One of the first things kids need to learn before they can get organized is temporal and spatial parameters for completing a task. The new app, StepByStep Pro, by SOAR Therapy LLC, really fills that gap by teaching sequencing of daily routines and tasks. Why is that so important? Kids need to know that a task has a definite beginning, middle, and end. If demands and expectations are not placed on kids, time turns into this never ending unraveling of events, and demands are just excruciatingly painful to complete, let alone start. Sequencing provides a measure or rhythm and supports the internal inertia we all need to get things done. StepByStep was created by the husband and wife team, Aaron and Erica Matzkin OTR/L. Erica is an Occupational Therapist and found herself wanting a sequencing tool that was more adaptable, portable and was able to keep data. There are companion sequencing cards available through SOAR Therapy LLC’s Etsy site or through Amazon. I was given the app for review purposes but did buy the cards because I wanted to bring more of the motor system on board while using the app and also use the cards as a means to visually practice shifting gaze from one point to another whilst retaining the purpose and execution of a task. The cards are 34.99 for the children's seat and 39.99 for the adult sequencing set. It may seem expensive, but these are teaching tools that will last for years and have more relevancy than other classic cards (which are the same or more in price). Let's look inside. On opening, choose between the Kid’s or Adult’s Menu. (The Adult’s Menu contains some of the same routines as the kids, but with added steps to sequence an act). Items from writing an email to making a sandwich are included. Tasks vary from 3-10 steps and are displayed in a card format. One then arranges each card in its proper sequence on the iPad. Illustrations are bright and cheerful and free from visual clutter. Steps are also framed, further reinforcing the sequence and using it as a means to mark time. Every user has a profile, and a history is created for each individual for easy data collection. A big plus to using the app is that progress can be emailed to parents or other team members. My only wish would be the ability to adapt the number of steps, and gradually add in more as a child’s attention and motivation increases. Depending on the individual, this can be easily remedied by using the cards first with a lower step count or adapting the means of play in other ways. Sometimes kids have difficulty shifting gaze, and this can be for many reasons, be it motor, visual acuity or processing, or even knowing how to sustain attention in a bigger space. By using the app with the cards, teachers or therapists can achieve a number of goals and time for practice. I like to use a stand for my iPad, such as the Grip Case Stand. It works perfectly in synch with their cases and puts work on a vertical surface. I then may place manipulatives on a black cloth or board to make the cards visually pop. With StepByStep in this particular set up, kids can work with the cards and app in tandem. The teacher or therapist could then either have kids compare match or finish the remaining steps. The cards can also be placed about the room or gathered in an obstacle course, set up and then enter choices on the iPad. Why wouldn’t I just use the cards? It is because the iPad brings forth another dimension, depending on its placement. It is also one great reinforcer. There are times when I may exclusively use the iPad, especially for kids with motor planning or difficulties with grading force, or for children with low vision. The backlit screen offers so much to children with low vision or challenges with attention. The ability to easily transition to off screen practice will help set an individual towards independence. And that is something beautiful to witness. Check out StepByStep Pro by SOAR Therapy LLC. This is a TWA top pick, and a great addition to a therapist’s or teachers toolbox. Jo Booth OTR/L has been an Occupational Therapist for over 35 years, and currently practices at EasterSeals of Sepa, Montgomery County Division mainly focusing on Early Intervention. It is an APS (Approved Private School) and home outreach based setting. She has also worked in Adolescent and Adult Rehabilitation. Writing reviews for Teachers With Apps have been a tremendous opportunity and experience to share and learn with others.
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.