Games with Purpose 2: Smack That Gugl and pin down visual discrimination and focused attention

There are thousands upon thousands of game apps in the App Store and the Android Market.  A lot of these games are so engaging, it’s literally difficult to pry your iDevice out of your little one’s hands.  We all know how crucial it is to sit down and guide our kids in using these gadgets and not make these become replacement babysitters, but we also know that many games can be used at therapy.  Given the right game and the appropriate set of goals, a mediated session with an iPad or iPod Touch can be just as fun as doing free play on the device.  Want to work on prepositions? Your kid will love you for using Angry Birds and you get to work on on, under, in, beside, etc.  Want to work on increasing vocal intensity? The app Ah Up! (now $0.99 in the App Store) just might make little voices go loud without them realizing it.

Smack That Gugl is one game that can be used with a lot of purpose in the therapy room.  These little green blobs rise up from the screen, inviting the player to smash, squish, and smack them flat.  Of course, there are rules:  One can’t squish all the blobs.  Make sure your kid knows that:

  • each Gugl must be squashed before it turns red, or else one loses a life (or a turn, if you’re using the app in a dyad or group session)
  • smash the yellow and red ones twice to really deactivate them
  • don’t whack the chickenpox Gugl! Do it and lose a turn or life
  • blue and yellow Gugls split into two.  If one isn’t fast enough, they can multiply fast and turn red
  • if five red Gugls are unsmashed, they take over the screen and the game is lost

Excitement and the competitive spirit can easily highjack anybody’s visual discrimination skills and attention to detail.  For as long as your kid knows the rules (and learns from his mistakes), this game can help him slow down a bit and process each Gugl visually before he makes an action.

Smack That Gugl is currently FREE at the App Store! Try it out yourself (and go Pro Mode), and enjoy the game’s 3D rendering, cool background music and sound effects, and overall engaging gameplay.

Games with Purpose 1: Boost vocal intensity with Ah Up app, now FREE at the App Store

Another great addition to our list of free apps for Better Speech and Hearing Month (or Better Hearing and Speech Month, whichever you prefer)! It’s not every day that we get an app that can be used for voice activities, but today is apparently a special day: Ah Up has gone FREE!

The app itself is pretty straightforward: Have your little client produce an “ah” loud enough to launch the little quirky rocket off the bottom of your iDevice’s screen. Sustain the “ah” for as long as possible to make the rocket soar to greater heights. Tilt the device oh so slightly to make the rocket avoid flying into birds. Every time a specific height is reached, it marks that height with a line to indicate that the user may want to surpass previously set “ah” records.

It’s usually a good idea to moisten those little vocal folds and take a deep breath before starting. And knowing how competitive kids are, using this app as a game may end up making them shout. Remind them that shouting won’t make them astronauts.

Hit that download button and make that rocket fly!

SmallTalk Apps (all 13 of them) are now FREE at the App Store

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month!  For this month, we have thirteen reasons to celebrate: Lingraphica (the makers of SmallTalk Aphasia and SmallTalk Dysphagia), appears to have posted several of their apps for FREE downloading at the App Store.  We don’t know until when they’ll be free, and we can only but assume it’s for this year’s BHSM.  Nonetheless, now is a good time to grab these apps and see how useful these can be for our clients with autism and apraxia:

Many of the SmallTalk apps have been by default free, such as the SmallTalk Aphasia and SmallTalk Oral Motor Exercises.

Several of these apps contain flashcards (navigated through either by scrolling up and down or if the device is held in landscape form, as Cover Flow).  A number of them, such as the SmallTalk Consonant Blends and Oral Motor Exercises, have video clips illustrating lingual and labial movements needed for various speech activities.  All of them play back voice clips of each selected flashcard/video, making the entire collection functional as an alternative mode of communication.

According to Lois Jean Brady, CCC-SLP of Pro-Active Speech in California she has used the SmallTalk apps successfully with children on the autism spectrum. She was, as we quote from Advance Newsmagazines, said to have observed, “I have recently had the opportunity to use SmallTalk apps, from Lingraphica, with my students on the spectrum (with and without apraxia). I was amazed at how ideal these apps are for students with autism. They are the perfect visual tool. Students with autism will imitate behaviors from a video more easily than from face-to-face instruction. Video modeling also gives the students the freedom to watch over and over again until the skill is mastered, leading to the acquisition of complex verbal skills. I would recommend the SmallTalk apps to anyone working with students on the spectrum.” [from Advance Newsmagazines, see article here]

The chief executive officer of Lingraphica, Andrew Gomory, had also expressed that “Together, the Lingraphica speech-generating device and the SmallTalk family of apps provide a comprehensive and portable system for stroke survivors.”  [from Advance Newsmagazines, see article here]