Camp Haverim at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades, Guttenberg Center for Special Services, a summer camp for special needs children and teens ranging from ages 3-21, used iPads as part of the curriculum for the first time this summer. NameGames, an educational app for iOS and Android devices that strengthens relationships by teaching children the names and faces of their family, friends, classmates and teachers, was selected as the featured app.
For many individuals with developmental disabilities, processing may be delayed and piecing together the world they live in can be more challenging. For visual thinkers, pictures provide a way to communicate that makes sense. NameGames uses real-life pictures paired with familiar audio cues allowing the child to learn from concrete examples, while being respectful of their unique learning style. The app provides the skills they need to improve their facial recognition and gives them an opportunity to be a participant in their families and community.
"Pictures can be key to working with individuals with Autism as well as other developmental disabilities. NameGames gives these children an opportunity to recognize people and expressions in a valuable way and fosters the skills they need to connect the pictures with the closest people in their lives and build relationships by engaging with them in a more meaningful way. This is essential to helping them climb the developmental ladder and gain the tools they need to navigate a very complicated world." says Andrea Albert, Program Coordinator at 3L Place, a program in Somerville, MA for young adults with developmental disabilities.
Camp Haverim staff and volunteers saw the app's benefits extend far beyond facial recognition into social and communication skills as well. "Sharing and cooperative play evolved organically," stated Shelley Levy, director of Camp Haverim and all special programs at the Jewish Community Center on the Palisades. "The more social campers took pride in helping the less verbal kids play with the app. The activity also reinforced 'time on task', keeping the campers engaged with positive reinforcement and cooperation."
The app helped the children step outside of their comfort zone. "One of the less vocal campers was yelling out the names of his fellow campers after playing with NameGames for just 15 minutes," said one volunteers describing a camper's progress.
NameGames was crafted by PhDs in Cognitive Psychology and the Learning Sciences who specialize in creating developmentally appropriate technology. Using images of people and objects that the child interacts with in the real world, NameGames accelerates the development of important learning skills in a fun, entertaining environment. NameGames is a wonderful tool for helping people with autism. Familiarizing children with their loved ones fosters positive interactions, which are the seeds of strong, meaningful relationships.
About Camp Haverim:
Camp Haverim started its summer program in 1994. The Guttenberg Center for Special Services is dedicated to the belief that all individuals are entitled to participate in appropriate social, recreational, cultural and educational experiences whenever possible in natural community settings with appropriate, natural supports. Programs are designed to meet the wide range of specific needs of our participants. Our goal is to create a nurturing environment and community, allowing each individual the opportunity to reach their potential.
3LPlace empowers adults with autism and other developmental disabilities to lead meaningful, gratifying, healthy and connected lives, while easing their loved ones of worry and isolation. To make this possible, 3LPlace is building communities - online, and in the Boston vicinity - through their work in three vital, interconnected areas: Learning, Living and Linking. In an exciting collaboration with Tufts University, Jewish Family & Children's Services and over 25 master educators, therapists and clinicians, 3LPlace has developed a state of the art, comprehensive transition curriculum to guide individuals with autism through the transition to adulthood.
NameGames 1.05 is Free and available worldwide exclusively through the App Store in the Education category.