selects the wrong answer, helpful guidelines are given so the student can figure out the correct answer.
Saving Conversations and Using History
During the simulated conversations, students record their own voice and can play back the conversation in its entirety between themselves and the simulated app. Once a student has mastered a conversation by choosing the correct choices, students can save the entire communication for future reference. They can even upload images of themselves and their friends to make the situations more realistic!
A History button allows the students to view the history at the top of the page. Their communication is highlighted in green.
Another great feature allows students to email, play the saved conversation, or delete it.
I love that parents are in control of the content! Parents can enable or disable Parental Controls. Topics such as bullying and sarcasm have references to alcohol, drugs, smoking, and other topics that may not be appropriate for younger users. To unlock these conversations, parents must use their password. I really liked the video tutorial that walks users through each step for using the app, which is very helpful for new users.
To Sum It Up….
Teens with autism who find socializing intimidating will gain confidence using this app. It guides them through the difficult topics and shows them how to communicate, how others communicate, and especially, how to stand up for themselves if a situation ever presented itself. This app is sure to give teens on the spectrum support to master the art of conversation and, in turn, learn how better to communicate and socialize with their peers.