Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The (Pet) Doctor Is In!


It's been a while since I last did a post on apps here.  I think it might have to do with the fact that I am not so into change and I keep using the same ones.  Cause let's be honest, if it isn't broken, why fix it? Sounds crazy, but that is how I feel about a good app.  If you want to read about some of my favorite apps, you can read this post from this past December or this one from last September.

I just replaced my cracked iPad and with that came a cleansing of sorts.  You know those Facebook status updates that talks about cleaning out their friend list?  Well, I did that with my apps.  I am carefully picking and choosing which ones to put on my new iPad and spending some time trying to find new apps that will motivate the kids I work with.

I feel like it is my duty to share good apps when I find them.  Especially when said apps will work on improving a variety of occupational and speech and language goals.  I do realize that the use of an iPad during therapy isn't for everyone but I have found that when used in conjunction with more hands on kind of therapeutic modalities, it can be highly effective and motivating.  Just to be clear, use of the iPad during my sessions is a treat and is only used for a short period of time.

My new favorite app is one called Little Fox Animal Doctor created by Fox and Sheep digital publishing.  Little Fox Animal Doctor is just one of the many apps I have created by this brilliant company (for fun, check out Chomp, Pony Style Box and Unicorn Glitterbox).  I was initially drawn to this app because the kids I work with love any of the apps I have that allow them to be a doctor.  They have played Pepi Doctor and Toca Boca Pet Doctor for hours so I was excited to offer another choice to them.  In this app, there are 5 different animals with 15 different possible ailments that you need to help cure.  Whether it be the bat who tore her wing that needs to be stitched up or the mole who hit his head on a rock while digging through the ground, kids get to play the doctor and take care of the cute animals who live in the forest.

Little Fox Animal Doctor has become a fast favorite amongst the kids I work with.  Here are just a few of the things that I like about it:
*before you can actually treat your animal patient, you have to watch a short video that shows how they got hurt.  Before we can move on, I have the children tell me what they saw and explain to me why their patient is there.
*this app is a wonderful tool to work on improving speech and language skills.  Jacki Barredo, a colleague and speech therapist in NYC says "Great app for speech therapists to work on goals for: sequencing, memory recall, and HOW questions.  The visuals are very dynamic and colorful, which is also great for working on descriptors."
*while the characters remain the same every time you play, their illnesses and the plan of treatment changes.  This makes it so the kids are not memorizing what they are doing but actually thinking about and what they have to do.  I love that it isn't as predictable as some of the other doctor ones I
use.
*great for working on visual skills such as tracking, matching and organization.  On the top left hand part of the screen, there are pictures of the tools that you need to use to help your patient.  You then have to follow the steps provided in the correct order by finding the tools you need from the rotating medicine cabinet on the top right.  If you look at the picture to the right, you will see there are also some mini-games embedded within the app.  Here my friend Mack is fixing the broken bones of Ms. Owl who hurt her back while cleaning the house.
*great for working on improving executive functioning skills, such as focus/attention, modulation and regulation, planning and organizational skills.  For some of the kids I work with, I have them tell me their plan before helping their patient as I find this helps them organize and pace themselves while working.

As I have said in previous posts about apps and the iPad, there are lots of opportunities to work on additional goals while using the iPad.  For example, if you are working on improving grasping skills, have a child use a stylus when playing games.  My favorites are the Cosmonaut stylus and the crayon stylus by Fred & Friends.  Both are wide which helps to encourage a more age-appropriate grasp.  Another thing that can be done, which I do all the time, is have kids lie prone on a bolster or in the net swing while using the iPad.  This helps work on improving upper body strength and neck control/strength.  Kids are often so engaged by the app that they don't realize how hard they are working and can maintain this position for longer periods of time.  If you have a child who needs to work on improving social skills, you can have them play the iPad with a sibling or friend.  They will have to work together to make choices, talk through a plan and then execute said plan.

If you are looking for a new and engaging app for your children, be sure to check out Little Fox Animal Doctor.  It's one of those apps that are not only educational but fun for you to play with your children.  If you have a great family app that you have been using, please send them along.  I am only a click away and love hearing from each and every one of you.

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