As a licensed clinical social worker, I have worked with hundreds of kids and teenagers since 1994. For many, social skills do not simply come naturally; they need to be taught, just as they need to be taught spelling, reading, mathematics, social studies, and science. Kids with ADHD, learning disabilities, and autism spectrum disorders often find learning social skills to be especially challenging.
Throughout time, kids have learned through play. Kids as young as one year use pretend play to learn about their world. And, as any kid will gladly tell you, kids like to learn when we make it fun for them. When I was growing up, video games were emerging, but now the tiniest little ones can be observed effortlessly playing with their moms and dads’ iPhone, iTouch, and iPad.
Since the kids are interested anyway, why not teach them something while they play? There are many apps that teach kids social skills in a non-threatening, engaging manner.
The following is a list of some apps to help children with social skills:
1. Model Me Going Places– Free is a visual teaching tool to help children navigate common challenging locations in their community. Each location incorporates a photo slide show of children modeling appropriate beahvior. Locations include: hair salon, mall doctor, playground, grocery store, and restaurant.
2. Responding Social Skills– $0.99 teaches how to listen and respond to others, give directions, understand others’ feelings and perspective-taking.
3. Initiating Social Skills– $0.99 includes practice in greetings, starting conversations, giving information, and introducing oneself.
4. Everyday Social Skills– $0.99 Teaches basic social skills needed for everyday activities in the child’s community, including common activities like walking down the street, using a public restroom, waiting in line, asking for directions, asking for information, and joining a group.
5. Personal Social Skills– $0.99 Teaches responsibility, dependability, accepting consequences, maintaining personal hygiene, grooming, dressing, and more.
6. Hidden Curriculum for Kids– $1.99 Real-life scenarios spur conversations about the many unwritten social rules that we encounter daily that can often cause confusion and anxiety for those who cannot read these cues well.
7. Small Talk App– Presents conversation fillers for those awkward social moments, allowing users to choose between conversation: starters, jokes, factoids, “would you rather” questions, etc.
8. Look in my eyes– There are a series of apps that address eye contact as a social skill. Choose one of high-interest to the child: restaurant, car mechanic, undersea, dinosaurs, etc.
9. How would you feel if…– Allows children to discuss their feelings about a variety of situations to promote emotion awareness.
10. Eye contact toybox app– Helps kids practice eye contact while earning fun rewards.
11. Body language app– Offers full-body illustrations of body language to help kids become aware of gestures, postures, handshakes, and other body cues.
12. Conversation Builder– Teaches elementary-aged children how to have multi-exchange conversations with their peers in a variety of social settings.
13. Social Skills– $6.99; Offers social stories complete with photographs and sound to help children with social skills such as: attention, non-verbal communication, greetings, structured game play, turn-taking, imitation, and classroom rules. For the iPod Touch, one will need an external microphone to record the sound.
14. Super Duper What Are They Thinking?– Children can listen to 180 entertaining “thoughts” or answer “what are they thinking?” questions to teach perspective taking.
15. Stories2Learn– $13.99 Offers social stories that can be personalized using photos, writing, and audio messages. This allows stories to be created that show targeted social cues.
New apps are added frequently and as this industry grows, we will update you with the latest technology and apps.
*North Shore Pediatric Therapy, Inc. (NSPT) intends for responses to the blogs to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; all content and answers to questions should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s). Questions submitted to this blog are not guaranteed to receive responses. No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by NSPT to people submitting questions. Always consult with your health professional first before initiating or changing any aspect of your treatment regimen.