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For Colin, on His Viral Eleventh Birthday

Shannon Des Roches Rosa  www.squidalicious.com By now you’ve probably heard of the Happy Birthday Colin effort, in which a socially isolated (though not autistic) boy’s mom created a Facebook page to cheer him up for his eleventh birthday — and the page went viral, with nearly 2 million Likes as of this writing. Colin’s mom writes: “I am Colin’s mom, I created this page for my amazing, wonderful, challenging son who is about to turn 11 on March 9th. Because of Colin’s disabilities, social skills are not easy for him, and he often acts out in school, and the other kids don’t like him. So when I asked him if he wanted a party for his birthday, he said there wasn’t a point because he has no friends. He eats lunch alone in the office everyday because no one will let him sit with them, and rather than force someone…

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How Apps Can Support Social Skills

Shannon Des Roches Rosa www.squidalicious.com www.blogher.com Sometimes I think social skills apps are redundant, since iPads are themselves such social magnets. These tablets can motivate people of all abilities to interact, and give them a common ground for communicating. But as social skills are multi-faceted, and since different folks need support in specific areas, I am grateful for the variety of apps that allow me to turn my son Leo’s iPad into a custom social skills springboard. Leo doesn’t always use apps developed specifically for fostering social skills. Instead, he relies more on apps created for communication and labeling purposes. Leo has a strong social urge, but he’s often overwhelmed by the factors involved — simultaneously processing names, body language, and words. He appreciates apps that simplify the socialization process, streamline his choices, or help him learn to identify people consistently. Leo needs practice and options for learning to recognize…