Nicole's Nook Occupational Therapy Technology as Therapy

Nicole’s Nook: Improving Behavior with Social Stories & Visual Schedules

The iPad can serve as a useful behavior modification tool, not necessarily in terms of using it as a reward or reinforcer, but to provide social stories and visual schedules. For many children, anxiety can play a large part in their poor behavior. That anxiety can stem from the unknown, the unpredictable nature of life, and the perceived lack of control over their world. Social stories and visual schedules can help address these issues and become an important part of their daily routine.
Social stories are a useful strategy to help teach tasks, expectations and behaviors. They provide some predictability, thereby, reducing anxiety and fostering a sense of control. A social story breaks down a routine as a list of steps, explaining each step with visual components. The story is reviewed prior to the routine and used repeatedly until they are able to perform the task consistently and correctly.
Some useful social story apps include:

  • Pictello, $19.99
  • Model Me Going Places 1 & 2, Free (preset stories)
  • Story Creator, Free Storyrobe, $0.99
  • Toontastic, Free Book Creator, $4.99
  • Puppet Pals, Free
  • Stories About Me, $5.99
  • iCreate… Social Skills Stories, $4.99

Visual schedules are similar to social stories in that they also provide structure and predictability, delivering the expectations and the sequence. They can be used to break down tasks and small activities, or be used in a more broad approach by encompassing an entire daily routine or part of the day.  Visual schedules utilize a “first-then” strategy, which is very useful for transitioning, a potential behavior issue for many children.
Some good visual schedule apps include:

  • Choiceworks, $6.99
  • Choiceworks Calendar, $4.99
  • First Then Visual Schedule, $9.99
  • Video Scheduler, $12.99
  • Visual Routine, $3.99
  • i Get… My Schedules at School Social Skills Stories, $4.99

So, rather than use the iPad itself as a reward, utilize some of these great apps to provide structure and predictability, and minimize those challenging behaviors!
Nicole Weckherlin, OTR/L
Occupational Therapist