Screen time is a part of our children’s lives whether we like it or not. Sure we can limit the amout of time our children have but there is no escaping it altogether. Children are brought up knowing how to use tablets and computers, to support and aid them in their education, both in home and school environments. So why not embrace it and explore all it can offer our little minds?
Sonny, like many other children with Autism are literal thinkers and visual learners. Apps on tablets can be an invaluable learning tool for a child like him. When Sonny was little he was never interested in singing along to nursery rhymes with me, instead he would like to watch nursery rhyme videos on YouTube where he could see the story being played out to him in a way he could better understand.
Sonny enjoys screen time. He likes to watch children playing with toys and opening kinder eggs on YouTube. He likes to watch the same nursery rhymes on loop, his favourite being ‘Mummy finger, mummy finger, where are you?’ I have almost become numb to the sound of that song and zone out when I hear it playing. He loves to watch these videos on YouTube called ‘crying babies.’ These are adults dressed as super hero’s with super imposed baby faces flitting between happy squeals and sad tears.
Sonny also likes educational games such as matching pairs, railway maze, counting games and puzzles. It can help him in situations he finds stressful in order to zone out from further sensory input. For example, if we were in a restaurant and we were having to wait sometime for our food or if it became quite noisy, it would provide him with another focus and distract away from a potential meltdown.
In a bid to find a new app for Sonny to explore, I came across MITA, a Mental Imagery Therapy for Autism app based on Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT) and was intrigued by it straight away. The app is designed for children on the Autism Spectrum aged between 2 – 5 years and has been recommended by hundreds of physicians. Prior to getting started you have to enter some details, including your email address, child’s date of birth and diagnosis. The app has 9 different games which your child completes on a daily basis, when each level is completed you progress to the next difficulty stage. Each day consists of 4 activities and the reward of a playtime game at the end.
Sonny is very good at puzzles and enjoyed doing the puzzle games. He did them very quickly and moved on to the next activity. The second activity was a little more difficult, a hand appears in the screen and a voice asks ‘give me the dog.’ To begin with the only image on the screen is the dog, more items are added as you progress. If one particular activity is too difficult, you can visit ‘Parents Corner’ at the top right and choose another out of a total of 8 other activities.
Sonny was frustrated to begin with as he wanted to put a car on the hand but soon began laughing when he noticed the little emoji face in the top left corner. When you place an incorrect item on the hand he shakes his head to say no. Sonny found this very funny and would place a wrong item just to watch the emoji react. Put the right item on the hand and the emoji laughs and claps, gives a thumbs up and winks. The emoji laugh had Sonny in fits of giggles, a sound I love to hear.
The home screen is laid out like a time line from left to right, a journey which takes you from activity to activity. Children can see where they have to start and ultimately where it will end. Completion of one activity activates the next which until then is shadowed. This is a great visual aid.
After all 4 activities are completed, the playtime games are unlocked. This consists of 6 different versions of the same game, varying in theme. The themes are inclusive of many interests so there is something for every child. Themes include; Space Adventure, Kids and Toys, Lunch Box, Road Trip, Animal Kingdom and Sonny’s favourite Dinosaur Land!
Sonny enjoys the playtime game and exploring all the themes. You have to tap the images as they appear and they pop to reveal lots of little images. The Lunch Box theme has fruits, boxes of cakes and chocolates appear. You have to pop all them as they appear on the screen which helps to improve hand eye co ordination and fine motor skills.
Even Zachary who is only 2 enjoys playing MITA and he has no special needs diagnosis. He loves to work through the activities and exploring the playtime game at the end.
A brilliant educational app for all little ones to enjoy.
*Review of MITA through personal choice. All opinions of MITA are entirely my own.