Model Me Kids seems like a great company that makes great products for children with social issues, including those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). I first learned about them by downloading an app for the ipad called Model Me Going Places, which I will review here first. (My next post will be about their DVD with the same title.)
This was one of the first apps I downloaded for Quentin, because I had read a review of it somewhere online (I can’t recall where, but check out my resources page, as it was probably from one of those sites.) Why did I download it? Well, for one, it was free. But I don’t download apps frivolously – not even free ones. I had done my research here, and knew it could benefit him.
If you have been reading along, by now you know that Quentin is motivated and stimulated by visual imagery. I was looking for social stories to get him through some of tougher experiences he has with day-to-day life. One of our hardest public episodes is getting his hair cut. It is a grueling experience for all involved: the hairdresser, his parents (it takes both of us to hold him down), his sister (who has to witness this and cries throughout because she is already hypersensitive), anyone around watching, and, of course, Quentin. My boy is particularly sensitive around his head – his ears being the most sensitive. So we let Quentin’s hair grow out for about as long as we (and he) can tolerate it, and then send him to the most tolerant hairdresser we know to get the job done. Her salon is one chair behind a curtain at the back of a small toy store in Brooklyn. She has the typical DVD set-up, but that doesn’t do enough to distract him. Neither does the ipod or any tech device for that matter. It ain’t a pretty sight, but he always comes out looking cute, by some miracle.
Anyway – Model Me Going Places is a series of social stories on the ipad (or iphone), and there is one about going to the hairdresser. It shows the story scene-by-scene. Because Quentin loves photos, and he loves controlling them on a touchscreen, I knew this would be the perfect app for him.
As I may have mentioned before, at the moment Quentin’s ipad is being reserved for one specific purpose – as a reinforcement (or reward) for him going poop on the potty. It’s a powerful motivator, and he really is progressing, knowing that he can always get his favorite tech toy if he does the deed. So we are limiting the ipad to that event only – otherwise it is kept on a high shelf which he can’t reach.
However, when Quentin does indeed go poop on the potty and he is rewarded with the ipad, Model Me Going Places is one of the first apps he goes for. I think the fact that it is a series of photos really appeals to him. The app has a choice of six social stories: Hairdresser, Mall, Doctor, Playground, Grocery Store, and Restaurant. There are arrows to show how to navigate to the next screen, which Quentin quickly picked up on. The story is written in words at the bottom of the screen, but when you touch the screen it “reads” the text for you.
Unfortunately, Quentin likes to stim on visual images, and he doesn’t have much patience for the voice-over narration. In other words, he just keeps pressing the arrow keys to advance the stories or move back to a previous scene. It’s unclear if this app is actually teaching him anything, however it does hold his interest. He has visited each episode more than once, and likes to go back-and-forth to see all the pictures. He pauses at some, but then goes quickly through others. I allow him to guide himself – because actually, he wouldn’t let me interact with him at all with this app, so I have no choice. So while it cannot be used as effectively as I’d like it, I would say that it is one his favorites, and I think there might be a reason he is learning from it.
In my next post I will review the DVD, and continue with how the “Hairdresser” episode seemed to have an impact…