Tuesday Apps Review – Touch Autism’s Calm Counter

April 17, 2012

I thought it might be time to start talking about the iPad and the plethora of apps available to not only the autism community but any special needs child.  I must admit, I did not buy an iPad thinking that it would be a useful tool in helping my child overcome his autism.   I bought an iPad for myself (it was actually a gift that I somehow convinced ZAKSMOM to give me) to while away all my free time however, I never get to use it.  If you have one (or an iPhone for that matter) I am sure your children live on it more than you do.  From Angry Birds to Fruit Ninja to Instagram (Zak is really into taking pictures and videos lately), it is all about having fun – not learning!

Well, once we caught up to the real world, we started seeing the benefits of some great apps and how they could help Zak, especially in social situations and expressing his worry or anxiety.  See, these are our biggest challenges with Zak.  Over time, he has learned about friends and how to be one although it is still, and likely always will be, a work in progress.  However, his biggest struggle to this day is his ability to control a meltdown which leads me to today’s choice for app review – Calm Counter by Touch Autism (www.touchautism.com).

I took this blurb from their website:

The app opens up to a “I need a break screen” that vocalizes “I need a break” when it is tapped. The screen then transitions to a red screen with an angry face and the number ten. With each tap the screen transitions to a calmer face and color. In this way, the app prompts the user to count backwards from ten followed by a deep breath.  The app also includes a simple social story with line drawings about anger. The social story talks about feeling angry and things you can do, like counting to ten, breathing deeply and taking a break, to calm yourself down.  The settings screen allows you to choose from male, female or no vocals for counting back from ten and for reading the social story out loud.

What I liked about this is that we have been using what we call “temperature scales” with Zak for about a year now.  We have always had something such as “stoplight” cards (red, yellow and green) that he could use in his classroom when he is needing a break or how he is feeling.  Simply put, this is a very nice app for helping a child express how they are feeling at any moment and then giving them the opportunity to respond in an appropriate manner.  It not only uses the visual scale (smiles to frowns on the scale) it uses a social story to appeal to the child in their response.  Other reviews for the product are some where in the middle.  Most lower ranking reviews had issues with the app crashing but I never have experienced this.  The app works fine and Zak does use it.

Bottom line is this is a really nice app but in my opinion, the $2.99 is a little steep (I prefer to be called frugal, thank you very much).  It is a bit simple for the price tag but all-in-all, we have seen a nice benefit in controlling some outbursts before they start (which is always a good thing!).  You can find the app at here on iTunes.  Now, if I can only get my iPhone back (still waiting on the new iPad but coming soon).


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