Sunday, October 7, 2012

Apps for Social Success

Social Skills, such as eye contact, communication, interactive attention span, and flexibility are important skills for all children. For children with special needs, these subtle skills are crucial for their social success. Most parents of typically developing children take their child’s social skills development for granted. However, that ability to socialize and to create and sustain substantial interactive relationships with parents, siblings, peers, etc., can be a fundamental challenge for children on the autistic spectrum. While it is important to focus on all areas of a child’s development, I feel the first and most important skills to focus on is social development, the ability to socially interact. For oftentimes it is in this area that we are able to create the greatest possibility for change.

Children who have high functioning autism, Asperger’s and/or ADHD face many challenges socially. Although these children are likely mainstreamed with their typical peers, they often have a very difficult time creating and sustaining meaningful relationships with others around them. These children are often challenged by tasks such as recognizing others’ facial expressions, social cues, and most importantly, subtleties in body language that convey emotions and feelings.
 
The Social Express ™ was developed to address some of these developmental concerns. Created by a team at Social Express, this animated interactive software teaches children and young adults social and life skills. The app uses engaging scenarios to teach users how to think about and manage social situations so that they are better prepared to develop meaningful social relationships and succeed in life.
 
Many children on the autism spectrum tend to be visual learners, so The Social Express utilizes Hollywood-quality animation to present content to the users. These animations include a social story in which the user is asked to observe the characters in a specific situation as a problem arises. The user must then evaluate how one of the characters is feeling and decide upon a proper course of action to take to resolve the situation. Since not every situation has a black and white outcome, this app helps users to learn subtle nuances that are often hard for them to detect. The Social Express challenges the user to look at the entire social story and make the best choice.

The Social Express is one of the few social skills apps that my son enjoys using – so much so that he actually asks to use it. This app is a bit pricey but for good reason as there is no other social skills app like it. And a child being able to exhibit proper social skills and create meaningful relationships is priceless.
 

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