I work with a 12 year old named Philip, twice a week, providing social skills intervention. Philip is diagnosed with Autism and I have worked on and off with him for 9 years, so I have definitely seen a lot of growth in his language skills during that time. We often use the iPad during therapy both to work with specific therapeutic apps and for reinforcers. Like many children his age, he loves playing Angry Birds (right now, especially the Star Wars version). This past week during one of our sessions, Philip requested to play Angry Birds for his reinforcer, which I did not have a problem with at all, but knew that I was going to turn it into a learning session for him.
Firsrt, after I told him that he could play Angry Birds for his reinforcer, he negotiated the amount of time that he would play it for. Of course, during a 45 minute session, he wanted to play for 10 minutes. I suggested 5 minutes and we settled on 7 minutes (this is higher than the usual 3 minutes but it wqas towards the end of a great session).
Next, Philip needed to indicate to me using a complete sentence which version of Angry Birds he wanted to play. As has been the usual over the past month, he stated, "Kim, I want to play Angry Birds Star Wars." He then needed to provide me with instructions on how to find Angry Birds on my iPad. At this point, prior to launching the app, we reviewed the rules for playing Angry Birds. these included not hitting pause and restarting when not hitting the appropriate targets.
Philip was then allowed to play. I provided a version of partner augmented input (PAI), which comes from the world of AAC by providing social commentary as he played. I made statements like, "great shot!", "almost," and "oh...that is how you do that."
Of course, as I would have expected, Philip broke the rules and went to restart a level. At this point, I took the iPad and declared that it was my turn to play. I verbalized as I played making comments like, "oh no!" and "I almost got it." Philip started to provide me with instructions such as "Aim higher," and "lower, lower." These were not promted but rather spontaneous. After I played a round, he actually asked if he could have a turn. We proceeded to play a number of rounds by taking turns and helping each other and/or providing feedback/commentary.
So, as you can see, even a game like Angry Birds can be turned into a great opportunity for social skills training!
Do you have ways that you use Angry Bird for therapy?