Inclusive Technology’s Big Bang Patterns was originally developed for use with children with visual impairments or complex special needs to teach visual location, attention and cause and effect play. Due to the iPad’s portability, however, it can be used for so much more. The app itself consists of four different kinds of pattern generators, and within each section, there are up to twelve different patterns that are paired with music. This helps kids locate to the visual display by using the auditory input (music) as an anchor and a place to visually search and/or use as a motivator to maintain attention. Other uses for this app are for kids newly diagnosed on the spectrum or others with challenges to attention and/or targeting. For example, a few of the goals you could use Big Bang Patterns for are to initially gain attention to task, facilitate joint attention and to help improve both overall core strength and graded head and neck control depending on the placement of the iPad. Why is that important? Because kids that don’t have the skills to sit and look at something on their desks are using all their energy to just stay put and can’t pay attention or retain presented material. It is simply just too hard to keep everything together. This includes those kids who frequently get up and wander, fall out of their chairs, or tend to lean against someone or something. Attention develops from having a firm, secure and consistent ground or center point of reference. By having that “ME in this body” your attention can then extend out to the world and explore.
The four categories of dynamic patterns are:
And lastly, “Changing Shapes” where shapes morph from one image to another and then back to its original shape. This helps kids learn to stay with an image, and thereby increases their attention by being able to locate and stay with an image.
The settings are what turn this app from ordinary to extraordinary. The developer has really thought of and included everything in one package. You can change what patterns are presented in each section, color of the image AND the background. And you can bet I’d tweak it in the settings tab if I had a child who could only register and attend to warm colors or if I had a child who was fixated on the color blue. Under Actions, you can choose how long an animation is played as well as the level of prompts and need to take actions. There are so many ways to increase the difficulty or challenge levels. Switch Access includes choices of using one or two switches to activate the app, and there is extensive support in this area if you choose to use switches.
If using for a mobile child who can’t focus or sit still, you could use this held at the child’s standing eye level, and turn for them to view while racing by. After gradually gaining their attention, you could then start to have them engage the animation, or view and play in another position. By gradually increasing the demands, kids can easily transition… because they already know what is going to happen, so the jump in expectations is not so overwhelming. It’s “Easy Squeezey, I’ve done something like this before!”
Although it is near impossible to keep data within the app because of the many variables, you do need to adapt it to an individual’s strengths, weaknesses and projected progress on your own and adjust your goals accordingly. CHALLENGE - move the iPad and see where the focus goes, it is amazing to discover what happens.
About the Author
Jo Booth has been an Occupational Therapist for over 30 years and currently works in Pediatrics with early intervention. She sees kids newly diagnosed on the spectrum as well as medically fragile kids. She loves to move, explore and play every day; so that "her kids" grow up to be healthy independent learners.