Best Toys for Autistic Children: the iPad with Hay Day App

Many children on the autism spectrum have found the Apple iPad to be one of the best gifts they have ever received. My daughter recently got one for her birthday. I believe that one of the best toys for autistic children is the iPad, specifically with the free app, Hay Day, installed.  Let me tell you about this wickedly addictive game and the life skills it can teach all children, including those with autism or other special needs.

First, a word of warning.  Hay Day is a free app, but be sure to set up the restrictions on your iPad so that in-app purchases aren’t allowed.  The game continually asks you to pay for things with diamonds, which can be purchased with your apple id or earned within the game.  You do not have to buy any diamonds to play this game, although the diamonds make it go faster.  I don’t allow any in-app purchases and I think that is best with this game for several reasons.  First, you will go through diamonds like water.  The slightest mistake in where you tap the iPad and suddenly you have paid for something with a diamond even if that was not your intention.  There is no Oops button to undo it.  Second, making your child earn what they need to play the game is part of the life skills benefit of it.  Your child will have to learn patience and how to work for what they want. If, however, your child becomes too frustrated, you can always buy them some diamonds. It’s your choice.

The basic premise of Hay Day is simple: You manage a farm. At the beginning levels, you just handle growing and harvesting some crops to sell in your roadside market. Then you get some animals and you have to make feed for them. Then you start adding factories to make things with your farm products, like cheese, bread, clothes, cakes, juices and basically all sorts of groceries. Each level allows you to add a different crop or make a new product or get a new kind of animal. At higher levels, you sell not only at your roadside stand or to customers who come to you door, but also to large steamboats that want whole crates of the same goods at once. At this point, it becomes essential that you call upon other farmers to help you. You do this by posting signs where you need help. Other farmers come to your site through a newspaper. When you put things out for sale on your roadside stand, you create an advertisement that goes into the paper. By clicking on the ad, others can come to your farm. They can buy things from you or help you fill your orders for your steamship.

The higher the level, the more complicated your farm becomes. You have to learn how to manage your crops and your factories, set prices, increase the size of your barn and silo, and earn plenty of money to pay for all this. Each thing you produce takes a specific amount of time. It takes only two minutes to grow wheat, but four minutes to grow corn. If you are going to make chicken feed, it takes two wheats and one corn. That works pretty well. But if you are going to make a cream pie, it takes three pumpkins (4 hours to grow), one egg (15 minutes, but you have to keep the chickens fed and their feed takes 5 minutes to make), and two wheats. Juggling all those different times so that you have the correct supplies at the right time is kind of tricky. But that’s exactly how life is. You have to plan ahead. In addition, at the higher levels, you have to work with others, an essential life skill taught here without any need for direct contact with others. Learning how to price items for sale so that people will come to your farm is important. So is knowing what to put up for sale in the first place. Most importantly, children learn that they must rely on others–which is good for all children to understand.

Got to stop writing now. My steamboat is coming in and I have to load the blue wooly hats, bread, and cream.

© 2013, Margaret. All rights reserved.