New York, NY, January 11, 2012 --(PR.com
)-- Has technology advanced to the point where an iPad can mentor a child in the middle of a social conflict? A New York behavior management specialist thinks so. Fed up with traditional interventions used to manage and motivate children with social, behavioral and academic challenges, Lorraine Millan, who holds a Masters degree in Applied Psychology, has developed an app designed to be a behavior management device and a teaching tool. The Social Navigator app (http://www.socialnavigatorapp.com
) is designed to reduce conflicts as they occur and train people to focus on problem solving and positive outcomes.
Once her own special needs child started using the iPhone and iPad, she quickly saw the potential for smart devices to support and supplement the concrete practices that she had been advocating in her own parent and professional training sessions. It quickly became apparent that handheld devices enhanced the positive behavioral supports and research-based practices that she had been using all along.
“It was an epiphany,” said the mom of four. “The technology has finally advanced to the point where it can fix the two key flaws in how we manage behavior and improve skills in kids. Not only can we finally walk a child through a social situation systematically in the moment, when real learning will take root, but we can also begin to change attitudes and correct the long-held belief that learning and behavior problems are rooted in low motivation and that discipline and reinforcement models are the best ways to teach.”
The app is geared to help children with social and behavioral disorders, such as Asperger’s Syndrome and Attention Deficit Disorder, but is equally suited to a wide spectrum of behavior and addresses the needs of any child struggling socially, behaviorally and academically.
“The latest research and imaging studies have identified differences in the brains of children who struggle with learning and managing behavior,” said Ms. Millan. “These differences influence the way that children attend to, evaluate and react to the world around them.”
Traditional interventions ignore these neurological and cognitive differences. They assume that making a connection between maladaptive behaviors and negative consequences is enough to effectively teach children, but never address why they struggle in the first place. Many social skills programs, like video modeling and and social stories apps, also fall short. When the child is interacting with others or is experiencing a conflict, they are expected to generalize what they have learned. This assumes that the child is calm enough to have the capacity to reason, the discrimination skills to recognize what type of situation they are in and how others are reacting to them, and the planning skills to quickly formulate an appropriate response. These are all cognitive skills that have been identified as markedly underdeveloped in behaviorally-challenged children.
The Social Navigator is a unique assistive technology tool because it addresses these cognitive deficits by allowing people to enter the dynamics of the current social situation. It then provides the user with tailored strategies and suggestions in real time. These outputs provide a framework for the child to develop a plan of action and assists in getting their needs met in a socially acceptable manner.
The app isn't just for the kids. "Parents and educators put their faith in books, specialized programs, and professional training," said Ms. Millan. "The real challenge comes when they have to apply what they have learned in the moment. It's also hard for the adults to manage their own emotions, remember relevant information, and execute a plan. That's the beauty of the app. It acts as a guided reference for both the adult and the child, and it allows them to put the skills into practice during real situations."
The Social Navigator app is available on Apple’s App Store and is compatible with iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch devices worldwide. Social Navigator software is produced by Seven Minds, LLC and is licensed by educators and parents on three continents. More information about the app is available at http://www.socialnavigatorapp.com.