Laureate First Words: A couple of years back I worked with a seven-year-old autistic nonverbal child. His receptive skills were limited to being able to point to a few common items consistently. I pulled out all the stops trying to move this child forward. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful in making an small difference in his communication skills. At the time, I tried various iPad apps in my large arsenal. The child enjoyed swiping the pictures, but it never turned into a learning experience of the kind I intended.
Laureate First Words is an app that has the potential to help severely impaired autistic children like the child above and others with severe deficits in receptive vocabulary. The app focuses on a basic receptive vocabulary of 50 early developmental words. There are five levels of difficulty. Also available are pre and post-tests.
This app uses what Laureate Learning Systems calls Optimized Intervention. According to the developer, OI “Monitors progress and automatically adjusts the instructional level of support for each word.” The automatic adjustment makes this an app that can be used independently. If the child’s response is incorrect, the app makes the task easier. There is no wiggle room for a child to randomly tap on any picture. He will not move forward. The app will continue to present the word until the correct picture is selected. The word will remain a part of the child’s individualized program until the child has demonstrated mastery through consistently correct identifications.
I like the animations that are included in the app. The animations are fun to watch and reinforce the vocabulary. Children and adults will enjoy it.
The app offers a database and the ability to turn on or off many features such as the written word, animation, and verbal praise. When inputting the name of the student, there is also a box for writing in any other information one wishes. The app tracks data from each session and provides cumulative data on a student’s performance as well as single word data. Laureate will soon be updating the app to include printing and email options.
For those of us who work with individuals with severe deficits in basic vocabulary, this app is well worth the price.
Developer website: www.laureatelearning.com