Occupational Therapy… There’s An App For That!

The world of technology is ever changing. Whether being used for business or pleasure, there’s always a new app, program, or website at our fingertips. This provides a great level of support for all types of therapists around the world! Today we’re going to talk about apps that can be used at home to support your child’s development of fine motor and visual motor skills. Special thanks to one of our OTs, Dawn Sonnier, for her expertise on this post!

Children with Autism are often visual learners. They tend to think and learn in “pictures” or through the use of the visual system. Using apps, in moderation, on iPads, tablets, computers, or other devices can be a useful tool to incorporate a visual component while also improving your child’s fine motor and visual-motor skills.

Fine motor skills: the development of hand strength, dexterity, and coordination to complete small, refined movements. This impacts a child’s ability to open a container, button their shirt, or brush their teeth.

Visual motor skills: the ability to interpret and coordinate movements with visual information one receives. This impacts a child’s ability to complete a puzzle, catch a ball, or produce legible handwriting.

There are many apps that are wonderful skill builders prompting use of your child’s fine motor muscles. The additional of using a small stylus pen to interact with an app as often as possible impacts a child’s ability to hold and use a writing utensil, while having a positive and rewarding experience. Using a short stylus as opposed to a regular size pencil requires the child to use their fingertips to grasp and manipulate the stylus rather than gripping it with their entire hand, requiring movement from the elbow or shoulder to complete the task.

Below is a list of a few budget-friendly apps that we use on a daily basis. We’ve provided a description of each, as well as links to download and view a demo of the app.

Next time your child wants to play on your iPad or iPhone, open up one of these apps! Download, explore, and contact our OT department if you have any questions.

Dexteria Jr. – Fine Motor Skill Development for Toddlers & Preschoolers
This app offers hand and finger exercises specially designed for kids ages 2-6. There are three games within this app. “Squish the Squash” and “Pinch the Pepper” require visual motor skills, while “Trace and Erase” focuses on fine motor skills. All three games incorporate fun characters, music, and sound effects to create an engaging experience for the child so that it seems more like play than work! The app also keeps a log of all the activities your child has completed and how long it took them to do each one.

Get it here for $2.99.  View demo here.

This app combines fine motor skills with writing and spelling skills. The child traces letters and numbers through a “connect the dots” method. Kids drag the “Mr. Crab” character in the correct number order to successfully draw each letter. The app also displays a picture of the word once traced correctly to help with recognition and association.

Get it here for $2.99.  View demo here.

Shelby’s Quest
This app was designed by an occupational therapist for other OT’s to use in their classrooms. The app focuses on tracing and pinching movements and offers varying levels of difficulty. The activities revolve around Shelby the dog and her animal friends, making the experience kid-friendly and entertaining.

Get it here for $4.99.  View demo here.

LetterSchool – Learn to write letters and numbers
On this app, children learn the alphabet, letter sounds, and correct handwriting formation. The app uses a child’s voice to sing about each letter (“This is the letter A for ant!”) then prompts the child to trace the letter a variety of times, each time with different visuals and sounds. This app is less of a game, but still very fun and engaging for a child.

Get it here for $4.99.  View demo here.