On week two of Aphasia Awareness Month, we'll look at two apps that can be used to explore semantic networks. These apps provide powerful visual aids for working with synonyms and semantic features.
Popplet is a universal iOS app ($4.99, free Lite version) that allows you to easily create word webs by generating and connecting "popples": boxes that can contain drawings, text or photos. Brainstorm synonyms for a word, list associates for an abstract concept, or use the semantic feature analysis technique for naming deficits at the level of the lemma. Here are a verb semantic feature analysis network (Wambaugh & Ferguson, 2007) and a semantic associate map for an abstract concept (Kiran et al., 2009) made with Popplet:
Popplet creations can be saved or emailed as PDF or JPEG for printing. This app also makes it easy to create family trees, a very useful tool to augment communication for clients with aphasia. Create the tree, save the image, and then insert it into a photo book app like the one I'll discuss next week.
For pre-made webs of synonyms, check out the Wordflex Touch Dictionary app (iPad only for $11.99). Look up any word, then explore the various parts of speech, phrases it is used in, multiple meanings, and derivatives. Many words also have pronunciation notes and sound files. Those with word-finding difficulties may find the word they're looking for by exploring the webs of related words. Students working on using more colorful vocabulary can benefit as well: look up "thing" or another generic term to find a plethora of suitable substitutes. It takes up nearly 2 GB of space, so make sure you have room for it before downloading.
If If neither of these apps meets your needs, remember there are semantic feature and phonological component questions built around over 450 pictures in Naming TherAppy (universal iOS with free trial) for circumlocution as discussed in February.