I love that quote because it is so true. I wanted to share a story that could help give families a better perspective of what life is like for families who have kids with autism.
Almost 3 years ago, we received a phone call at one am from a police officer. He asked us if we had a little red haired girl. My heart immediately sank into my feet. Addison, my oldest daughter with autism, had left the house in the middle of the night. My wife and I panicked. We jumped straight out of the bed and went to Addy’s room. When we got to her room, we had found her door lock and door alarm dismantled on the floor. Next, we ran to the door to meet the police. In our driveway was our worst fear, the lights of four police cars an ambulance, and a fire truck.
Since Addison was little, she was often prone to wandering. We had taken every precaution available to prevent that from happening. We had window alarms, locks on the doors; we even had a motion light installed in our hallway. That night; none of those precautions helped.
When we met the policemen, he explained to us that a neighbor down the street had gotten up to let their dogs out and saw Addy walking down the road. They knew something was “wrong” with her and that she shouldn’t be out. They tried to get Addy to stop and come inside but she panicked and took off running.
When the police found Addy, they assumed that she was either sick or that she had gotten into some medication that was causing her odd behaviors. Kids with autism often have trouble communicating. Autism is a neurological disorder that effects 1 in 50 kids. Kids with autism may have trouble talking, looking people in the eye, and can get upset by loud noises or bright lights. Because of Addison’s autism she is mostly non-verbal. At that time she had less than ten words that she could use appropriately. She wasn’t telling the police anything because she couldn’t.
One of the officers noticed that Addison had an iPhone in her hand. She was walking down the street playing a game on her IOS device. He was able to convince her to let him hold it. He scrolled through the contacts and began calling numbers until he found us. He told me that Addison was safe. Before he could give her back to us, he had to come and make sure that the house was safe. One of the EMTs knew Addison. His mom was an assistant in Addison’s special needs class. He informed the police that she had autism. They called Addison’s doctors at UMC to confirm that she had autism. The UMC doctors knew Addison well and recommended that she be returned to us as soon as possible.
Sadly, kids with autism wander all the time. We were lucky and blessed that Addison came back to us. Since this story she has wandered two more times. Each time she was seeking out water. Each time we were lucky enough to find her. She has not wandered in over a year. She is about to turn eleven now. Her favorite activities include swimming and playing on her iPad. My wife and I wanted to find the positive in this story and we found it in a big way. Since Addison took her iOS device with her that night we knew that she was fond of it. When you have a child with autism take an interest in something, as a parent, you have to run with it. We started working one on one with Addison each night on her iPad to help her learn to use the device to communicate. Now she uses her iPad to show us things she wants, or places she would like to go. She uses it to practice handwriting and even counting. However, it’s not just used for work. I could guide her through an app but I started to watch and wonder what would she play when I wasn’t working with her. I started to watch and see what Addison would play on her own. She would often pull out her iPad and immediately open Toca Boca’s Toca Hair Salon. She enjoyed cutting the characters hair and drying it with the dryer. I noticed that the apps are easy for her to just open, and then begin playing. She loves cooking in Toca Kitchen and making music with Toca Band. The TOCA BOCA apps even started to carry over into what both of my kids with autism could do on their own. One afternoon my son and Addison had setup up their own Tea Party on the dining room table. As a parent we are happy that we have a found a way to engage our kids with iPads. We are also grateful for apps like the ones from Toca Boca that entertain and teach our kids at the same time.
Toby Price is a special needs dad and Assistant Principal at Richland Upper Elementary in Richland Mississippi. He has been married for 12 years to his wife Leah. He has 3 wonderful kids Addison, McKade, and Marley Kate.
Our most longed for launch finally got off the ground this past Thursday. The follow-up to the immensely popular Toca Hair Salon – completely re-made with new characters, new accessories, new features and new tools – is now out. Introducing: Toca Hair Salon 2.
Ever since we made the prequel, we’ve had loads of requests for a curling iron. A completely reasonable request given the context of the toy of course, but not as easy to solve as maybe we had hoped. The way we had made the hair created problems for hair curling, and even if we tried it a few times, it just didn’t come out right. So we went back to the drawing board and decided to make a completely new version from scratch. That is what you see today. A much more fluid, detailed and precise hair cutting experience. It’s hard to explain – you should just try it. You’ll make hair styles that you never thought were possible. May I suggest starting with some curls perhaps?
This toy was made by the following, fantastic team:
So you loved Toca Hair Salon – but you wanted more. More features, more tools (especially a curling iron!), more hairstyling fun. After months of work, we’re really excited to present … Toca Hair Salon 2! Out December 13 on the App Store. Get it during the first week and save 66% (launch price $0.99)!
Just in time for the holidays, we have a little gift for you. Today we’re releasing Toca Tailor Fairy Tales! A fairy tale themed version of our popular creative app, Toca Tailor. And guess what the best part is? It’s FREE! Take a look at the trailer below to get a feeling of what it’s like.
We hope that you’ll have loads of fun with this new toy, and we’re looking forward to seeing all your creativity on #tocatailor and Tocatailor.com! Now rush off to the App Store and get it straight away!
Our team for this digital toy was:
Amanda Rösler – Playsmith
Emil Ovemar – Producer
Erik Wahlgren – Play Designer
Mathilda Engman – Art Director
Over the last few months, we’ve been trying to work out how we could improve certain parts of our communication with you, and how we can learn from our toys. It is a complicated matter of course, but we’ve been taking it slow. We have done surveys in our user community to find out what you like and don’t like, and we’ve been working with industry experts to make sure that we got everything right.
What we wanted to do was give ourselves the possibility to:
Learn from our own apps. What works and what doesn’t? Which characters are popular? How often are people playing? Questions like that. This way we can learn more about the apps and use that knowledge to make even better ones. It is completely anonymized and we don’t collect any email adresses or other personal information by doing so.
Understand which parts of our advertising that work. If we spend $10 on five different advertising networks and 10 people download the app, we still can’t see which of the five advertising networks that actually made that happen. This means we waste a lot of money on ads that don’t work. And we all know how we feel about ads that aren’t relevant.
Offer more ways to communicate. We have many Facebook fans, followers on Twitter and subscribers to our newsletter. Still we have many parents saying that they didn’t know that we had released a new app. So we’re trying to add more ways of communicating so that you can choose whatever way suits you best.
In order to try to address the abovementioned issues, we’re making a few changes. In simple terms, the following things will change and will be visible in new apps and future updates:
We have changed the user experience of Toca News. TheToca News icon is our way of highlighting our other toys and is located in the lower right corner of each app’s menu screen. It is now harder for your kids to access content outside the app. If you don’t want it at all, you can always turn it off in the Settings app on your device – just like before.
We have added the option of receiving push notifications from us. In our survey, many of you said that you would appreciate receiving information from us in this way. Push notifications are of course completely voluntary. And even if you said yes at first, you can always turn it off again by going to your Settings app, and then choosing Notifications. There you can turn notifications on and off for every app on your device.
If you have any thoughts, questions or concerns – please send me an email or write a comment below. Your feedback is important to us!
That is it for this time! We’re continuously trying to find new ways to talk with you and new cool ways to make better apps. We’ll keep you posted as we go along!
How can we use the iPhone or iPad to help kids to have fun with design and craft? That was one of the questions we asked ourselves when we started to make Toca Tailor. Using the device camera, we could create a mini super-power where you can play with colors, shapes – and even textures! It creates endless fun possibilities and fits will with the theme of a tailor – fine craftsmanship and creativity in an elegant combination.
All right everyone – time to stop what you’re doing and get on over to the App Store, because right now you can buy every single Toca Boca app for just $0.99. (Except, of course, for the ones that are already free!) The sale will end on October 25 at 23.59 PST, so hurry over – this offer is just too good to miss!
Don’t miss your chance to get one of our top apps!
Toca Hair Salon, one of our top-selling digital toys, is a great way to let your kids run their very own hair salon! In this easy-to-use, creative app, you get to cut, color and style six different customers, using your fingers – and, of course, your imagination. Right now we’re giving away Toca Hair Salon for FREE, so if you haven’t got it yet, here’s your chance! Don’t wait too long, though – the offer is valid October 18-25, 2012.
Hey everyone – get ready for a great dress up party! With our upcoming release Toca Tailor, you get the chance to try your hand at designing your own clothes for four different characters, and then styling them with a load of fun accessories. Check out the game play trailer here!
Toca Tailor will be available on App Store on October 25th.
Enjoying Toca Band? For those of you who just can’t get enough of Stikk Figga and the rest of the bunch, we’ve put together some fun stuff – shall we call it bonus material? – to print out and get busy with:
Cut them out and carry the band around in your pocket! Play tip: print out two copies and you have your own Toca Boca memory game!
Download here: Collectors cards printout (pdf)
Does Wao Miao look better in green? Or stripes? Time to get out those crayons and find out!
Download here: Colouring pages (pdf)
Toca Band poster
Every great band has to have a cool poster – and Toca Band is no exception!
Download here: Poster (click to open, then right-click to save image to your computer)
Toca Band characters
Here they are – all 16 of them!
Download here: Characters (click to open, then right-click to save image to your computer)
Toca Band is now rocking App Store! In this musical app, our lovable rapper Stikk Figga and the rest of the 16-man band can be placed on differents areas of the stage in order to create endless combinations of rhythms, beats and tunes.
You can also play each character in solo mode. Downtempo or upbeat, rock or opera – it’s all up to you how you want Toca Band’s hit song to sound! Get it today at App Store – just $1.99.
Want to see more? Check out the game play trailer here.
Like the song? Get it (and the cool remix!) on iTunes and Spotify.
Play Designer: Jens Peter de Pedro
Art Director: Arvid Tappert & Emil Berner
Playsmiths: Jack Nutting, Erik Olsson & Andrey Zhukov
Producer: Emil Ovemar
Music: Håkan Lidbo
Animation: Martin Nyberg & Johan Sonestedt
Toca Band requires iOS 5, which means that if you’re on iOS 4 you’ll need to upgrade to be able to download it.
Why should I upgrade?
Besides being able to install Toca Band, your device will be more compatible with existing and future software. If you choose to activate iCloud, you can perform future updates and sync files without connecting to a computer – a wifi connection is all you need. Also, future updates will be much simpler and quicker, as you won’t need to connect your device to a computer anymore.
Can’t I just wait until iOS 6 is released on September 19?
Absolutely. However, until iOS 6 has been out for a few days, we can’t provide you with any instructions on how to update from iOS 4. If you want to be able to use Toca Band right away without having to worry about iOS 6 upgrade issues, we recommend that you upgrade to iOS 5 now.
HOW TO UPGRADE TO IOS 5
The actual upgrade process is usually very simple, but takes a little time, so make sure you’re not in a hurry. Follow these instructions if you’re using a computer that you’ve already synced your device with before:
1) IMPORTANT! Before upgrading: back up your device! This is an absolute must if you don’t want important information (contacts, text messages, game data) to be lost after upgrading. Here’s how to back up:
a) Connect your iOS device to a computer with the latest version of iTunes installed.
b) Select your iOS device in iTunes under Devices.
c) Right-click (or Control-click) the device and select Back Up.
2) Now locate your device in the left panel of iTunes and click on it. This will open up the Settings Panel on the right.
3) Click on the “Check for updates” button and choose “Download and Update”. iTunes will now automatically download the new iOS 5 software, upgrade your device and restore the data automatically. This will probably take some time – do NOT disconnect your device during the upgrade process. Just follow the instructions when prompted.
4) Once your device is successfully updated, it will restart. After that, you can safely eject it from iTunes.
Only nine days left until Toca Band is released – and we just discovered that one of the band members still doesn’t have a name! Do you and your kids want to help us out? Check out this little video to see how the character looks and sounds – then think hard and send your very best name suggestion.
E-mail your suggestion together with your postal address to email@example.com, with “Naming contest” in the subject line, latest Monday September 17th. The winning name will be presented here and on our Facebook page on the 19th. The winner will also receive a little Toca Boca goodiebag – so don’t forget to give us your postal address! If you’re under 16, please include your parents’ names and e-mail addresses.
Contest period: September 11-17, 2012. The winning name will be chosen by members of the Toca Boca staff, and presented on www.tocaboca.com and Toca Boca’s Facebook page on September 19, 2012. The winner will also be notified by e-mail. The decision of the judges is final and binding.Toca Boca reserves the right to use the winning character name in promotion material related to Toca Boca and Toca Band, including the Toca Band app description on App Store.
Edit: We’ve received so many good entries that we’ll need a little more time. We’ll be announcing the winner on Friday September 21st!