App Review: BrainWorks
by: Abby Brayton-Chung, MS, OTR/L
BrainWorks is a new app developed for the iPad and iPhone by Sensational Brain was created to allow a child to take a sensory break by choosing activities appropriate for their current setting (home, school, community, desk) and for their current sensory system needs (Just Right, Slow & Sluggish, Fast & Stressed, Fast & Hyper).
The BrainWorks App has “blue guy” figures that allow a child to choose his or her current sensory system needs. The sensory activities are labeled using the colors of a stoplight to help children learn sensory modulation. Each activity is labeled with a colored arrow to indicate how it will affect the sensory system. A green arrow indicates an activity to get the sensory system going, a yellow arrow indicates a “just right” activity, and a red arrow indicates an activity to help the body slow down. These sensory system descriptors, as well as the tachometer on the “blue guy” images, align with other products by Sensational Brain, however the descriptors are very self explanatory and you do not need to be familiar with their line of products to use this app.
This app is appropriate for use in the home, community, or school, and can be used with children of all ages, although younger children will need more guidance from an adult. This app is appropriate for children with autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, and sensory processing disorder.
What I like about this app:
- Large number of sensory activities to choose from.
- The BrainWorks App is completely customizable – you can use the activities already programmed into the app, or you can add your own, complete with pictures.
- The activities within the app change according to the child’s location and what is available to the child in that setting.
- Allows an unlimited number of users to be programmed in, making it very useful for teachers with a classroom full of students, or very therapists with a variety of children on their caseload.
- This app is very visual. Not only does each activity have an image, you can also upload a photo for each user, allowing the child to quickly locate his or her sensory diet activities.
- Optional visual timer to provide structure and endpoint to sensory activities.
- Encourages children to become independent in identifying their sensory needs and taking sensory breaks.
- Includes a video for how to use the settings feature and customize the app. However, the BrainWorks App is very intuitive and you may not need to watch the video.
Room for improvement:
Currently, the default setting for each user includes all of the activities in the BrainWorks App. I feel that this may be an overwhelming number of activities for some children to choose from. The app is customizable and activities can be removed, but it is currently a slow process, as each activity is removed one at a time. Currently, there is no way to remove a large number of activities at once.
However, I contacted the developer of the BrainWorks App and changes are coming! In the first update (which will hopefully take place in mid-August), the default setting for each user will be blank. Activities can then be added for each user, rather than starting with a large number of activities and having to eliminate the activities that don’t apply for a particular user. This change will make the app much more user friendly.
Overall, I think the BrainWorks App is a great tool for therapists, teachers, and parents in setting up sensory diets for children. It is also a great tool to teach children about their sensory system and to encourage independence in sensory modulation, especially in children with limited expressive language, as it is a very visual tool.
BrainWorks App information:
Name of App: BrainWorks
Publisher: Sensational Brain (www.sensationalbrain.com)
Works with: iPad (iOS 4.3 or later), iPod touch (3rd or 4th generation), or iPhone (3GS, 4, or 4S)
Price: $11.99 available in the iTunes store
Disclosure: This app was received free of charge for review. However, all opinions expressed are entirely my own.
Featured Contributor: Abby Brayton-Chung, MS, OTR/L
Abby Brayton-Chung, MS, OTR/L is a pediatric occupational therapist in Southern California with five years of experience evaluating and treating children ages birth to eighteen. Her work experience includes school based practice, early intervention and feeding therapy. Abby blogs about her experiences as a pediatric occupational therapist at www.abbypediatricot.blogspot.
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