Monday, November 7, 2016

Kid-Friendly Apps for Scheduling and Task Completion

Ever since the iPhone and iPad were introduced, app developers have been busy making life easier for children and caregivers. Many children, but especially those who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, benefit from keeping to a daily routine and knowing what to expect throughout their day. Two apps by BeeVisual help kids and their parents manage a predictable daily schedule and organize a long-term calendar. 

The first, Choiceworks App, is a task management app filled with useful tools. Its most basic function allows the user to create to-do lists with pictures, audio, reward choices, and custom photos or titles. Kids can then swipe through each of their tasks - like taking a bath and finishing homework - as they complete them to earn their reward choice, which has an optional countdown timer. This simple setup helps kids become more independent in carrying out their routines while enjoying the use of a phone or tablet. The Choiceworks App also has “Waiting” countdowns, to help kids identify activities they can do while they wait, and “When I am _____, I can _____” screens, which help them choose healthy ways to respond to their emotions. Most everything is customizable with highly recognizable icons, so caregivers can enter their own activities or even photos of a child demonstrating for herself exactly what it means to “brush teeth”.

There is a set of digital Companion Books embedded within the app to accompany the different task boards. These books are meant to be shared with the child before using the app, so she gets an idea of what the app intends to do. For example, the Companion Book about waiting talks about how hard it is to wait, why it’s important, and some good activities to do while waiting. What your blogger likes best about the app is the child-friendly task manager. Enabling children to progress through their own schedules by sliding tasks from “First I Need to” to “All Done,” leads to gains in independence while children learn the beginning skills of time management and delayed gratification.

BeeVisual also makes Choiceworks Calendar, an iPad app. This app is a child-friendly calendar app that uses pictures to display what is coming up today, this week, or this month. Like the previous app, everything is customizable so caregivers can put in photos and new activities. There’s also a countdown feature – the app will count out loud the days until an upcoming event that a child may be looking forward to. This app is a simple way to introduce kids to the concept of time beyond the daily routine, and can help them think concretely about long-term goals. Both apps are available on the iTunes store for under ten dollars.

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