Friday 23 August 2019

Apps that we find useful - Review

**** Please note that we do not receive commissions of any kind for this post. These are simply Apps that we have found useful. ****

Over the past few years, a number of Apps have been recommended to us by both O and L's various therapists to assist in developing different skills and also to assist in providing strategies to manage O's anxiety. Just recently I have been asked by numerous people what Apps I would recommend for other families to download to assist their children so I thought that I would dedicate a blog post to discussing these Apps.

The majority of the Apps mentioned in this post are incredibly useful and a few of the Apps are just for fun Apps! In writing this post, I spoke with both O and L to get their input and asked them to rate the Apps that they used out of 5 stars. With any App that we download onto either the phone or other electronic device, we will always test the App first, just to make sure that there isn't anything untoward in the App. So all of the Apps aimed at children mentioned in this post have been used by myself or Daddy Superhero prior to O and L being allowed to use them.

Please keep in mind that a number of these Apps are useful in providing strategies that can be used for anxiety and other medical issues. The following Apps are not meant to treat any illness or replace the need for professional medical care or professional therapy services. If you feel that you or your child could benefit from medical treatment or therapy for any condition, please speak to a trusted medical professional.

Strong Minds

Recently O was diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder and was started on an Anxiety medication. We wanted an App in which we could assist O to track her thoughts and feelings each day. Strong Minds is an App that was recommended to us by one of O's therapists so that O could start to track how her anxiety was making her feel each day. Strong Minds is a free App in Google Play which provides the user with mental health tools through the use of interactive stories, visuals and guided meditations.

One of the great things that we love about this App, is that there is a section in which O can record her daily thoughts and feelings. Within the "history" section of the App, O is able to record how she has been feeling, the strategies that she used throughout the day and any other information that she wants to record down. This has been great for O to be see just how much happier and calmer she is feeling each day.

Other sections of the App include a stories area in which the user can learn how thoughts, feelings and actions are connected through reading several illustrated stories. Find your feeling assists the user to identify what emotion they are feeling through the use of facial expressions. This section also has explanations of different emotions and possible strategies that the user could use. There is a section with meditation audios for the user to listen as well.

Out of 5 stars .... O gives this App  stars!

Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame

Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame is an App that one of L's Occupational Therapists recommended several years ago when we were working with L on his emotional regulation skills. This is another free App that is available in both Google Play and the Apple Store.

This particular App is aimed at children between the ages of two years to five years of age and uses Sesame Street characters throughout the App. The App itself teaches children skills such as problem solving, self control, planning and persistence. The App is part of Sesame Street's Little Children, Big Challenges initiative which aims to provide children with tools to help them build resilience and overcome the every day challenges that they may face.

As the user progresses through this App, they will help a Sesame Street monster friend calm down and solve everyday challenges similar to challenges that the child may face such as not being able to dress themselves, first day of school, becoming frustrated while playing and so on. The App is interactive in that user needs to tap the screen to progress through the sections of the App - tapping the Monsters tummy, tapping the monsters thought bubbles and then helping the monster to chose which plan to use to solve the problem that the monster is facing in the App. The narrator in the App is encouraging towards the user and prompts the user as to what step they should take next, for example "pop the bubbles."

L loves the animations in this App and as he uses it, he is able to relate what he is learning to real situations that he has found himself in. 

While this is aimed at younger children, O loves to play this App too! One of the other great aspects about this App is that when L is using it, he thinks he is just playing a game! The power of play!

Out of 5 stars .... O gives it  and L gives it !

Toca Pet Doctor

This is an App that has been recommended to us by several of L's speech therapists over the last few years. It is another free App that is available in both Google Play and the Apple Store. Primarily this is just a game but we were initially using it to teach L problem solving skills, planning and persistence skills. In this App, the user meets 15 animals that need some some help as well as love and care. It is an interactive App in which the user has to complete several steps for each animal from looking after their ailments, grooming the animals and then feeding them.

The artwork and animations in this App are very appealing to children, L goes back to this App time and time again. It is an App that is aimed at children between the ages of 2 years and 6 years of age. And again through the power of play, L is developing his executive functioning skills in having to think about steps he needs to use to help each animal.

Out of 5 stars .... L gives it  stars!

Doctor Kids 
(developed by M by Bubadu)

This is yet another App that has been recommended to us by several of L's speech therapists over the last few years. It is another free App that is available in Google Play and the only complaint that we have it is that there are in App purchases available and it does contain some advertisements for other games and products. Again, primarily this is just a game but we were initially using it to teach L problem solving skills, planning and persistence skills.

The idea behind this App is that children are coming into the doctors clinic with various injuries and ailments. The user needs to appoint the patients to the correct doctors office by matching symbols on the child to those on the reception desk. Once the patient has been redirected, the user becomes the treating doctor and treats the patient. The user then needs to follow the steps to treat the patient. It's almost a series of mini-games with the main game.

The artwork and animations in this App are bright and colourful and while L hasn't played this game in a while, it is one that he goes back to every now and then. This App is aimed at children between the ages of 3 years and 8 years however O still enjoys playing the games. And again through the power of play, L and O are practicing their executive functioning skills as well their fine motor control in manipulating the instruments in the app.
Out of 5 stars .... O gives it 
 and L gives it !

Super Slime Simulator

This App we stumbled on quite by accident when O and L were looking for a new game to download onto my phone. It is a free App that is available in both Google Play and the Apple Store. And as the name suggests it is all about slime, but without the mess! There are in App purchases, however by playing the game, you earn medallions that can be used in the game. 

Again this is more like a game within a game as there are lots of little mini games in the App. Each day there is a new surprise pack to open which will contain two items - a new slime type, a new colour and a new decoration to add to the slime. The combinations of slimes, colours and decorations that you can make, really are endless!

You can make slime and then stretch it, squish it, knead it and pop it. Both O and L love this game and more often than not, they'll be on this App when they are allowed screen time. Daddy superhero regularly gets messages from the little superheroes when they send their virtual creations to him!!

I discovered quite by accident that this App assists both O and L to calm when they are in sensory overload. As both little superheroes have said "making and playing with the slime is very satisfying." For them, playing this game is very similar to the effects of when they stim - playing with slime helps them both to calm when in sensory overload.

Out of 5 stars .... Both little superheroes rate this a HUGE  stars! They honestly love this App.

Smiling Mind

This is an App that was recommended by O's psychologist when we were looking at using alternative strategies to assist O to self manage her anxiety. We were starting to introduce mindfulness and this App is all about mindfulness. It is a free App available in both the Apple Store and on Google Play.

Smiling Mind is a unique web based and App-based program that has been developed in conjunction with psychologists and educators to bring some balance to peoples lives. Smiling Mind is a 100% not-for-profit organisation and their aim is to make mindfulness meditation accessible to everyone.

Smiling Mind has various tiers within the App aimed at different age ranges of children, teenagers and adults.

This is an App that O consistently goes back to when she is feeling overwhelmed.

Out of 5 stars .... O gives it  stars.

Left vs Right: Brain Games

This is an App that I originally downloaded for myself when I wasn't studying so that I could keep my brain active! It is a free App that is available from both the Apple Store and Google Play however the free version only has limited access to the games. If you subscribe to the App, you gain full access to all of the games. If you're like me and not into subscribing to Apps, you only have partial access to the App however it you are really keen and watch the videos in the App you can then gain access to some of the VIP sections!

Left vs Right has a total of 50 games that test and train your brain in six different areas - Awareness, Adaptability, Reflex, Reasoning, Precision and Patience. There is a section in which you can see your progress in each of the six different areas however this is a VIP section but if you are patient and watch a short video, you do gain access to this area.

O has become a fan of this App in the last twelve months. As she says "I like to test my brain to see what it can hold and to see what my brain is capable of."

Out of 5 stars .... O rates it  stars. I give it a  out of 5, even with the videos to watch to gain full access!

Migraine Buddy

This is an App that I use to track my migraines. It is a free App that is available in both Google Play and the Apple Store.

Put very simply this App is an advanced migraine tracking journal. It was designed by Neurologists and data scientists and it really is a very useful App.

Within the App you can record the onset of migraines, the triggers, migraine symptoms, medications that you used to help with the migraine, migraine frequency, duration, the pain intensity and location and other lifestyle factors so that you can gain insight into why your migraines may be occurring. Once all of these details are entered, you are given an easy to read summary report on your migraine. The reports stay in the App and can be exported so that you can take the details to your GP if needed.

I have found this App incredibly useful to record details of my migraines as well as what works and what doesn't work. There is also a sleep tracking function within the App.

Out of 5 stars .... A very definite ★★★★ stars.

Skyview Free

One of O's intense interests is all things space. A few years ago we were given a telescope as a gift so that we could search the night sky with O which she absolutely loves but at times it simply isn't practical to get the telescope out. Last year one of our friends suggested that we download Skyview. O loves this App as she can open it and find stars, constellations, planets, the moon, galaxies, satellites and other celestial objects day or night! 

We've used to track and locate the International Space Station as it flew overhead. We've also used the App to track the progress of a lunar eclipse last year. And I often many, many screen shots on my phone of celestial objects that O has found interesting! One of the reasons that O loves this App so much is that no matter which direction the phone is facing, even down towards the ground, O can see where everything in space is!

It is a free App that is available in both Google Play and the Apple Store.

Out of 5 stars .... O rates this a very definite !

Sky Map

Like the App mentioned above, Sky Map can be used to find and track stars, constellations, planets, the moon, galaxies, satellites and other celestial objects day or night! It is described as a hand held planetarium for your mobile device! It is a free App that is available in Google Play.

O will swap back and forth between this Sky Map and Skyview but she does prefer to use Skyview.

Out of 5 stars .... O gives this  but only because she prefers Skyview! Sorry Sky Map!

Helix Jump

This is another just for fun game that is a free App available in both Goggle Play and the Apple Store. It is an App that has ads in it but nonetheless, L loves it. It is one that will keep him occupied as we wait in specialist reception areas.

It is a game of skill where the user needs to bounce a ball down through a helix maze. L has said that this App is also satisfying to play so it is another App that can bring calm to sensory overload.

Out of 5 stars .... L says that this one can get ★★★ because he likes the slime game more.

How to Draw Cartoon
by Creative Apps 

This is an App that we recently downloaded for L as he wants to learn how to draw his favourite cartoon characters and other superheroes. This particular App is available for free in Google Play. There are in App purchases but L hasn't discovered them yet!

There are dozens of characters to draw and when the user chooses one to learn to draw, the App takes the user step by step through the process. There is also the option to colour the picture once the user has drawn it. L loves this App and will practice drawing in the App before drawing the character on paper. It is definitely assisted him in his confidence in being able to draw his favourite characters.

Out of 5 stars .... O gives this a ★ rating and L gives this ★ as he learnt how to draw Dragonball Z characters!

And don't forget to check out O's tutorial on how to create stop motion animations as she mentions a few different stop motion Apps!

1 comment:

  1. I am loving all of these fabulous apps especially the Left vs Right: Brain Games app as I am so getting that one now for myself :) Thank you for sharing!


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