An app called MySocius is helping parents teach their child with autism how to ask for an object or activity.
Using the app, the parent takes pictures of the child’s favorite activities and objects. Activities could include playing outdoors or eating and objects can be foods or toys.
Once the gallery has enough pictures, the parent then restricts access to a particular activity or object. MySocius then helps the parent understand how to prompt the child to ask for it. The idea behind this is that the child sees pictures that are familiar to him or her.
MySocius was developed by Dr. Keith Allen, professor of pediatrics at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and a child psychologist at the university’s Munroe-Meyer Institute. The institute is a federally designated University Center of Excellence for Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Service (UCEDD) and provides services and support for persons with genetic disorders and developmental disabilities.
“We wanted to help parents do more to help their children learn basic communication skills,” explains Dr. Allen. “We wanted to develop something that could assist parents right in their homes, and we wanted something that was supported by research. Naturalistic teaching that provides pictures of objects and prompts for parents fit all of these requirements.”
Naturalistic teaching seeks to create teaching sessions with a child using objects or activities that are of high interest to him or her. This accomplishes three things:
- Lessen resistance to interacting and learning
- Improve focus
- Teach child to apply specific behavior to other situations and settings
Dr. Allen encourages not only parents to use this but teachers, therapists, speech language pathologists and other professionals who deal with the complexities of working with children who have autism spectrum disorders.
MySocius is available for the iPad and iPhone for $24.99, with an Android version on the way.