Nicole's Nook Occupational Therapy Technology as Therapy

Nicole’s Nook: Apps that are More than Recreation

The iPad often gets a bad rap.  It’s too trendy, it’s too techy, it’s too mainstream, and it’s too gamey.  I’m not sure if all of those are legitimate words, but you get the point.  It looks like play, end of story.  And to give something so recreational to kids in an educational setting can be, well, just irresponsible.
While this is a valid concern and can be true in some instances, the iPad, when equipped with the right apps, the right features, and the right supervision and direction, can be a powerful learning tool.
Apple’s own apps, such as iMovie and GarageBand, are two of these misjudged “recreational” apps.  Clearly making a movie or a song is fun, but it also has the potential to provide creativity, inspiration, problem-solving opportunities, and even augmentative communication.
iMovie, available from iTunes for $4.99, is a powerful movie-making app, using photos or videos that you take with your iPod, iPhone, or iPad.  While you can make a short film or trailer, you can also create a presentation, a photo journal of your summer vacation, or tell a story.  For children who have difficulty with expressive communication, this app can be especially powerful.  Even for children who have difficulty with public speaking, this app can instill confidence.
GarageBand, also $4.99 and available from iTunes, is a music-making app that allows creativity and imagination.  You can play, record, mix, and share music.  It promotes expression and provides sensory input.  There is no right or wrong answer when making your own music!
The next time that you are browsing through the App Store, keep an open mind.  Many of those “fun” apps actually have true educational value, foster creativity, and provide alternative strategies to improve delays frequently seen in children with NF1.
Nicole Weckherlin, OTR/L