Bottom Line: My 10-year old son's favorite app. Actually BrainPop is probably his favorite thing in the world. A terrific free app that is a must-download if you have school-age children. We pay $6.99 per month, and are grateful to do it, for the full subscription.
My 10-year old son with autism uses a mechanism known as echolalia for various purposes. (Think Dustin Hoffman in the Rain Man reciting The People's Court intro over and over.)
Ryan does it to comfort himself like a blanket. When he was younger, he would recite Sesame Street, or a section from a book, or something else that he loved.
I'd know you anywhere...
For a long time, completely-out-of-context echolalia was 95 percent of what Ryan would say.
As he got older, though, he started to learn how to use echolalia in appropriate ways. He'd take bits and pieces of things he had memorized and use them in conversation. It was finally him, conversing, but he needed the framework of a similar conversation, that he had seen repetitively, to work through it.
So what does this have to do with BrainPop?
BrainPop.com immediately became one of Ryan's favorite web sites. He loves to learn from videos. With an instructor he has trouble concentrating and paying attention, but show him an educational video he likes and he focuses like a laser.
BrainPop's videos are short animated ones, more than 750 of them, on a large number of topics. The videos are very nicely done, don't feel "school-boring" (they involve a teenager named Tim and his robot friend Moby) and offer a great deal of educational value. The words for important names and terms appear on the screen during their explanation.
I really like that the developers have given Tim a youthful, sort-of-obnoxious sense of humor. In a video about Jane Goodall, Tim and Moby are watching some chimpanzees and Tim says "I don't know. They're kind of creepy. They're so much like...people." Moby talks through a series of beeps that only Tim can understand. (It's sort of like he has a communication issue.)
BrainPop Featured Movie, the free app, presents a featured animated video per day and then offers a quiz regarding the material. On the day I completed this review the current featured movie was "Ecosystems" which provides a terrific explanation of the basics on how animals, plants, and the blazing sun coexist in the desert. The videos are fun and short, and the quizzes are 10 multiple-choice questions based on the material just viewed.
There are in-app subscriptions: $1.99 for four related videos with each daily one and $6.99 per month for access to all videos. We have the $6.99 subscription and have, appreciatively, paid the monthly for quite some time.
So, back to Ryan. He loves BrainPop. Loves. Tim and Moby are like his two best friends. He watches the videos on his computer and iPad.
And the interaction between Tim and Moby, and the things that he has learned, have become the prime source for his current, much-more appropriate use of echolalia. They have become his communication models.
There is a video called "Heart" in which, after a terrific explanation of how the heart actually works, Moby gives Tim a note:
So what did I find on my desk last week?
I am, as gladfully as I can express, Tim to my son Ryan's Moby.
If you would like to download BrainPop please use the links provided. The cost is the same, but Smart Apps receives a small percentage. Thanks for your support!