Ipad Memory Games

R. loves memory memory matching games on the ipad. Here’s a short list of her favorites.

Amazing Memory Match has an assortment of memory matching games. The opening screen reminds me of the old speak and say dials. You can choose a picture (different animals, foods, transportation…) and get a game with pastries or dinosaurs. When a match is made the app flashes a picture of the item matched along with the word and speaks the word aloud. I think this is great for vocabulary development. There is a free version available with a limited number of games.

Miss Spider’s Tea Party app has a read aloud story, coloring, puzzles and a memory matching game. She’s had this one for a while now and just gets more and more out of using it.

Timmy’s Kindergarten Adventure isn’t the best educational app. While it does allow you to pick until you choose the right answer, it advances to the next level too quickly. And compared to other apps the graphics are dull. The best part about this app is that you can buy in app toys with coins earned for answering questions correctly. No real money is involved and it is fairly easy to earn enough to buy everything. There is of course a matching game. It has animals and makes the animals sounds. A light bright style toy is fun too.

 

She has questions

For over a year now R. will occasionally take my finger and use it to point at something. She seems to be asking what the item is, so I tell her. It was random for a long time, she would do it once every couple of weeks.

A couple of months ago she started asking every day who particular muppets were on one of her favorite Sesame Street videos – A Celebration of Me Grover. Most of the muppets were just generic nameless characters. At about the same time she started to open Safari on the ipad and ask for Elmo. If you search for Elmo in Google and select images there are tons of pics of her favorite red monster.

It didn’t take long before she asked me to look up other Sesame Street characters and it became a new activity-her asking me to search for something and then looking at the pictures.

She’s also started watching some different shows-only on the ipad, but I’ll take it. She came to me with each show-– Backyardigans, Wonderpets–– nearly every single kiddie show and wanted me to name each character and look it up in Google.  I prompted her to use her own finger and say Who is it. This has become a favorite activity, so she picked it up quickly.

Now she’ll come up to me all the time, point at the picture and say Who is it. And then I have to look the character up in Google. I’ve learned all kind of names. I now know that Caillou’s mother’s name is Doris. How fascinating that she even wondered about that. She was upset that the boy in the cat in the hat has no name. And I’m amazed that she figured that out, I never even noticed.

She has been very into Sid the Science Kid, and one of his phrases is I have a question. R. repeats this, sometimes out of context but often she’ll walk up to me and say either I have a question or just question. And then she will ask a question!

An example of an exchange:

She walks up to me and says Question.

Me: Oh you have a question? What’s your question?

She tugs on my hand and says Come.

I remove my hand from hers (I’m working on trying to remove her touching me from her communication.) and say OK, I’ll come with you. I follow her to the stairs where she has a bunch of stuffed animals lined up.

She points at one and says Who this?

I say That’s a cow.

She walks away, retrieves the ipad, opens up Safari and points at the Google search window and says That’s a cow.

I search for cow pictures for her to look at.

The teacher suggested that I have her type in her search requests, even hand over hand. Sometimes she’s impatient, but after weeks of doing this it seems like she can spell some of her favorite searches on her own, I’m just sort of holding her arm for moral support.

 

 

Summer fun

Stroller-less at Stern Grove

 

Obviously I haven’t posted in a while. I’ll confess that I’ve been taking a break from autism. Not from R., and I’m not ignoring any challenges or anything. It’s just after a year of all the kindergarten research and visits, and all the meetings and so forth I just needed to think about something else for a while- having fun with my daughter.

Fun at the Arboretum.

Preschool came to an end. I’m not sure she understands that, it was bittersweet to say good-bye to the teacher she has loved for over two years.  She had an opportunity to visit her new kindergarten class. (I’ll call it a kindergarten class, but it is technically K-2). We went at the end of the day for their free play and circle time. She wasn’t too thrilled at first, she kept yelling home. I didn’t know she even knew that word. But once she got in the classroom she seemed to feel comfortable sitting in the circle time area – it was set up similarly to her classroom. She actually participated a bit.

She finally moved to a big bed. Yes she has been sleeping in a crib all this time. Every time I went to move it she would get upset. So I made the switch while she was at school and it has been fine. She loves her new bed. And I saved the crib mattress for jumping, so it is a win-win situation.

We have not used the stroller for months now. (Other than the long walk to the zoo). It used to be we could not go anywhere without it or letting her sit in a shopping cart. Now she just loves to walk around the grocery store and even noisy Costco. I swear she is the happiest person in the entire place. She grins from ear to ear, and practically prances through the store.  I remember in the baby books they would tell you to take your baby to the grocery store and label everything. Well, here we are at age five spending five minutes admiring and labeling corn.  I’m not complaining. I’m actually grateful to get to go through this period with her.

We got her hair cut very short- a pixie cut. She just loves her short hair. She even rubs her head on us now. She never did that before.

Sitting at McDonalds - I still can't believe she does this.

Why are there no donuts?

R. is going through her first noisy phase that doesn’t involve crying.  Her mouth is forming words just about from the minute she gets up until she falls asleep.  I don’t understand a lot of what she is saying, especially when she is playing on her own.  But it has the quality of sentences and there are words there.

When she asks for something she will repeat it over and over again. I imagine this might get annoying eventually, but I have to say I enjoy every word. She has been singing for longer than she has been talking, but now she can sing an entire song, both on her own and along with the CD or television.

The same child who was hitting us when we said no just a few months ago is talking back.  That’s right, when we say no bubbles she’ll say yes bubbles.

She strung together her first sentence (rather than using a complete phrase she has been taught).  She said And now chocolate and pointed to the cookies.

Before Christmas R. caught me with a stuffed Big Bird on my computer screen and ever since she demands to see it again. You know how Amazon makes suggestions based on what you are viewing? Well she figured that out and after she asks to see Big Bird she’ll ask for all the other characters.

She used to do this by just saying the name of the character and pointing if I didn’t do it fast enough.  She started saying Look at this Elmo, or Look at this Zoe followed by pointing.

She is saying yuck and ewwww to foods she doesn’t like. She says cold when she is cold and she says smell when she smells something unusual.

I feel like we are seeing the beginning of her asking questions.  She takes my finger and points to things that she wants to know what they are. It is usually Sesame Street characters, but it has been other objects too. I think I’m going to have to name the guys in Hoot’s band, she’s not happy I don’t know the real name for each of them.

She’s actually asked why a few times.  I’m never sure if that is really what I’m hearing, but it sure seems like it.  The last time she was asking for a donut and I told her we did not have any and she said why?  I didn’t respond and she tugged on me to make sure I was paying attention to her and she said it again.

February already?

It seemed like holidays, a stomach bug and a cold just wiped out January.  So here we are in February.

R.’s hitting has disappeared.  She is actually voicing her displeasure.  Her most common response is to say thank you and push away with one hand.  I’m sure she means no thank you, because occasionally I’ll hear a no.  She is also saying wait, stop, all done and now.  There is often still crying and screaming involved, but the words are her first response.

She also got an opportunity to spend time in the kindergarten class she has been escaping the cafeteria to get into.  Her PreK teacher made arrangements with the kindergarten teacher (all special ed) to have her students go into the kindergarten classroom for 40 minutes once a month so she can meet with the aides.  I guess this is common in the elementary grades.

R. just loved the classroom and had a good time.  Since her visit, she has not been trying to escape the cafeteria to run there.   They are going to do this once a month.  And if R. is placed in that kindergarten she will have the opportunity to go into the class regularly.

The many gifts of the ipad

There are so many things that R. has learned that can at least be partially attributed to the ipad.

She started to point purposefully after she learned to use it.  I’m sure the ipad is not the sole reason, but it seems to have helped.

Her receptive language has increased and it seems like she is picking up words (especially labels) faster and with less trouble generalizing.   I know that school and the techniques the ABA therapists are using deserve the most credit.  But I also know that the ipad is helping to reinforce these words -pun intended.

I think it also has helped with her auditory processing, she is pronouncing some words better.  I suspect it is because of apps like Bob Books, where she can hear the phonetic letter sound as many times as she wants.  She is touching the letter, seeing it and hearing a sound.

I have posted about how her youtube video selections seem to mirror what is happening in her life.   She will finish with her ABA session where they were working on the prepositions on top and under and go to youtube on the ipad and find Sesame Street videos that are teaching the same concepts.

She has stopped playing with her spit on the window (big hooray for that one!).  I really think it is because she can get that same sensation from the ipad.

She is writing letters, numbers and shapes.  She asks me to show her how to draw things -shapes and letters.   Of course they do this in school, and I give her teacher plenty of credit for helping to teach her these skills.  But I think that the ipad helped her focus in a way she could not before, and those positive experiences give her confidence and motivation.

She doesn’t have to to it all the time, but she will share the ipad with a friend, and even negotiate turn taking.   I never thought about the ipad as something that she could do with a peer, silly me.  They seem to do it themselves quite naturally.

 

Looking to youtube for inspiration

R. really likes to watch videos on youtube on the ipad.   She can pick videos from her history, the favorites or subscriptions. (I subscribed to Sesame Street.)  She also seems to remember how to find particular videos by looking at the choices that come up when a video is chosen.  It looks like she is just watching a video for a second and then going on to another one, but it usually means she is looking for something.

When she started summer school at a different school she kept watching this video about riding the bus 40 blocks from home.   When we started potty training she was finding all these Elmo potty videos.  She does tend to like to watch a video over and over, not for an hour, but five or six times.

I’ve been trying to see how I can work with her interest in these videos.  The obvious way is to sing the songs.  She does like this, and will sing along and request that I sing them now.  She also likes it when I change the words and add her name.  She never seemed to notice before.

R. likes counting videos, for a while she was watching ones with Count and his counting organ.   I started using her Count doll to count things and this is now a regular game.  Mostly she wants me to count the pieces of her play birthday cake.  I have to hold up the Count doll and have him count and touch each piece, and I can’t forget the ah ah ah at the end either.   She is starting to do it herself, so we can take turns.

Another video she watches often is an old Sesame Street cartoon – Number 9 martian cutie.   The artwork is simple enough I actually managed to draw it and boy was R. impressed.    She asks me to draw it over and over.  I will only draw one part at a time, she has to tell me to continue.  She usually taps me and then I prompt the word. Since the martian has nine hairs, eyes and other parts we are closing dozens of circles every time I draw one.  She also likes it when I hold her hand and draw it with her.   I’ve been backing off and getting her to at least draw the hair and arms (just lines) with just a prompt at her elbow.  She is so proud of herself.

If that crafting gene I’ve been waiting for all my life ever kicks in, maybe I can think of some way to make the martian in 3D with glue and stuff.

Her favorite dvd right now is Elmo’s Christmas Countdown.  She’s been watching this video from that dvd of two actors from the Soprano’s playing Bert and Ernie.   I tried acting out the videos with her Bert and Ernie dolls, but she was a little too entertained by sticking things in my ear.  I don’t think I should encourage that.

I found a stuffed gingerbread man and woman a relative gave her a while back, so I’ve been playing you’ve got a gingerbread man on your (or my) head.  It is usually good for some laughs, but it doesn’t keep her engaged as long as drawing martians.

I think her favorite part is when they yell gingerbread man, because I hear her saying that and she loves it when I say it.    I dug out some Christmas books and we look through them and yell gingerbread man when we find one.   I also printed out gingerbread men from the web and placed them around the house.  She doesn’t quite get the idea of hunting for them, but she enjoys finding them and yelling gingerbread man with me.   I should try drawing them with her, but I think I’d need a stencil or something.

Any easy crafty suggestions are welcome.

Only Say Hi if You Mean It

ABA has been working on some sort of greeting program since R. started therapy over two years ago.  The ABA provider during EI tried different techniques.  They taught R. to do a high five and used that as a greeting for a while.  It did not transform into a natural wave as they were hoping, but it did help with imitation programs later and it is a social thing to do with someone.

Then they took photos of each therapist and enlarged them so they were a little larger than the size of an adult head.  They cut them out and laminated them and attached them to large popsicle sticks.   I guess the idea was that they would hold one up and she would wave at it.  It did not work, but she loved all the faces.  She would gather them all up and arrange them in a circle around  herself.   It was funny, all the therapists were uninhibited in their play and interactions with R., but those faces on sticks made them all uncomfortable.

By the time she started preschool she would say bye to the therapists, but only when they were at the door.  It was like they had to really mean it.  Our current ABA providers did not put any emphasis on a greeting program at first.  At our last team meeting with the teacher before summer started, everyone seemed to say that she would say hi or bye when someone said it to her.    The ABA supervisor said they would do an actual greetings program.  I told them about our previous experiences, and suggested they keep it natural.

At first they only ran the program when a second therapist or the supervisor or behaviorist was there.  The second person would go outside R.’s door, knock and enter and R. is supposed to say hi.  She did this fairly well, although after the second time she seemed to lose interest.

About a month ago they started doing the program with just one therapist, but not every day.   It seemed like it was going okay.  Sometimes R. would play along and say bye, see you later when they walked out, making into a game.   But in the last week they have been doing it every day.  I think they are trying to master it out.  And for some reason she will not say hi consistently.  I think it is because it does not feel natural.  Why should she say hi to someone who has been sitting with her for the past hour?

The supervisor went to observe the classroom this week.  R. walked up to her and said hi.

Words, they are coming

R. is having her first real language explosion.  This is the first time in her whole life I feel like I can’t quite keep track of all the new things she is saying.   Her language is still a far cry from a typical four year old, but for us it is amazing and wonderful.

Mostly she is speaking in 1-2 words requesting (manding) things.  She will spontaneously say what she wants, and if we don’t respond right away she will repeat herself over and over again, and then point at the item and give me a determined look.  She is doing a lot less hand leading, it is like she realized she can get us to do what she wants with her other methods.

It is so interesting to me, I’ve been working for years now on increasing the exchanges (circles of communication) between R. and I.   For so long it was mostly gestures and facial expressions that we were exchanging, I guess I thought that when talking was the main method of communicating, it would decrease the number of circles of communication- because talking is so much more efficient, and R. is not able to really converse yet.   But I’m finding that while it is certainly more efficient to have R. talk to me, we are actually closing way more circles of communication during our exchanges.  She looks at me to see if I am paying attention when she speaks, she keeps looking back at me to see if I respond.

She is also doing a lot more labeling, she hardly did that at all before.  It seems like anytime she sees something she recognizes she labels it and seems so pleased with herself.   We were at the playground and some adults were riding bikes just outside the fence.  She said bicycle, bicycle clear as could be and ran to follow them.

R. does not seem to have the same problems with over generalizing that she did a few months ago.  I think the behaviorist was correct to say that increasing R.’s receptive language would help her generalizing abilities.   Sometimes she comes up with the wrong word for something, but it is different, I can usually get her to say the right word with repetition.  But I do have to figure out what she means first.  She was asking for peacock, so I showed her pictures.   Later, I gave her some peas to eat (she likes to eat them frozen out of the bag) and she got all excited saying peacock peacock.   I only had to model the word pea a few times until she started asking for pea instead of peacock.  I also don’t think she exactly understand what it means when someone says ow.  She bopped me on the head with a toy, and then rubbed my head and said ow R.

A Behavior plan for the ipad

R. is still requesting the ipad, by saying ipad when it is out of sight.  This skill seems to be generalizing, because she is starting to tell me what she wants for other things when she grabs my hand, as opposed to waiting to say it until she leads me to it.

We’re running into some behavior issues regarding the ipad.  I know we need to be consistent so we don’t create a monster.

Issue 1:   She wants all ipad all the time

She is getting kind of obsessed with it, she demands it as soon as she gets up and throughout the day.  I know that she gets this way, fixated on something new and then the novelty wears off.  So I am humoring her a bit, and letting her use it a bit more than I would like.

Set limits for use – times of day and length of use session
I don’t want to go so far as to set a schedule, but I think having specific times of day that we use the ipad, will help with setting limits.   I also make sure she doesn’t spend hours at a time using it.

Give warning with a specific cue for end of ipad time. Offer transitioning help – music on ipad, new activity.
I’ve been giving her warnings, telling her when whatever she is doing is finished we are all done with ipad.   She usually protests, so I will turn on Pandora and tell her only music on the ipad, and I’ll put it out of reach.  It really is best if I have another activity planned and ready, even just coloring or going out.

Be consistent and firm and acknowledge but do not react to her emotional outbursts.
When I’ve decided it is a “no ipad time” I have to make sure not to give in to her pleading. She has never verbally begged like this before, and it is so hard to say no.   She will cry sometimes and get very angry.   At first I was not sure how to react, and she totally picks up on this.  She’ll scream louder once she senses my indecision.  If I am firm and consistent, she gets over it a lot quicker.

Issue 2:   She wants to pick her own apps and they are usually a video or an app she gets stimmy with.

She is not allowed total control of the ipad.  She should say all done when finished with an activity.
We have to totally take charge of the ipad the majority of the time.  We select which apps she plays with, and insist she do at least a part of the activity.   She’ll press the button to exit the app, I’ll stop her until she completes the activity, and then I’ll get her to say All done before going on to something else.

Use preferred activities as a reward.  Tell her first this and then that.
It is usually obvious what she would like to select, so I’ll tell her first do a puzzle and then you can play with the fish pond.   When she spends a long time doing “educational apps”, I’ll let her play around and do what ever she wants for a little while, even it seems stimmy.

Don’t treat the ipad like a drilling machine.  Explore all the different possibilities.
I do try to find things to do that match her mood.  After a day at school and then therapy, she doesn’t always want to write letters in iwrite or anything like that.  But I can usually find something that requires some engagement and interaction on her part, even looking at her photo album, and having me name her classmates and other people in the pics.

Allow her some free time.
We let her do what she likes with the ipad for a little while before dinner.

Issue 3: She wants to use my finger instead of her own to operate the ipad. She has a short attention span at times.

I think these two issues are related, because the more successful she is with an activity, the longer she wants to do it.

Use the easiest apps.
Some apps require less precision than others.  The puzzle pieces go into place if you are in the general vicinity, even iwrite is somewhat forgiving about the lines.   We need to use the easiest apps when prompting her to use her own finger.

Start by letting her use the method she is comfortable with and then physically prompt her to use her own finger.
It seems to go easiest if I allow her to use my finger a couple of times and then say R. do and I’ll physically take her finger and make her do it.   Sometimes she argues and wrestles her hand away, but if I’m insistent she will comply.  I usually have to hold her finger a couple of times, and then I can back off to just putting my hand on her arm.  With some apps she’ll usually go on for a while on her own, but with others she’ll do it on her own for a few times and then I have to go back to letting her use my finger and start over again.  When she can do an activity all on her own she gets so excited and pleased with herself, and she wants to continue doing it.

Have her ask for use of someone’s finger.
I’m going to prompt her to say help, each time she wants to use my finger.  I hope that will eventually help her realize that use of someone else’s finger is not automatic.