In my last post I discussed resources on YouTube that can be used as video models for taking on roles and social behaviors when playing games. Games certainly have a place in social learning situations, and can easily be aligned with particular concepts that kids are working to apply in their interactions. Having "attended" ASHA's online conference on interventions for adolescents and adults with ASD, I was particularly struck by Jed Baker's description on how he gets kids to work on "winning the invisible game" (e.g. following the hidden rules of games that make everyone feel positive about the activity).
For years I have loved the Family Pastimes games for their ability to provide varied cooperative game experiences. The games all have a narrative spin and specific character roles so I often introduce them using Story Grammar Marker® so my students "get the story" of the game, for example, being waiters at a diner needing to serve all the customers before the bus leaves (that one is Bus Depot Diner). I recently discovered quite accidentally that FP had put one of their simpler dice games in app format. Max the Cat ($1.99) ports the board game of the same name perfectly into an iPad version. As they describe it:
"We must help get the little Creatures safely home before Max, the Tomcat, catches them. In an exciting way, children learn logic, consultation and decision making. An important issue to discuss is also raised: we don’t like Max catching those Little Ones, yet we recognize that he is a natural hunter. How do we resolve this in our minds and hearts? Let’s talk it over."
Indeed, sometimes the Family Pastimes games have a bit of a grim outcome, but all the kids I've worked with can deal. My students loved this app and I was happy to see that if a creature is caught (it's quite easy to avoid this by using the creatures' shortcuts and calling Max back to the porch for a treat) it's represented with a gentle whooshy effect. So help your students follow "invisible" rules like avoiding touching the iPad while someone else is taking his turn, consulting others before using any treats, and gently making suggestions. Notice how many opportunities there will be for them to use if/then conditional thinking and language. Gameplay does take about 20 minutes or so, and my only regrets are that there is no game-saving feature, and that the creatures' shortcuts are sometimes hard to use (make sure you play a practice game to figure out how this works). So check it out- it's great when an app is actually cheaper than the analog version of something!