TiP Rating: 4/5 stars
Release Date: 1/13/2010
Seller: Model Me Kids, LLC.
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch, Requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later
Link to app (clicking launches iTunes)
App Store Description: Model Me Going Places is a visual tool for helping your child learn to navigate challenging locations in the community. Each location contains a photo slide show of children modeling appropriate behavior.
Summary: Model Me Going Places is a behavioral modeling app designed for children who experience difficulties in social situations. As a mobile educational tool, it uses a variety of images depicting different scenarios and appropriate response/reactions.
Review: There are plenty of books and videos for modeling appropriate social behaviors for kids on the Autism Spectrum (those with Autism, Asperger’s, and PDD-NOS), as well as other children who – like all of us from time to time – have trouble “getting it” in the social realm. In fact, some of the best are produced by the same company, Model Me Kids, which offers successful DVDs that illustrate acceptable behaviors. Now, it has developed an app to help parents navigate these tricky waters.
What is especially cool with this educational aid is the fact that it’s an iPhone app, which means it is mobile. How brilliant! Most ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) kids are fine at home and in familiar environments. My own 5-year-old son Gabe can sit and watch a video or read a book with success, but once he gets out there in the community, things can break down. This situation can be universal for parents, who may not always know how to get through to their kids “in the moment.” But with this on my iPhone, I’ve discovered the benefits of having a learning tool with us at all times. It offers clear and easy-to-understand images, along with corresponding descriptions of behavior, so we can flash through pics and ease those difficult situations when we’re away from home.
To begin, you have a choice of a variety of social situations to choose from.
This app, which runs in landscape mode, allows users to choose scenarios by location. Then the first picture in the slide show starts, introducing the situation. You have the option to continue the show, manually view the pictures by clicking the “play” button, or going back “home” to the list of locations.
A breath of fresh air about the Model Me Kids approach is that they don’t shy away from the tough stuff. They hit it head-on and provide clear directions. In some examples, children are being reminded to “not run,” “stay close to my dad,” and “keep hands to myself.” All of these behaviors can be hard for kids, and direct reminders really help.
The only downside for this app is that during the playground and mall scenarios, they used different children in the same story. I found it confusing, and I think little ones would, too. Gabriel, my 5-year-old, wondered aloud, “Who is this story about – a little girl or boy?”
All things considered here, I applaud Model Me Kids. They are truly providing a service by making these “social stories,” as they are called, available for the iPhone – and all for free. In future versions, it might be nice to see a game included where kids could match an appropriate behavior to the right setting. Even so, I still recommend this to all parents, not just those with Autistic children. Social challenges can plague all young ones, and having a little extra help now and then can help .