Saturday, February 9, 2013

iOS/Android App: Counting Dots

Counting Dots App
Counting Dots on iTunes ($0.99)
There's also a version for Androids on Google Play (same price)

What it is: It is described as a colorful counting game for kids. The colors are vibrant but crisp and clean (if nobody told me it was for children, I'd just think of the layout as modern). Popping sounds and vibrations can be shut off as well. The task is one of counting, where you can count by 1's, 5's or 10's, and you can start with any number you choose (so if you start with "5" and count by 5's you'll get 5, 10, 15, 20, etc, just like in the screen image below; and if you start with "2" and count by 5's you'll get 2, 7, 12, 17, etc.).

A player is presented with dots in various colors and sizes with numbers on them, and the task is to select them in ascending order. The game playing happens in levels of increasing number of dots. First you're given one dot. When you clear that (by selecting the one dot) you are given 2 dots. When you clear those, you are presented with 3, and so on.

The background colors and dot colors are different each turn. The dots overlap, but the correct answer is always visible (though sometimes hidden by the previous answer). The sizes vary randomly (so 80 may be tiny and 85 large; but all fully legible and selectable). If you touch the wrong dot it shakes for a split second, nothing else happens. So there's no error reporting, there's no scoring and as far as I can tell, there's no end.

How we can use it in Tx: I'd shut off sounds and vibrations in the settings, and set the difficult appropriately for each client. Here's my opinion of settings ranging from easiest to most complex given the parameters of this app:

1. Starting with 1 or any number, and counting by 1's (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.)
2. Counting by 10's, starting with 10 (10, 20, 30, 40, etc.)
3. Counting by 5's starting with 5 (5, 10, 15, 20, 25, etc.)
4. Counting by 10's starting with something other than 10, for example 3 (3, 13, 23, 33, etc.)
5. Counting by 5's starting with any number between 1 and 4, for example 2 (2, 7, 12, 17, etc.)

Using an iPad with its larger screen is probably best. Ask the patient to perform the task (select the dots in ascending order, with a greater number of dots presented each after the previous one is cleared). You can keep track of accuracy by counting errors (error stats, as I mention above, are not kept; but the incorrectly pressed dot does shake for a split second providing a quick but not distracting or discouraging visual of an error if a therapist is watching for it). Maybe stop the game either after a certain time limit (play it for 5 minutes, for example, and note how many levels have been achieved in that time) or after the pt seems to get stuck a lot (hits the wrong dot several turns in a row). Definitely try to stop before frustration sets in, but do try to get to a level that is challenging for your client.

Goals we can target with this app: Sequencing obviously, providing a range of difficulty levels for this task. Certainly math (on the simpler level, although you'd be surprised how challenging it can be to sort the dots in ascending order as you get into the higher numbers). Memory (STM, working-memory) are addressed: it is actually pretty challenging to remember where you are in the sequence once you've been playing for a while, especially with distraction of colors and sizes of the dots. Visual field neglect and scanning are incorporated as the dots are spread across the screen, and again, the colors and sizes can provide competing stim. And if there's competing stim, focus and attention play a role as well as direction following. I wouldn't spend too long on this task, but it's a nice 5 minute exercise that can address a number of goals.

Some specific examples (or in this case, rather, just notes):

1. If you are working on memory goals, then note the fluency with which the sequence is carried out. That is, to play this game smoothly the player must remember what number they are on. If, however, they forget, they can still carry the task out by scanning the screen and finding the smallest number to select. So it would be up to us to see which strategy is being used.

2. If you are working on visual neglect or scanning, note accuracy involving the weaker side compared to the stronger.

3. Patients with focus goals will probably be most distracted by size differences between the dots. You may also want to add another layer to the task, where if a smaller number has a larger circle your client must somehow acknowledge it (verbally, for example) which will provide a divided attention aspect to the exercise.

4. For a reasoning/problem-solving (and math) goal you could set up the starting number and intervals, and let the client start playing with the goal of figuring out what the sequence is counted by (1, 5, or 10). Difficulty levels for this type of exercise are similar to those listed above, although it is fairly limited in that respect.

No comments:

Post a Comment