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Speaking of Apps

Language Apps
August 25, 2014 12:16 PM by Ashley Brannon
Language Empires is one of the few comprehensive language apps that I have found. Although it's a little more out of your pocket than you might want to pay ($24.99), you might find that it is worth it in the end. With more than 400 questions targeting eight different language arts skills, this app is great for working with groups in a school setting or for individual use in private or outpatient treatment.

This app covers the following eight language targets: Vocabulary, Predicting, How, Figurative Language, Sequencing, Inferencing, Why, and Which.

 

 

 

 

This SmartyEars app is illustrated with pictures related to the Roman Empire. To begin, click on "Visit the City" where you can add students and create avatars for each. Each game type allows 1-5 players. In addition, each activity also includes multiple levels of play to keep your students progressing through their goals. Players can be placed in multiple empires for various learning targets in one game dependent on the goals for each student.

The questions for each activity are read aloud from the screen. Multiple-choice answers are provided however these are not read aloud. When the child answers a question correctly, they are given a gold coin to collect at the bottom of the screen. From my experience, this has been motivating for the students to keep them engaged. Students can also unlock trophies that relate to the theme that they are working on in the empire.

Another benefit of this app is the comprehensive data tracking. Visual data collection is provided at the end of each activity to provide visual feedback of the student's level and their progression towards that goal. This data can be emailed, printed or shared however I always keep in mind confidentiality measures.

 

Now, Language Empires has also been updated to include homework worksheets for each target in each level. These homework sheets can be shared at the end of each activity to further aid in carryover of the skill.

With so many great options, this app is one that I recommend you to check out.

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Practice, Practice, Practice
August 18, 2014 4:54 PM by Lynn LaValley

Whether it be children with articulation and phonological difficulties, or those diagnosed with childhood apraxia of speech, repetition is important.  Word FLiPS offers just this.

Word FLiPS allows one to three repetitions of sound sequences which you create. The SLP chooses words according to syllable structure: CV, CVC, CVC or custom, and combinations are grouped by articulatory placement: Bilabial, Alveolar, Velar and Palatal.  Furthermore, the SLP can also control if all words are accessed (including nonsense words), or only the suggested "real" words. Finally, sound combinations can be combined to create novel words such as "to-day."

I began by using this app with unintelligible children by having them repeat early sounds such as, "bow- bow- bow."  As identical sound combinations were mastered, more complex sound strings such as, "boo-too-moo" or "toe-neigh-dough" can be created. The SLP can choose to keep the consonant or vowel identical for practice.  (Audio models are provided for all syllables.)

 

The visuals presented offer some similarity to the Kaufman cards for those children who have been using them, and although we all love using them, tugging around two heavy boxes is not as convenient as toting the iPad. In our clients eyes, using the iPad is often seen as "play" and not "work," (which we all know not to be true) so they are often more engaged and willing to create multiple trials with Word FLiPS then when cards are presented. 

Although a bit pricy at $29.99, the flexibility and control the SLP has over sound combinations makes it worth it. Data tracking is available for each syllable production, or for the entire string. (Data can be graphed, emailed, printed, or shared with caregivers.) Furthermore, the student's production can be recorded and played back for review.

If you are looking for an app to provide multiple opportunities for practice and grow as the children progress, this is the app for you. 

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An App for Correct Verb Tense
August 11, 2014 9:21 AM by Ashley Brannon
Tense Builder is an app that has become one of my favorite apps for training correct verb tense.

So, what do you get for the $9.99 app? You receive 48 video lessons (with an expansion planned to increase to 58). You can select regular or irregular verbs and choose random or specific verbs to train from the list. Each verb is targeted in past, present, or future tense. Each of the verbs includes a video clip and lesson to train correct verb tense.  

For children who are on the spectrum, this is a great way to train verbs. The children get the benefit of using videos to see the verbs in motion rather than just looking at pictures. They are more engaged and I can see more possibility for generalization as well. I often provide training during the videos to show the progression of the verbs as they happen. The children I have used this app with have also enjoyed the humorous aspect portrayed in the clips.

There are two levels of difficulty to choose from:

Level 1: The child can watch the video clip for each verb selected and then select the picture that represents the part of the video that would identify the specific tense being targeted.

Level 2: The child can watch the video clip for the selected verb and then select the correct word or phrase that best completes a sentence using the appropriate verb tense as indicated. The words are spoken aloud as the child touches them so that the reading burden is reduced for younger children.

Following each video, the child will choose the correct picture or word/phrase that best shows the targeted verb tense. The child is then prompted to use the correct verb tense in an expressive task. This can be recorded for feedback as well.

Data collection is easily emailed or saved to the device. If you choose Stats in the app settings, you are brought to a screen where you have the option to email the stats or print them. This is a great tool for sharing data with parents and teachers. This app is very thorough in the ability to assess student's ability level with a goal as well as use as a teaching tool. In addition, you can use these videos to train basic story sequencing and answering simple questions.

If you are looking for a new way to work on verbs or other expressive language targets, you can't go wrong with this app.

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A Vocabulary App
August 4, 2014 2:39 PM by Lynn LaValley

PCS Memory is an app for the iPad addressing articulation and language skills. At the low cost of $4.99, this app is a must.  (There is a limited free version as well.)

The app allows its users to have exposure to vocabulary via categorization, articulation, language concepts such as adjectives, synonyms and antonyms, and pre-literacy skills (e.g. rhyming).   

There are numerous categories and sub-categories from which to choose including:

  • animals (zoo, farm, etc)
  • actions
  • food (desserts, snacks, fruits, vegetables)
  • holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Halloween)
  • school
  • places
  • states
  • jobs
  • instruments
  • vehicles
  • signs
  • clothing
  • body

Articulation boards have 60 PCS symbols per sound, separated into either 10 or 20 per sound for initial, medial and final positions. All sounds are included, as is vocalic /r/, prevocalic /r/, /s/, /l/, and /r/-blends. 

Rhyming words have 50 pairs of 3, 4, and 5 letter rhyming words with various vowel sounds including: o, u, y, a, and e. Some of the children used this app with for language or articulation have requested to earn the rhyming portion and make silly poems with words as they get matches. 

PCS Memory includes 100 symbols per synonyms, antonyms and adjectives. Quite often, I use the adjectives group to prompt expanded sentence formulation. As my patients match adjectives, they are required to create a sentence with that word. I use the same strategy with articulation as well (i.e. is the child's target is words in phrases or sentences, post a match, they are apply the word). 

 

A great feature of PCS Memory is its customizable board size that allows it to be used with children of all ages and abilities. The familiarity of the PCS pictures aides in its use with children with autism, developmental delay and other diagnoses. 

Although, we as therapists are always providing feedback to our patients, the auditory and visual feedback this provides is motivating for the kids we work with. Each time a match is had, "great job," "bravo," "you're amazing," or another positive praise phrase is provided. Also, intermittent reinforcement is given upon completion of a varied number of boards, with short funny animated videos being shown. 

I have yet to find a child who doesn't love to play this app, and being such a low cost, many parents have purchased it for home use as well. This summer, numerous parents have reported they purchased it to use while on vacation and love it!

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An App for Brain Injury/Stroke
July 28, 2014 8:00 AM by Ashley Brannon

BrainBaseline HD is a free app for iPad that is appropriate for adults working to improve cognitive abilities in the following areas: attention, executive function, speed of processing, and memory. The activities in each category set are similar to those used in testing conditions by neuropsychologists. Participants can monitor progress over time visually for each activity. They also compare their results to others by gender, age, education level, income range, and education.

This app is great to use for informal assessment measures and is an appropriate choice for speech therapists who are working with adults with history of brain injury or stroke to address these areas of deficit.This is meant for mild to moderate deficits for individuals who can manage coordinated motor skills to make selections on the device in a timely manner. There are 14 different activities included so you can't go wrong for the price. Remember, it's FREE.  For the Attention category, you may choose from the following tasks:  Blink, Posner, Trails, or Visual search.  When targeting Executive Function, you may choose to work on Digit-Symbol Substitution, Flanker task, Stroop, or Task Switch.  Individuals with weakness in Speed of Processing can use the Face Task and Speed activities. Lastly, participants may choose from Digit Span, N-Back, SPWM, and VSTM to target aspects of memory.

A brief description is provided for each task and indication of what skills each activity targets. In addition, each activity has a practice round to get the individual used to the timing and response requirements.

As a bonus, the newest HD version of the app can be connected to a FitBit device to track distance, steps, sleep/wake cycle, exercise and calories spent on a visual graph. This is meant to show how lifestyle and exercise patterns also impact brain function. You can use this function to set personal goals for distance, steps, sleep, exercise, and calories spent throughout the day. This is also charted on the app for visual representation once connected with your FitBit device.

If you are a clinician working with adults with cognitive deficits, you won't be disappointed with using this app. I find myself using it for informal evaluation, tracking progress during treatment, and for providing activities for patient home exercise programs.

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Tell Me A Story
July 21, 2014 9:36 AM by Lynn LaValley

Reading to our kids is great, and so is creating a story with them. This week, we will take a look at various apps that help us create our kids' stories.  I used to think we had to choose one, and be "loyal" to it, but my story has changed. Each app that is reviewed below offers something a little different, and my choices are made on which child I am working with.

Pictello ($18.99) creates visual stories and can be used for schedules.  Not only can real life photographs be used, but short video clips, and recorded sounds can be used. Furthermore, Pictello stories can be shared with Pictello Sharing Server. I have found this app easy to use not only for therapists, but for caregivers as well. With scrapbooking all the rave, many of my families have used this app as a real life scrap book so their child with complex communication needs can share a vacation, weekend, or birthday party. I have used this app as a schedule during my weekly cooking activity with children who I address ADLs with. Lastly, this app proved very useful for video modeling to modify behavior as a story was created, which demonstrated the sequence of events, and targeted appropriate behavior.

Toontastic is a great free app to address language skills. (Extra scenes and characters can be purchased for $.99-$1.99 more.) Kids love creating cartoons and telling stories, and forget they're working. This app teaches key storytelling principles by guiding its users through their story arc: setup, conflict, challenge, climax, and resolution. The plethora of settings and characters allows there to be something for everyone's interest. A personal favorite feature that Toontastic offers is the musical background. So often emotion and is left out of my kids' stories, but with this feature, they are able to convey the emotion of the scene. The importance of this to a story has led to quite a few discussions of how important the background music is to movie we watch. If Jaws (you can tell the time period I'm from) was sneaking up on someone in dead silence, the suspense wouldn't be nearly as great as with that memorable tune. As with Pictello, this app is also able to be shared, so it's "director" can gain recognition by family, friends, and teachers.   

  

StoryMaker is a free app (with upgrade purchases available for $4.99) with simple taste. This app allows you to make your own photo album (like Pictello), as well as cards and comic books (like ToonTastic).  Much like Toontastic, its uses includes addressing reading, sequencing, vocabulary, and following directions. The free version does not allow stories to be saved or shared, but upgrading does. Its two sections, Create Story, and Tell Story, are easy to use.  As with both Pictello and Toontastic, using your own voice and pictures are possible. A great feature of StoryMaker for our little artists that Pictello and Toontastic do not offer, is drawing your own visuals for the story. 

  

I'd love to hear your story of using these or story-based apps for language activities. Please share your comments and feedback. 

 

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Between the Lines
July 8, 2014 2:40 PM by Lynn LaValley

BTLines, a Hamaguchi App, explores social communication in various ways.  Although pricy, $15.99, its many levels allow it to be useful with an array of clients (Levels 1, 2 and Advanced).

Between the Lines is easy to play, and fun! The activities address: listening and facial expressions; body language and perspective taking; and expressions, idioms, and slang. Settings allow control over encouragement frequency, answer choices and reward game. Tracking progress is also available within this app.    

When pictures are presented, they are clear and most often against a plain white background to decrease visual distractions. I find some pictures to be too exaggerated and not natural, but clients haven't commented about them. The videos and auditory stimuli are able to be repeated if needed, which has come in handy with many individuals. 

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More High-Level Word Games
July 1, 2014 10:57 AM by Megan Sutton
Two weeks ago I shared four games covering categories and word searches that clients with word finding problems may enjoy. This week let's look at four more fun and therapeutic games focusing on semantic networks, compound words, and multiple meanings. Use these games in therapy sessions to teach strategies or as home practice to stimulate the brain.

Psychobabble is a free universal app that focuses on semantic networks. There is a helpful tutorial and a few free games to get you going, with more puzzle packs available for a few dollars. Start with one word, then try typing in words that go with it. Correct words will activate new nodes as the puzzle expands. This game can be very challenging, but unlimited hints are available to keep you moving through the free association cloud with a fun Freudian theme.  Save this game for your highest-level clients, or for yourself!

Chain of Thought is a free universal app with 75 free puzzles to work on word chaining. You're given a word like "jet" and you select the word from a field of 10 choices that makes a compound word or phrase, such as "pack." Then you find the word from the nine remaining options to go with "pack", which is "rat." Each puzzle has two five-word chains. There are a limited number of hints available if you get stuck, and the app can be set to easy, medium or hard difficulty. This is a great game for working on reading, semantics, flexible thought, non-literal language and impulsivity.

Get+Together is from the same developer as Chain of Thought, but provides a simpler way of working on compound words using pictures instead of text. While somewhat more child-focused with the design, this app can be used without offense by most adults as the answers require a strong vocabulary. Given a definition such as "aquatic animal with whiskers," the user selects the pictures of the cat and the fish from the eight choices. You can turn on the words to go with the pictures if you want to make it somewhat easier. This is a nice free universal app to discuss what words mean and how the resulting compound word is different from the two parts.

4 Pics 1 Word is a popular game that can be used in therapy to work on flexible thinking for multiple meanings. Given four pictures, you must spell the word suggested with the letters provided. Sometimes the pictures are variations of the same meaning, but often they depict different meanings or more abstract concepts and can get quite challenging. Hints are available but limited, each puzzle is of very different difficulty, and ads may get in the way (just play in airplane mode), but it's worth checking out this free universal app.

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High-Level Word Games
June 16, 2014 12:01 PM by Megan Sutton

Over the next two posts I'd like to share with you eight word game apps your higher-level clients with aphasia may enjoy playing to strengthen both their phonological and semantic systems for word retrieval and spelling.

Category Games:

Red Herring is a free universal app that focuses on categorization. Each puzzle has three levels of difficulty, so it's easy to learn with support and work up to more challenging levels. Group words together in three groups of four with an extra set of four words that serve as distractors. The easy level shows category headings and some of the members, while the hardest level requires users to deduce the categories. The app contains 50 free puzzles with extra packs available for $0.99. There are a few free hints, or you can buy unlimited hints for a few dollars more, which may be worthwhile for clients working independently at home.

94 Seconds is a free universal app similar to the game Scattergories -  users have to type in a category member that starts with a given letter. The game lasts just over a minute and a half, so speed of retrieval is important. There is also a "Relax" level to find words without the time constraints. Extra points are given for more obscure words and for streaks of 5 in a row. Hints are available and can be earned by playing or purchasing.

 

Word Search Games:

Spell Tower is an elegant word game for $1.99 for all Apple devices. Find words by connecting letters and watch the letters disappear. Clients working on simply finding words will enjoy playing, and those at a higher level will appreciate the strategy of finding longer words or clearing letters before they are stranded on the board. There are no ads or in-app purchases in this game.

Word Shaker HD is a universal app with a free version and $1.99 ad-free version. This game is similar to the game Boggle, showing a grid of letter (4x4 up to 8x8) for users to find words by connecting letters. Solo games can be played untimed, or with a 1, 3, 5, or 10-minute limit. Users can also challenge friends to head-to-head play.

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Aphasia Recovery Connection
May 27, 2014 1:47 PM by Megan Sutton

June is Aphasia Awareness Month, so once again I’ll be featuring apps and resources for aphasia this month to help bring attention to this under-acknowledged disorder.

Aphasia, or impaired language after stroke or brain injury, can be an extremely isolating disorder. When a person loses their ability to communicate in all or part, their social circle often shrinks quickly. If a person with aphasia lives in a remote or underserved area, they may have no access to other people with aphasia to learn from and relate to, leading them to feel even more alone with their condition. The Internet holds great potential for connecting people, but until recently, has not offered many resources beyond information about the disorder.

ARC, or the Aphasia Recovery Connection, is an amazing resource for people with aphasia, their loved ones, and speech-language professionals. ARC makes use of many social media channels, video conference technology, and live events to achieve their mission to help “end the isolation aphasia brings.” ARC was founded by two dynamic young people with aphasia, David Dow and Christine Huggins, with the support of their mothers, Carol Dow-Richards and Kim Huggins.

      

Most of the ARC action happens on the main Facebook group, where more than 2,200 people interact. There is also a Facebook group for caregivers and friends, as well as another for kids with aphasia and their parents. ARC organizes weekly video chats using Oovoo (a Skype-like group video chatting platform), video app demonstrations by an SLP student, and word games facilitated by SLPs. While being able to read and type is helpful, there are many aphasia-friendly videos posted to ARC. Members can use text-to-speech and speech-to-text technologies to aid participation as well. ARC maintains great collections of links on Pinterest, has many wonderful videos on YouTube, and has just joined Twitter to connect people in even more ways. All of these platforms can be accessed from apps on touch-screen devices or on desktop or laptop computers.

   

ARC has organized several large events, including conferences and cruises. I’m excited to be joining them next summer on a cruise to Alaska! These live events help people who have met online to connect in person, as well as engage people with aphasia who are unable to participate online. While the founders live in Nevada and Ohio, ARC members live around the world with many in Canada, the UK, and Australia.

The founders of ARC presented at the 2013 ASHA convention to share their experiences with SLPs in packed rooms, and will hopefully be in Orlando this year to do it again. They also frequently speak at aphasia centers around the country. Their work has rightfully earned them the 2013 RAISE award given out by the National Stroke Association. They are currently applying for non-profit status so they can continue their mission with the support they need.

 

As an SLP, I love being a part of ARC for two reasons. Reading the posts of people with aphasia and their caregivers has given me unique insight into the struggles and achievements they face at every point along their recovery. I can reply with advice, or simply watch as they support each other. The other reason I love ARC is to finally have an amazing resource to pass on to my clients who need support groups or ongoing practice during or after therapy. You can literally see the progress some members make in their writing skills as they write posts to communicate with other ARC members. No assigned paper homework could ever be so effective or motivating.

Join ARC if you want to be involved, but please let your clients with aphasia know about ARC so they can access this virtual support community that is very real and powerful.

2 comments »     
Soundable - Learn IPA the Fun Way
May 21, 2014 7:46 AM by Megan Sutton

Do you know the difference between /θ/ and /ð/? What about /æ/ and /aɪ/? Soundable is a new app that makes learning the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) fun.

Unlike other tile-based crossword games, Soundable uses sounds to build words instead of letters while friends challenge each other in word-making ability. Each tile is marked with an IPA symbol, and you can hear the sound when you touch it. If you're just getting started learning the IPA or are playing with someone who doesn't know IPA, you can flip to tiles with phonic spellings of each sound instead.

       

Soundable has many unique features that other games don't include. First, you can look up any word in the dictionary to see how it's transcribed. If a word isn't in the dictionary or transcribed the way you'd say it, play it anyway and "appeal" to let your opponent decide if it's valid. When you touch any tile on the board, you can see the words that were played in English orthography. You can choose to play either full games (all the tiles) or short games (a race to 200 points). Finally, you get 5 bonus points for each tile over three in the words you create, encouraging longer plays to keep the board open and fun.

I've learned a lot about English while developing and playing this game. You quickly realize there fewer sounds than letters in words, making the bonus points important to encourage playing longer words. Clusters are key to a high score in this game, so I've come to value /l, r, n, t/ in a whole new way. Differentiating between voiced and voiceless sounds is also very important to determine whether plurals are made with /s/ or /z/ and past tense created with /t/ or /d/. The /zh/ sound has become my worst enemy (unless I can play it on a triple sound square) so now I'm on the look-out for words like raj, beige, and luge. Non-speechie friends seem to disbelieve that stressed and unstressed "uh" and "er" are different, but those who have studied phonetics are well-acquainted with the stress-free life of the schwa.

The app is based on a standard North American accent, but of course there are many variations in pronunciation. The difference between /ɑ/ and /ɔ/ may not even exist in some regions, so using the Look-Up and Appeal become essential. If you have a UK or Australian accent, I'm sure you'll have to appeal nearly every play!

Soundable is a free, ad-supported app for iPhone, though you can play on your iPad too. It was developed by Tactus Therapy Solutions and LessonPix. Future updates will allow you to challenge random opponents and chat about your plays. For now, invite your friends, classmates, colleagues, and family to sound out words in this unique social crossword game.

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Charades Articulation
May 12, 2014 12:00 PM by Jeremy Legaspi
Charades Articulation, $2.99 for iOS, is another solid articulation app from Erik X. Raj. This time around it is a take on the classic game of charades. If you are a fan of the Ellen show you know that this type of game is all the rage right now. 

The game is easy to play and the best part it's really fun! Select the sound you want targeted, the position in the word, hit the start button-it is that easy! The children will be participating in generalization of the targeted sounds without even knowing it! Any seasoned SLP who has used charades as a therapy tool in the past knows its super useful to when trying to expand on a child's receptive and expressive language skills, so this is a good app for both articulation and language!

   

Charades Articulation is available on both the iPhone and iPad for $2.99.

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Top 5 Reasons Why Tablets Fail in Speech Therapy
May 5, 2014 7:59 AM by Megan Sutton

Maybe you've heard that tablets are a game-changer in speech therapy, that no SLP should be without a touch-screen device, or that clients make faster progress with tablet-based home programs. Those statements may be true, but for all the success stories, there will be people who have not had a positive experience. Here we'll look at five reasons why attempts to integrate a tablet into therapy may fail.

1. The wrong tablet

While most tablets are perfectly adequate for browsing the web, managing email, and other basic functions, not all tablets have access to the same apps for therapy. Apple's App Store has far and away the best selection of apps for speech therapy, which makes the Apple iPad tablet the best choice. Clinicians and clients who choose Android tablets, the Microsoft Surface, or other brands will almost certainly face some buyers remorse when they see an app they want that is only available for iOS.

For advice on how to select a tablet, re-visit this post from last March.

2. The wrong apps

Even after you spring for an Apple device, you still need to download the best apps. Some might be free, and others will cost money. Small budgets, and the misconception that apps should be free, prevent some SLPs and clients from downloading anything but free apps. A very creative clinician can likely repurpose inexpensive apps to meet therapy goals; however, for the most common and specialized speech therapy goals, there are many wonderful paid apps designed by SLPs that will instantly add efficiency and value to your routine. If clients are using apps outside your sessions, they will need apps that guide them through their practice without you. After spending hundreds on a device, it's worth a bit more to make sure it's optimized for therapy.

Look back through older posts on this blog for recommended apps to get you started.

3. Using apps the wrong way

If you expect to place the iPad in front of a client and see immediate results, think again. Clinicians can use apps to provide stimuli, take data, and provide biofeedback, but the skilled job of delivering therapy is still 100% human. Take advantage of the freedom you get from not flipping pages, selecting photo cards, and making tally marks. Use this freedom to spend more time selecting the right tasks, making more qualitative observations, and providing specific feedback to improve the communication behavior. If you're using apps and find you're not actively doing anything, you're probably using them wrong.

4. No Internet access

Many of the great features of tablets rely on an Internet connection: web browsing, email, video chats, translation, voice dictation, and social games, to name a few. Likewise, some therapy apps require a connection to log into a central server. If there is no Wi-Fi at your workplace, you may want to consider a data-enabled device and a data subscription plan. If the monthly expense of data isn't in the budget, or if you already have a Wi-Fi-only tablet, you will want to make sure the apps you use in therapy do not require connectivity. Also, be sure to have a plan around how you will download new apps and update existing ones.

5. Not enough training or support
 


Clients and clinicians alike need training and support to implement any new program. It's not enough to simply purchase a device and good apps, connect to the Internet, and expect to have a successful experience. All users need time to explore the device, learn to use each app and adjust any settings, and feel comfortable using the tablet. Even basic tablet operations such as charging, adjusting volume, and opening an app may be very challenging for clients with brain injuries, older users, or technophobes. Any SLP recommending an app for a client to use at home should plan for training time in sessions. Many clinicians and clients will have a tech-savvy colleague or family member, but for those who don't, lack of training could be the No. 1 reason why tablets go unused. Before buying or recommending purchase, make allowances for the time and resources required to get all users up and running comfortably.

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Speak Up For Parkinson's
April 21, 2014 11:08 AM by Megan Sutton

Biofeedback is an effective means of helping people to monitor and change their behaviors. Speak Up For Parkinson's is a free app for iPad that aims to help those with Parkinson's disease improve their speech. It provides biofeedback in the form of real-time volume monitoring and video review, and can also be used by those with other types of dysarthria, or even apraxia and aphasia.

  

Choose "Practice Your Speech" on the home screen to practice reading aloud or speaking. Select from two options: a randomized set of four phrases and sentences in "Words & Phrases", or use your own reading material or spontaneous speech in "Reading & Conversation". Both practice activities show a volume meter along the top of the app with a defined "Target Zone," along with a mirror image of the speaker. The goal is to speak loud enough to land in the Target Zone. 

 

The app records you with the front-facing video camera as you speak. When you are done speaking, you can watch your entire session. This feature is useful for raising awareness of closed mouth posture, articulatory undershooting, and masked facial expressions. Clinicians can add value to the app by asking clients to rate their performance on target goals while they watch the video playback.

This is a free app that will surely help many adults with hypokinetic dysarthria and other speech impairments practice at home. As always, there is some room for improvement should there be funding for future updates. The app is only available for iPads using iOS7. Ideally it would be a universal app and work on older operating systems to reach as many users as possible. I have experienced several crashes while using the app, so users who are easily put off by technical glitches may not enjoy using it. While there are several phrases and sentences in the app to practice, each session brings up four random selections. I would prefer to select which phrases and sentences appear, or at least repeat the same ones I had used before. It would also be very useful to be able to adjust the target zone.

In addition to the speaking practice, the app offers a few useful speaking tips  (maintain good posture, speak loudly, and breathe), information about the app's development, and info about the Northwest Parkinson's Foundation that funded the app. If you have an iPad running iOS7, download Speak Up For Parkinson's for free on the App Store.

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Where Has My Dog Gone?
April 14, 2014 7:47 AM by Jeremy Legaspi

                                                            

Where Has My Dog Gone is a fun free eight page story book app available for iPad. It's based on the classic song "Where Has My Dog Gone?". On each page of this book you can hear the familiar song sung while you interact with the dog and target 2-4 core vocabulary words. The words include a good selection of prepositions and verbs:

Out In Go Stop Up Down Above Below Run Behind Front On Off In Out Under Over Good Night

This app is great for work on prepositions or even with targeting core vocabulary with a child who uses AAC. The app has a simple interface and only requires the user to touch the flashing word to start the animations.

 

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