If your child struggles with fine motor delays, you know how difficult school can be. Simple tasks like copying words and drawing shapes can cause serious frustration. Dexteria Jr. educational app for iPad and iPad mini has been developed with the sole purpose of improving fine motor skills, using the same structure and sequence that an occupational therapist (OT) would use. It provides excellent carryover practice at home and can document progress over time. Because April is Autism Awareness Month, Fun Educational Apps will be highlighting apps throughout the month that can benefit children with autism. Dexteria Jr. is a Top Pick for us because it is expertly designed with special needs children in mind.
Dexteria Jr. was developed as a companion to the original Dexteria app, which has been in the app store for over a year. Developed by Binary Labs, Dexteria Jr. requires an iPad2 or later in order to access all of its features. Occupational therapists praised the originalDexteria app, but they felt it was too difficult for their younger clients. The developers listened to the feedback, redesigned the exercises, and Dexteria Jr. was born! There are three distinct exercises included in the app: “Squish the Squash,” an eye hand-coordination and tracking exercise; “Pinch the Pepper,” a coordination exercise for the thumb and pointer finger; and “Trace and Erase,” a drawing exercise using lines, curves, and mazes. The first level in all three exercises is quite easy; gradually, however, the difficulty level increases. Accuracy and speed are measured and recorded.
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I showed Dexteria Jr. to the occupational therapist on my team at school. She was thrilled to see the changes, and she couldn’t wait to download the app for herself. Before apps like Dexteria Jr. existed, OTs were forced to create their own materials or use photocopies of printed pages. This app marks a watershed in the availability of high-quality, low cost exercises that are accessible to the general public. These exercises do not replace occupational therapists, because it is their expertise that is required to assess and monitor fine motor skill development. That being said, parents can now provide carryover activities that are appropriate, leveled, and fun. The students that volunteered to test Dexteria Jr. for me liked the sound effects (“splat” and “squish”), calling them “gross, but great.” They also liked it when the peppers changed colors; if they pinched a red pepper, it disappeared, but if they pinched a yellow pepper, it multiplied.
Binary Labs is one of the premier developers of fine motor skills apps. Clearly they understand their market, as they are able to create exercises that are just the right level of difficulty. If you, as a parent, are concerned about your preschool child’s fine motor skills, Dexteria Jr. is an app you should check out. Fun Educational Apps names it one of our latest Top Picks.
Dexteria Jr. is available for download via the iTunes App Store - iPad and iPad Mini App
Julie Peterson is a speech/language pathologist (SLP) currently working in a school setting, serving children with special needs ages 6-14. Being part of an educational team has been one of the most satisfying professional activities in her career. She respects her OT colleagues tremendously, and from them she has learned how fine motor skills and cognitive skills are interrelated.
Remember, many kids will see their iPad, iPad Mini, iPhone or iPod Touch as a gaming device, but with your help they can get much more out of it. Help them turn their iDevice into a fun learning center!