Tuesday, March 22, 2011

App Review - Dexteria

Dexteria is a new app released by Binary Labs for fine motor skill development which retails for $9.99. I have just finished testing this app for about a week now. This app includes three activities - Write It, Tap It and Pinch It. Progress on each of the activities can be tracked, reported and even emailed. The developers recommend that "for best results the exercises should be done on a regular basis in relatively short sessions. This will ensure the necessary practice to improve fine motor skills over time".

Write It is the handwriting activity where you can trace the lowercase letters of the alphabet. There are dots and arrows that guide your finger along to create the letters. You do have to form each letter without ever lifting your finger. I tested it using a finger to trace and using a stylus and both worked fine. The positive aspects of Write It is the clear picture of the letter and verbal directions. The negative aspects are that there are no upper case letters (although developer of App states this may be available in the future). In addition, the fact that you can not lift your finger to create each letter.

Tap It encourages finger isolation practice and motor timing. You have to keep your thumb on the green dot and touch the other dots as they appear. It has several levels that progress in difficulty. This was difficult for the children to follow as it got faster. It was also hard to keep their thumb in place and see the dots. They kept moving their thumb to see the dots. Definitely good to practice finger isolation but you may need to repeat levels before moving on the the faster levels.

According to the developers, the goal of Pinch It is to encourage fine motor manipulation and control. The crabs appear on the screen and you have to "pinch" them using the thumb and index finger to make them disappear. First the crabs are not moving on the screen and as the levels progress the crabs move. The children were able to pinch the crabs occasionally with tip to tip contact. Although many times they had to exert a lot of pressure onto the screen causing hyper-extension of the index finger tip. If you have any fingernails or larger hands, it is difficult to pinch the crab.

Overall, I am not too impressed with this app for the general public. The Write It portion is okay but there are better apps out there to practice handwriting. Tap It is interesting but not very engaging for children and at times difficult. With Pinch It, be sure to keep a close watch that there is not hyper extension at the distal joint.

For occupational therapists, the one huge benefit is the ability to track the child's progress - it instantly creates reports on how long it took the child to complete each level or write each letter. Depending upon the type of children that you work with, this app may be beneficial to use in short spurts.

You can watch a video of Dexteria in use at Apps for Children with Special Needs
For more information on the developers go to Dexteria.net
It is available in the app store.

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