Pamela DePalma’s son Daniel has Pamela DePalma’s son Daniel has Aspergers Syndrome. Like any parent she has made sacrifices to help her son. Like any parent she has made sacrifices to help her son. Seeking better services, she moved from Illinois to Phoenix, Arizona. While there, Pamela met child development specialist, Rhonda Whitaker, who worked with Daniel. Using Monopoly pieces, she created a game designed to teach social skills to older children with autism.
“I was excited about it because there’s not a lot of games for older kids with autism. As kids get older, the resources start to fall away,” said DePalma.
Daniel’s social skills were improving with the game and that is when DePalma and Whitaker decided to create their own game, based on the game Whitaker designed. They formed the company The Developmental Garden together and began selling “Give Me Five,” the board game, along with an app based on the game for iTunes.
With 8 different categories, the board game contains 240 cards. Taking turns, players listen to a scenario, determine what the characters are feeling, and then role-play various situations. Even children who are not on the autism spectrum are enjoying game this non-competitive game. Amy, Daniel’s seven year-old sister, says, “To be honest, I’m actually learning things from these cards.”
Videos of social situations are included on the app, which are incorporated into a game. Children on the spectrum can even play solo because it give them an opportunity to practice without the pressure of needing to interact.
“A lot of kids who struggle with social skills are attracted to gaming. At the same time, they’re learning social skills,” says Whitaker. Recalling how using the app improved one boy’s social skills, Whitaker said, “By the fourth time (of using the app), he was generalizing information that he learned, not just memorizing. It was super cool.”
Instead of telling strangers or other children when he felt sick, the boy learned to find the appropriate person who could help him in that situation, specifically his mother or grandmother.
To date, The Developmental Garden has sold approximately 80 apps and 50 units of the “Give me Five” board game. So far, two schools inArizonaand one school in theChicagoarea have purchased the game. Getting the board game into as many schools as possible is De Palma’s goal.
With the game and the app being a huge achievement, it’s only the start for the new company and DePalma and Whitaker. They are committed to providing parents and teachers with as many resources and tools as they can to help every child learn and grow.
“To provide resource tools to parents and professionals which nurture developmental prosperity through love, respect, and understanding of children,” is the company’s mission statement.
“Give me 5: What a wonderful social game for all ages! It targets most social-language concepts all in one interactive board game. Role-playing, non-verbal language, self-presentation, and much more! Finally. . . a well-rounded social language tool for teachers and therapists,” says Shanna Stoller, SLPA.
The Developmental Garden “Give me Five” game and apps. www.thedevelopmentalgarden.com.
For more information and resources, please visit http://blog.hear-our-voices.org/category/resources/