Stories About Me App

Last night I tried out  Stories About Me. a new app  aimed at writing Social Stories with children with autism which was released  earlier this week.. The app is described as follows:

Stories About Me allows parents and teachers to create their own social stories for their children and students. Blending photos, text, and voice recordings into a talking picture book, children can playback rich media stories of their own personal experiences.
Swiping advances the pages and tapping plays the audio; simple as that!
Creating, editing, and ordering stories is easy and simple. Sharing stories and backing them up is made possible with Dropbox integration. Parental lock feature prevents accidental edits or deletions.

In the past I have successfully used PC based software like Clicker and 2Create a Story to create similar electronic books. I have found that the multi modal combination – text, sound and relevant image-  has helped with language acquisition for Dylan (8), one of my autistic children.

I have written in the past on how the use of such techniques has caused Dylan both to laugh, engage with and remember the contents of the digital texts. He would often request the story to be played again and gradually over time he would use some of the vocabulary from the text in everyday speech.This is not the behaviour reflection approach of social story making, which is what this app is aimed at. Just the presentation of meaningful and relevant images and voices which  can be very powerful for a child with communication difficulties. And this is what the app allows you to do very easily.

To test this app  though I worked with Dylan’s younger brother, Leo, who has milder autism. Leo has language, but his autism and genetic disorder manifests itself in terms of motor difficulties and processing skills. He can read fluently and has a great memory for meaningless trivia like bus routes. Despite this he does not see himself as a writer. Perhaps because conventionally it is all about the pencil and paper!

An app like Stories About Me helps with this as together we could write a meaningful story.  Leo and I chose the pictures from the camera roll of his brother’s birthday, between us we then  typed the text. After which Leo read and recorded the speech.
Soon we had an attractive book which Leo could read to his mum, or allow the app to read it back to her by clicking on the image.We did this at story time last night, hence the rather bad lighting in this short clip.

There are other apps that do this, such as Our Story by the OU,  but what gives Stories About Me an edge is both the simplistic interface and integration with Dropbox meaning you can create and store a larger amount of stories. I would still like someone to crack the sharing/ export feature  for apps like these though. I would love for Leo to create a story with the app and send a readable version to his teacher or other family member, who may not have an appropriate app available to view the story, other than a browser.  Currently we could do this on a PC by using 2Create a Story and exporting the finished work as a Flash file. But of course that would not be viewable on Ipad. More on this app in the weeks to come when more of my children are introduced to it.

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