Today we have a guest reviewer from South Africa. Nikki Heyman is a speech & language therapist with over 22 years of experience. She also has a qualification in remedial education (cum laude), with a special interest in Autism Spectrum Disorders. She is married with 2 teenage children. Today she is sharing her expertise on two apps that help kids on social skills. Here is Nikki’s review:
Social skills are all the things that we should say and do when we interact with people. Difficulty with social skills is not limited to those on the Autism Spectrum, but is common in children with language learning difficulties.
Due to a number of factors, children with language difficulties may have difficulty understanding what another person says or means and in turn have difficulty responding appropriately.
This often results in
- Children getting into trouble within the classroom situation
- Difficulty forming and maintaining friendships and establishing good teacher–student relationships
- Depression, aggression and anxiety.
Social skills are not static and vary according to the context in which they occur. Consequently, teaching these skills is difficult.
Between the Lines and Social Quest are two apps targeting this difficult area with aplomb!
Between the Lines
This app uses real photographs, voices and short mini-video clips of a variety of social situations and expressions. The App is divided into three sections
The user hears a voice speak a sentence, e.g., “Oh wow, I can’t believe he’s here!” A question is then asked, “Who said it?” The user is shown a series of photographs. Depending upon the settings selected, there can be 2, 3 or 4 choices shown. The user touches the correct facial expression that matches the voice.
2. Body Language
Here kids learn to understand people’s body language. For example, a girl is sitting on a bench waiting for her friend. Her friend shows up and she exclaims “It’s almost 8:20! Hello!” Her body language suggests she is really mad. The question to the user is “What is she thinking?” The user’s task is to select the answer, among 2 to 4 choices, that matches the facial expression/body language.
A very short video shows an actor speaking a sentence that contains an idiomatic expression, e.g., “I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck.” The user is asked, “What does that mean?” Depending upon the settings selected, there can be 2, 3, or 4 choices shown. Text can be read to the user by touching the sentences.
Social Quest uses the theme of finding treasure in order to teach problem-solving and social skills. The students navigate various locations and earn “rewards” linked to social proficiency. For example, the student might be rewarded with a “Star Map”. The picture of the “Star Map Cloud” serves as a trigger to remind the child to ask questions in order to obtain information.
The app uses situations within the community, the home and the school. The user can choose to practice skills in as many situations as they wish.
Receptive and expressive skills are targeted and either a question or a statement appears on a piece of parchment.
When an “Expressive” social question, statement, or situation is shown, it is stated (aloud and/or written in text) along with a question/statement for the user to provide an answer to. Possible answers are not shown on the screen but must be communicated expressively by the user.
The therapist overseeing application play must decide whether the answer was appropriate (“Got It”), approximate (“Almost”), or inappropriate (“Missed”) by pressing the corresponding pot. A coin will be placed in the pot chosen (or tomato in the “Missed” pot), along with a fraction of the total correct/approximate/incorrect out of the total amount of situations presented for the user.
Comparison of the Two Apps:
Although these Apps have very different user interfaces, I have tried to compare them feature for feature in the table below. Click the table for a larger view of the table.
Social skills are critical for long term success and both these Apps target this “Hidden Curriculum” by providing a spring-board to further stimulate social language usage and allow the therapist/facilitator to broach this important and often neglected skill more easily.
Both apps are only available for iPAD. Between the Lines is $15.99 on App Store. Social Quest is $19.99 on App Store. Between the Lines has a second app with similar content to offer more questions for practice. It is at the same price as Between the Line #1.
If you would like to check it out or purchase it, please use the App Store button provided below. The cost is the same to you, but iGameMom gets a small percentage. Thanks for your support! Note: The button works for all countries.
Between the Lines Social Quest