Friday, March 23, 2012

ST & Games: Cadoo by Cranium

Good old fashioned board games are excellent speech therapy tools. They can target many language and processing skills, they promote communiciation between players (unlike video games), and they add an element of FUN to the hard work of remediating speech and language deficits. Over the next few posts, I will be discussing a few of my favorites.

A good rule of thumb when using board game is to "adapt" the game to the child. Simplify game play or rules as needed. Quicken the pace of the game before they tire of it. Assist the child whenever necessary to ensure success. Do Not le...t the child win everytime (tread carefully here because the goal is fun but we do not want to create a monster that meltdowns as soon as someone else pulls ahead...little doses of reality sprinkled in sparingly...)

Cranium games are AWESOME! Cadoo is geared toward children aged 7+. I always recognized the language development connection but there is also value in this game for children with Autism spectrum disorders, especially high functioning Autism or Asperger's. These children often have diffiiculty with inflexible thinking, pretend play skills, sensory issues (clay sculpting), processing skills that require thinking outside of the box, etc. This game taps into social skills development in the simple interaction of game playing: turn taking, reading and understanding directions, reasoning strategies for winning, blocking the opponent, and the use of the sand timer (which you may need to play without at first) exercises the childs ability to work on a deadline (instead of being a perfectionist) and to deal with anxiety. The specific skills addressed with the card decks are addressed below.

Double Meanie cards: This task exercises flexibility in thinking by helping the child realize that a word can have more than one meaning.
Think of word that means both things:
   - The outside covering of a tree trunk.
   - The sound a dog makes.
The child uses red glasses to read the hidden answer: "Bark"

ACE OBSERVER:  Cards contain a close-up picture such as the #2 on a yellow pencil.  The child must tell what it is a part of. Although children with Autism disorders have stronger visual skills they often have difficulty with processing partial information; abstract ideas rather than concrete ideas and understanding inference.

CODE CRACKER: Another task for processing inference. Card contains a picture code such as an EYE + 2  Drinking GLASSES = "eye glasses".  This task can be difficult for a concrete thinker.
FAST FIND: Find 2 items within the minute: something shiny and something that starts with "C". Again a processing activity that requires quick thinking and looking around the environment and noticing specific items.
CAMEO: These cards require the player to act out (pretend / conceptual play) an item or activity. The child has to work to develop these skills so the other player can successfully guess and they also have the opportunity to observe the other players and learn how to clarify their own portrayals.

CLOODLE: Draw a picture for the other player to guess within one minute...use of the timer requires the child to move beyond the need of perfectionism (no time to erase and redraw). This may too difficult at first so may need to play without the timer. Drawing is also another task of conceptualizing something concrete (abstract representations through art).

SCULPTURADES: Using clay to form the object on the card. Once again, like Cloodle, a task of conceptualization. It also has a sensory processing component in handling the clay.

Playing this game with a child with a language disorder can be done with the game as a whole or you can pick specific cards to work on each skill at a time and then later combine the cards to work with changing requirements. For the children with Autism Disorders, I recommend addressing one skill at a time because each skill set will likely require much effort game play should always be fun and not overly effortful. If the child is learning while having fun, then the task is a success!

For more games on my favorites list go here.

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