Using sensory apps as PECs motivators


photo-7When I first got an iPad, the apps with easy touch-activated sounds and visual effects (examples below) were the first ones I downloaded. They are fantastic as basic cause and effect activities and are highly motivating for children of a range of ages and abilities.

It took me a while to think of a way to use them for language based activities with children at a higher level. Then it struck me that if you think of the iPad and its sensory apps as a motivating toy in the same way as SLTs think of ‘bubbles’, it makes it much easier to fit into language activities.

photo-8I work in a school with a large number of children with ASD, where iPads are an obvious motivator for communication. The sensory apps work well when encouraging use of PECs across the day and in different situations.

How to use in class:pecs1

  • I started by using sensory apps in a communication group with two or three students who were using PECs to communicate.
  • Each student was given a selection of symbols in their PECs book for familiar apps so they could initiate requests for what they wanted.
  • When a student initiated a request for an app, I set up a timer (see previous blog) for 15-20 seconds before handing the iPad over. This gave a clear auditory signal at the end of their turn on the iPad
  • I then waited for another student to initiate another request.

You could make this into a small group turn taking activity by connecting the ipad to the whiteboard (see blog on airserver for how to do this) so that the other students could watch the apps on the whiteboard as they waited for their turn.

Some of my (and my students’) favourite (and mostly free) sensory apps:

  • Pocket pond
  • Fireworks Arcade
  • Fluidity HD
  • Cause and Effect Sensory Light Box (£1.49)
  • Falling Stars
  • Romantics
  • Reactickles Magicphoto-5
  • Paint Sparkle
  • iZen
  • Bubbles (£0.69)
  • Music Sparkles