There’s no doubt that having an iPhone and an iPad in our home has changed the way we do things around here. I have a much easier time updating the family calendar while at the same time adding events to my husband’s schedule. We have apps for managing our budget, checking out the weather so we’re prepared for the morning bus stop and tracking this, that and everything in between. Our school district even has an app that lets my kiddos look up the school lunch menu, no need to send home a paper menu that we always lost anyway!. Not to mention the way the iPhone and iPad have transformed homework for my younger children. If you just took Math facts and spelling words I could go on and on about how much more entertaining and effective homework has become for my kiddos. Now with all that being said, I believe that one of the most wonderful things that iDevices have done is broaden the horizons for children and adults with special needs. I am always thrilled to find a quality special needs app and I love seeing how parents and professionals can use tech to teach and enhance the lives of others.
Autism Learning Games: Camp Discovery is a free iPad app that was developed by the Center for Autism and Related Disorders, also known as CARD. The CARD professionals have taken their teaching curriculum and created a mobile educational tool that can be used in the home. The activities are developed for children with autism but younger children can also benefit from the skills being worked on. The app’s description suggests ages two and up. At the time of this review Camp Discovery features one section, Objects, where the activities center around matching, sorting and working with different objects. As they progress through the learning section children will receive audio and visual prompts (if they need more assistance) or congratulations and reinforcement (for correct answers). Before children begin the learning activity they are shown a group of objects ad asked to tap on the picture of the one that is “cool”. It took me a few rounds to realize this, but the chosen object becomes what is then shown on the screen when congratulations are due. One time through your child may be rewarded with colorful swirls for a job well done, another time it may be a pirate ship. It all depends on their personal preference that time through. As children reach certain stages in the app they are rewarded with mini-games that will provide a learning break. The games include things like popping balloons and tapping the screen to make fireworks explode.
I was pleased to see that Camp Discovery has included the ability to create multiple profiles, allowing parents to have separate profiles for their children. The learner profiles track how much progress children have made in the app, and in which areas, so it’s extremely helpful to be able to keep individual track of the players. At the time of this review the only content currently available in the app is “Objects”. The main screen for Camp Discovery is laid out like a camp map, with different areas to tap on and discover. The objects section is unlocked but the others are shown as unavailable. However tap on them and you’ll be able to see what’s coming soon, it looks like terrific content! Letters, actions, emotions, colors, shapes, locations and community helpers will all be included.
CARD has provided parents and educators with a valuable free resource. I’m looking forward to see their additional content as well as many more apps to come!