iOS game teaches mathematics to children with Down’s SyndromeBy Enabling Play
Cara and Will Jessop always loved playing with their brother Tommy, who has Down’s syndrome. “He was always a pretty good learner, with a fantastic mind for curious facts and ludicrous jokes,” remembers Cara. “But maths was one of the last things to click and we noticed how this impacted on his independence right up to his late twenties.”
There are approximately 12,000 children with Down’s syndrome in the UK, a genetic condition that comes with an associated learning disability which can make learning numbers and mathematical principles especially difficult.
One specific mathematical concept called ‘magnitude’ – whether something is ‘more’ or ‘less’ than something else – is a fundamental requirement for grasping more complex ideas. New research suggests that children with Down’s Syndrome develop their magnitude sense more slowly than typically developing children, and this may impact on their later maths abilities.
Tommy inspired Cara and Will to establish a games design studio for developing learning games to help children with Down’s syndrome understand mathematics. Their first effort is called Millie Moreorless and allows players to explore a beautiful alien world with the central character Millie.
As Millie comes across obstacles made of blocks, players must choose between two circles with numbers of dots on them. If they choose the circle with fewer dots, blocks in Millie’s path will be removed. If, on the other hand, Millie needs more blocks to fill a pit, players can choose the circle with more dots and more blocks will be added.
The game was launched on World Down’s Syndrome Day on 21 March and has already helped a number of children with Down’s syndrome like Tommy work on their magnitude awareness.
Will and Cara continue to hold workshops with young volunteers who have learning difficulties, to help them improve Millie Moreorless and develop more games. If you’d like to be involved in co-designing new games with them, they’d love to hear from you! Find out more at www.enablingplay.co.uk/co-design
Image courtesy of Millie Moreorless
Last updated: 22nd of August, 2016