Being able to associate everyday objects with like things, their pronunciations and purposes is a small but important step in learning to become independent. Whether it’s a spoon or fork, cat or bird, socks or sweaters, programs that teach sorting and matching should be in your educational quiver. This post explores how we decided on features that FaceUp Matching would have as well as the descriptions and thoughts on other iPhone and iPad apps that are out there. With the exception of FaceUp Matching, we have no relationship with any of the individuals or companies that created these applications; we just want to showcase anything that could help further your child’s education.
When I began creating our FaceUp app, one of the main concerns was that existing applications were too visually noisy or seemed far too immature for young adults with autism. Instead of cartoons and corny sound effects, we wanted to use real photos and human voices. Fortunately, I was more than happy to work with a simple design and real pictures because in many ways it let me focus on making a stable program quickly, in addition to being less distracting. We tested it with a young man who likes matching apps on his clunky touchscreen desktop computer at home, so it didn’t take long before he was up and running, and enjoying FaceUp during our field tests.
Before developing the FaceUp app, we looked at a wide variety of apps that might work for the young adults with special needs. Here are some of the interesting apps that we found:
Sort it Out
This app teaches sorting through a variety of categories: types of transportation, toys, colors and more. Each screen presents the user with some way to distinguish the different categories and the user drags icons to the proper zone from a starting area. For example, toys are organized by shelves and you need to drag the basketball to the top shelf, doll to the middle and toy trains and cars to the bottom. Wrong matches are reset to the starting area.
I like the simplicity of the layout; it’s very easy to get up and running; and the sounds aren’t too distracting (and can be turned off). This will require some fine motor skills, so if both association and coordination are difficult, this app might be too advanced. The starter version is free, but you’ll only get 2 screens (which will probably become boring quickly). Upgrading to 12 screens will set you back $1.99
Clean Up: Category Sorting
Another sorting app we’ve found is Clean Up. It’s pretty straightforward: 3 categories of items (toys, food and clothes) can be moved to their proper end destinations and the user is rewarded with a gold star and audio response. You’ll get 75 different items total, split among the different categories.
I love the clear photographs in the app paired with a no nonsense background, although the drawn forms look a little haphazard. This app goes for $1.99 on the app store.
By far the most comprehensive app in this group, Magic Sorter is actually 5 games in 1 and purports to aid in motor skill and cognitive development. The premise is simple: drag objects of different types or sizes onto the appropriate silhouette.
With lots of color and fun shapes, this app has potential to keep your rascal focused in for a long time. Pretty cheap too at $0.99
If you’ve tried and any of these apps and love them, or if they’ve completely useless and you think I’m crazy, send us a line! We love to hear your opinions. I plan on putting out more app reviews over the coming months so stay tuned!