Apps That Help Teach Social Perspective Illustrative apps can augment established approaches to helping children on the spectrum understand the social world. App-titude
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App-titude  |   April 01, 2016
Apps That Help Teach Social Perspective
Author Notes
  • Sean Sweeney, MS, MEd, CCC-SLP, is an SLP and technology specialist working in private practice at the Ely Center in Newton, Mass., and consultant to local and national organizations on technology integration in speech and language interventions. His blog, SpeechTechie, looks at technology “through a language lens.” sean@speechtechie.com
    Sean Sweeney, MS, MEd, CCC-SLP, is an SLP and technology specialist working in private practice at the Ely Center in Newton, Mass., and consultant to local and national organizations on technology integration in speech and language interventions. His blog, SpeechTechie, looks at technology “through a language lens.” sean@speechtechie.com×
Article Information
Telepractice & Computer-Based Approaches / App-titude
App-titude   |   April 01, 2016
Apps That Help Teach Social Perspective
The ASHA Leader, April 2016, Vol. 21, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.APP.21042016.np
The ASHA Leader, April 2016, Vol. 21, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.APP.21042016.np
When you work on social skills with clients on the autism spectrum, it can help to play to their strengths—such as systematic thinking and visual processing.
With their interactive, visual appeal, apps can play a big role in making this happen. But before going into the apps, let’s take a look at how they can apply two approaches to teaching social cognition.
With The Incredible 5-Point Scale, developed by autism specialist Kari Dunn Buron, clients apply rules to expand their understanding of social nuances and perspectives. The approach breaks social concepts into five scaled parts that target understanding of social situations. It provides examples in each part of the scale. The scales can be developed for everything from voice volume to size of problems, as well as for abstract concepts such as fairness.
Another approach that expands clients’ narratives, if/then thinking and perspective-taking is Comic Strip Conversations, developed by Carol Gray. Comic Strip Conversations visualize social situations with simple sketches involving stick figures, situational elements, word and thought balloons, and color coding for different emotions and verbal behaviors. A comic strip can be developed to exemplify a five-point scale or for reviewing or previewing a relevant social situation.
Both approaches can also be used to develop a social narrative, considered an evidence-based practice in working with clients with autism. But what do they have to do with technology? Apps can allow for easy use of chart creation for five-point scales and use of color-coding, sketching and dynamic visual examples in both approaches. Check out these ways you can use apps to apply these approaches with your clients.
Chart it
Five-point scales are easy to create, modify (for creation of new scales) and share with the use of presentation tools available on mobile devices. Keynote (free for newer iOS devices, otherwise $9.99) and PowerPoint (free for iOS and Android but requiring a Microsoft 365 subscription) allow you to create charts to form the structure of a scale, format text for color-coding, and insert columns for additional aspects of the scale. For example, developing a problem scale can be enhanced with columns describing attributes of the problem size or expected reactions to a problem. Creating scales digitally allows you to duplicate slides to create additional scales, access them at any time from your device for teachable moments, and share easily with caregivers and other service providers. Pic Collage (free for iOS and Android) is also a great tool for making 5-Point Scales and adding photo examples.
Sketch it
The sketching involved with Comic Strip Conversations is made at once easier, more engaging and colorful (no array of markers needed!), and sharable with apps such as Doodle Buddy (free for iOS) or Drawing Desk (free for Android). To make a conversation stretching across several pages, check out Paper (free for iOS), a sketching journal that also incorporates subtle effects to make your sketches look neater. All these apps allow you to add text for captioning, scripting and illuminating perspectives, as well as photos for additional context. For example, you can sketch over photo of an important location in your client’s daily life.
Show it
You can also use animation and video apps to demonstrate examples of social success and social no-nos. My clients enjoy creating simple animations with Plotagon (free for iOS): Movies are constructed easily by selecting settings and characters, typing in a script, and choosing emotional reactions. Video modeling, an intervention with a strong evidence base, has also become much easier. Check out iMovie (free for newer iOS devices, otherwise $4.99) or Andromedia (free for Android), which provide easy ways to shoot and edit video role-plays or modeling examples.
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April 2016
Volume 21, Issue 4