The Monster plays with a lot of toys. His favorites, though, are the electronic ones – be they his iPad, my Nook, or the computer.
My biggest problem is, despite the huge number of applications out there to encourage children to model social behavior, there’s yet to be invented one that really encourages and rewards proper social behavior.
Okay, yes, I know what you’re thinking – it’s really asking a lot to have a software program that is able to simulate real human interactions so he gets “practice” with proper social behavior. And I’d agree that it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to come up with something that would fit the bill.
Many of the educational programs he has that try to teach attention and the like are very simplistic and he’s figured out the “rules”. There’s the one that’s like Where’s Waldo where he gets a “reward” every few screens if he can keep his concentration on a figure on the screen. There are ones that go through a social story slowly to ensure that he knows the steps of a process like going to the barber. But these aren’t really encouraging him to develop some of the other skills – he can track something he’s interested in just fine, and he can recite the story from memory. And yet, he isn’t necessarily replicating that behavior in public with real people.
What I would love is something that actually encourages him to synthesize what he’s picked up from everything. I don’t know if I’d rather something that could accept verbal input or just text-based (I’d imagine it would have to have both for non-verbal children) to encourage them to integrate some of the social skills-based activities they’re trying to learn. Something as simple as getting them to ask for toys, or say hello, with something less threatening than a real person, something that is patient the way only a computer can be.
I don’t need a replacement for human contact. I just would love for something that could augment it on days like today, where there’s obviously a limited ability to go out and find kids for him to really interact with (ones who can be patient given his challenges)…