To an adult, a toy is just a toy; but to a child, a toy is a powerful learning tool. It not only serves as a vehicle to teach valuable skills, it also allows children to express themselves in constructive ways. Playing with toys is one of the first modes of communication that a child uses. Even before a child speaks, he has the ability to use his toys to express his feelings.
Computer games are some of the most impactful teaching tools. Why? Because children can relate to them on more meaningful and interactive levels. While true for all children, it is particularly true for children with special needs.
Special needs children, particularly children who have difficulties with life skills, such as communicating, may be able to more easily express themselves and learn from the information that is presented via computer games. These games have a high level of interaction, enabling children to act out and apply what they are learning in a very meaningful way. Believe it or not, acting is a more powerful learning method than more traditional approaches, such as reading, listening, and seeing.
All special needs children, particularly those with autism and cerebral palsy, can benefit from computer games. Children with cerebral palsy, for example, are afflicted with physical disabilities, however their mental capacity is not affected at all. While they may be unable to speak in order to communicate, they can use computer games.
Types of Games to Choose
When choosing games for special needs children to play, there are some key factors to take into consideration. Dozens of games are available and the best part is the ability to pick and choose based on your child’s specific needs. As you choose, be sure that the game is easy to understand and follow, with clearly set objectives and goals.
As the games are being used for the ultimate purpose of education, feedback is very important to the success of your child. Any feedback should be immediately offered, giving suggestions on areas of improvement, and at the same time, the game should make it easy for you to see your child’s progress. One of the most important criteria is, of course, is that the game be engaging and meet the interests of your child.
Here are some downloadable game suggestions that provide exceptional benefits for children with special needs.
This game, which is also known as “the Write Tool for the iPad” is an excellent game designed to be used for the betterment of writing skills. A unique Keyboard Creator makes it possible to make customized keyboards which feature letters, words, sentences, and even pictures.
The keyboards can be completely customized to feature different colors, sizes, and even voice recordings. There is also a notepad feature that allows for prediction of words to help with spelling.
With this downloadable game, your child can create pictures, flashcards, storyboards, and other types of visual cues that can be used to make it easier for children with special needs to process information. Children with autism and cerebral palsy will particularly benefit from this game, as it is common for children with these disabilities to have difficulties communicating, and tend to rely on visual cues for learning.
This word-building game helps foster literacy development skills. It is a very basic game and helps teach common sight words. Images of the words are displayed on the screen, and then the words are said letter by letter as the letters are dragged and dropped into the appropriate spot.
For example, the image of a dog may be presented on the screen and children will be presented with the letters in the word. They will then have to drag the letters and drop them into the appropriate spot in order to spell out the word. When a child is able to associate pictures with words and spelling, they are able to recall the information much more easily.
This game is ideal for children with ADHD, as aids in increasing concentration, as well as promoting the ability to stay focused. This game, using NASA technology and biofeedback to measure progress, actually requires users to wear a helmet in order to play, which ups the fun value and improve the benefits of the game.
Computer games provide amazing benefits for all children, particularly for children with special needs. They offer a hands-on experience, making learning more meaningful and allowing children to better digest and retain what they learn.
Author info: Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer in Southern California. As a mother to a son with cerebral palsy, she knows how impactful computer games can be, both educationally and developmentally. She is always on the lookout for new, fun games. Follow her on Twitter for more.
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