Apps Helping Kids on Social Skills

Between the Lines

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

1. Listening

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. Between the lines app - listen

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. Between the lines app - body language

3. Expressions

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. Between the lines app - expression

Social Quest 

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. Social Quest Reward - App comparison

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. Social Quest Express - App Comparison

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.

Between the Lines and Social Quest Comparison

Conclusions:

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 Between the Lines    Social Quest Social Quest

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Rivka January 11, 2013 at 6:37 pm

Fascinating tool. I will share this information with a friend who is in the field of special education. Especially as the iPad is a useful ‘machine’ within her classroom.

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iGameMom January 11, 2013 at 11:20 pm

Thanks for sharing! It is amazing what the new technology can help the learning process.

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Vicki January 9, 2013 at 10:55 am

This is great! More reviews of apps for kids with special needs, please! (If possible, some inexpensive ones, as many parents of special needs kids are strapped for cash). Thank you!!

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Nikki Heyman January 9, 2013 at 4:24 pm

Hi Vicki
What kind of apps are you looking for? How old is your child? Perhaps I can recommend some.

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Vicki January 9, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Oh hi Nikki, thank you. My son has Down syndrome and is 4. We don’t have a tablet PC yet but lots of parents I know do and are always looking for inexpensive apps to teach letters, sight words and numbers and other simple concepts like object function. Apps for kids 5 and under would be great to start! But there is an audience for older-kid apps too.

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Nikki Heyman January 10, 2013 at 1:31 am

This App has just gone free and looks great
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/my-story-creator/id542764811?mt=8
I will be doing a post next week on my site http://www.talkingtalk.co.za on some of my favorite apps for teaching reading skills and following up with one on early language skills. Have a look at it – I have tried to target the cheaper ones.

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iGameMom January 10, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Thanks Nikki for recommending app. I am downloading now. Sounds like it can go with Toontastic Jr. – the one I just reviewed today.

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iGameMom January 9, 2013 at 5:57 pm

Thanks for the note! There are a lot apps that are not designed specifically for special need kids, but with all the features they can offer, such as interactive response, they opened up a lot more opportunities for them. I am glad to see Nikki is offering to help. You can visit her site for some ideas. Or you can also check out my recommendations for toddler and preschoolers HERE. Just looking through the list quickly, I think Felt board might be good one, they offer open ended play, and parents can use it teaching letters and numbers. Here is my recommendation for math apps for preschool kids, Number Rack is free, and Bug Games is only $0.99. Like I said, although they are not specifically designed for special need kids, given the new and different interfaces, it might just work.

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Vicki January 9, 2013 at 9:44 pm

Thank you for these suggestions! I have already referred people to your blog and the preschool-age sections; I love what you do. You are right in that apps need not be designed especially for kids with different needs to be useful for them.

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iGameMom January 10, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Thanks for referring your friends over! If you or your friends are trying to find any particular apps, feel free to send a note, or email. I will do my best to help.

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Nikki Heyman January 8, 2013 at 8:14 am

I love how both these Apps allow the introduction of the “difficult to talk about” things without being confrontational. Between the Lines also has an Advanced Level.

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iGameMom January 9, 2013 at 5:15 pm

Thanks Nikki for a wonderful review! Kids are sensitive, these apps make them comfortable while improving the skills. I also noticed a third app for Between the Lines. Seems it is for older kids and adults. Is it right?

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Nikki Heyman January 10, 2013 at 1:28 am

Yes – Between the Lines has level 1,2, and Advanced. There is not much of a difference in terms of difficulty level between the levels. The developer has split them primarily because of the size of the App. http://talkingtalk.co.za/between-the-lines-app-review/

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iGameMom January 10, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Good to know. Thanks Nikki.

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