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Using popular media apps to enhance social-emotional relationships of children with complex communication needs

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Children with complex disabilities are challenged in communicating what they feel, think or believe. In the last years specialized applications for building communication boards on the iPad have been developed. Yet, even though children use these specific apps on a daily basis, the focus of teachers, parents and therapists is frequently on communicating basic personal needs related to their daily schedule. As a result, from a very young age these children do not enjoy mutually rewarding social communication and they develop a passive attitude in social contexts. Interventions to promote social–emotional growth need to involve parents, caregivers, and/or peers in social contexts in a natural, enjoyable way.
In this presentation the use of popular apps for making movies, stories and photo collages on mobile devices will illustrate how it is possible to enhance the “emotional presence” of the child in social contexts by “mirroring” his experiences and interactions with others through pictures and movies. Various case studies will be presented to demonstrate the use of applications that encourage “the embodiment" of the child, Theory of Mind (TOM) development, and participation in social media experiences in order to shed a light on how to use simple media opportunities to enhance the child's engagement and well-being in social interactions. It will be proposed that the potential of using apps is not just in their content but also in how they can be used in various contexts to augment and facilitate the emotional and social interactions of children with complex disabilities.


Orly Hebel    
Levinsky College of Education


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