Stories of the here and now;All ages;Special needs;Books

3rd April 1998 at 01:00
SPEAKING FOR MYSELF. Topologika software in co-operation with the Down's Syndrome Association Single user pound;45 + VATFor ACORN, RISC OS and PC.

Speaking for Myself is designed to promote early language and literacy skills in children with Down's Syndrome, and can be used at school or at home.

There are four sections - on-screen "flashcards" that talk and write, "everyday stories about everyday things", using two or three words a page, talking nursery rhymes, and "diversions", additional activities to establish and reinforce basic skills.

The flashcards are clear, and will speak the word and spell it. Rebus symbols are permanently displayed, and the Makaton sign is demonstrated on request. The two or three-word stories pull off the difficult trick of creating interest out of very simple material, while the diversions introduce more advanced matching and language skills, such as prepositions and right and left, and provide practicein using the mouse. The nursery rhymes have good animation, and will help children notice details.

Overall, this disc is a useful addition to the resources which have been developed since the pioneering work of the Sarah Duffen Centre in the early 1980s.

However, some of the activities will be too difficultfor many children, and the disc needs to be used in the contextof a carefully designed programme of speech and language development.

John Bald is a literary and language specialist

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