A child doesn’t have to be on the Autistic Spectrum to be difficult to buy for, however when they’re not able to verbalise what they’d like to have as a new present, or often not willing to accept new things into their lives or a change of activity into their routine without it turning into a melt down it makes it a massive challenge for everyone at times like Christmas and Birthdays.
As we seemed to hit gold with Theo this birthday I thought I’d share a review of his new found favourite educational toy and all the benefit’s we’ve found to go along with it!
Here I introduce to you the LeapReader made by LeapFrog,
The LeapReader is an audio pen that allows the child to interact with books, maps and activity sets to aid in developing skills such as listening, reading and writing. Discovering through stories and games with favourite characters such as Disney, Cbeebies, Nickelodeon to name a few in area’s such as Mathematics, Social Studies, Science in a fun and hidden way!
To get started you charge the pen, you are provided with a USB connection lead, connect to an internet accessible computer, and follow the instructions to install LeapFrog Connect. This tool gives you easy access to the application store where you can find the download resources for the books that you buy. Connect also gives you a link to the Learning Path which gives you a history of your child’s usage of the LeapReader, details which books are most commonly read, activities most commonly used and suggest new material that your child may be interested in!
Once you’ve downloaded the audio software for the products that you’ve purchased it’s all go! Jump from book to book, page to page, map back to book, if it’s installed it’ll automatically recognise the item and take you on that learning adventure. So the child can just pick it up and play!
The positives that we’ve found with Theo
Bigger interest in books
More word repetition (maybe doesn’t know how to use the word in sense but has increased his vocabulary!)
Improved fine motor skills
Improved concentration time on specific subjects
Introduced new topics of interest
Improved social sharing to include others to read with him
I admit that the books and accessories to go with the LeapReader can be quite expensive however I’ve found that on www.amazon.co.uk you can buy lots cheaper! You just have to be very careful that you’re buying for the LeapReader and NOT the LeapTag system.
From an early age we’ve had to incorporate PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) into his life which on a day to day basis he’s still using now – At home he doesn’t really need them unless his routine is changing however at school they’ve a picture for everything!
In the beginning when we started using PECS with Speech and Language support, we kept it simple to introduce the cards to him, if we were going to the park we’d show him the park card, if he was going for a bath we’d show him the bath card so on n so forth. Trying to get him to focus on the cards to start with was a bit of a nightmare but he clicked that if he showed me the card of what he wanted to do he was rewarded with the task that the card showed (the park card was deffo his favourite!).
Once we’d got to grips with using cards for EVERYTHING we started using it to schedule his time. We got a laminated card and stuck velcro down the middle, Laminated all the PECS cards and stuck velcro to the back of them also. This way the reward for Theo was taking each picture card off with the completion of the task and it showed that he was finished with that part of the day!
In this picture we’ve got “Bath”, Pajamas” and “Bed”, this was organising his bedtime routine! He knew that he wasn’t getting TV before bed, so he wasn’t expecting it!
When Theo had gotten used to using the cards as a routine guide we started giving him the option of two cards for a task that he’d like to do. He’d get the option of “Toys” or “Books” or “TV”. Theo loved this because he knew when he’d done something that we wanted him to do he was getting rewarded with a task he’d chose!
The only problem that we came across with the cards was that when he was going through his colour obsession if the card didn’t match the colour of the object he’d refuse to take part or it’d cause a meltdown! Say the packet of crisps for snack time on the card was green and I was handing him a red packet – he’d refuse, scream, throw them away etc. However I found the way to get round that was to print the picture out in either an outline or a grey scale picture! Problem solved – Thankfully!
I’ve found a couple of sites online that do free cards/samples which I’ve listed below, before spending a fortune on software that you can print out speak to your Speech and Language Therapist they’ve always supplied ours so we’ve never had to go to the expense! Also its always worth a google search!