The fourth floor of Dr. Panda Town: Mall is open! This is an update that’s sure to please young fans of the series as well as parents and educators. Dr. Panda is known for their role-playing apps that capture experiences from a young child’s point of view. This specific point of view serves as a safe venue to rehearse and play out situations and roles within a given environment in the community. The mall contains 4 levels of activities and services that children experience first-hand when on family outings, and it works seemlessly with both Dr. Panda Town and Dr. Panda Vacation. Any single app or all three can be purchased depending on how much content you would like to expose to your child, making it a totally immersive environment or a simple one stop destination. 1stFloor: Clothing Store Toy Store 2ndFloor: Hair Salon Pet Shop 3rdFloor: Movie Theater 4th Floor: Arcade Dinosaur Playground Children love to create narratives and imitate scenes drawn from real or imagined experiences. This gives them a chance to practice dealing with thoughts or feelings that may be uncomfortable as well as just have fun reliving pleasant experiences from the past. As parents or teachers, we can facilitate the use of coping strategies through play. Many of the themes can also be used in anticipation of real events, for example “Once we get our haircut, we can go to the arcade!” Although the new stores are fun-filled playgrounds, kids that are experiencing these places for the first time may be overwhelmed. Many Arcades and Playgrounds can be sensory minefields, and it is easy to be overstimulated. Practicing helps children by becoming familiar with what is expected and to know what to do when they get there. It’s nice that Dr. Panda supports kids of all abilities in getting to know the spaces within their communities. Music and Sound Effects within the app, can be turned off initially to help kids focus on the events and activities and then turned on to increase other sensory elements. I especially appreciate that the Arcade has a limited amount of coins to play and prizes to collect. In addition, The Playground or Arcade can be filled with customers representing crowds. Here, Safety Plans can be rehearsed if kids become lost from a parent’s sight. Lastly, we all know that sometimes transitioning from a fun place can be daunting. By including a time frame, the app presents an opportunity to practice leaving as well as arriving. In summary, the reason why Dr. Panda is loved by children everywhere is the opportunity to create a story and every replay of the app can be different. The apps are continually updated so they remain fresh. Parents can pick and choose what stores they want to include through separate IAPs.
Written by Jo Booth
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.