What’s in your iPad? Gaming apps that are therapy-worthy

And we’re back!  The school year here is about to end and we will be freed from our academic responsibilities for a few months.  To make up for our weeks of silence, we’re offering you a short list of gaming apps that almost always finds its way into our therapy activities.  Check out a few apps that simply refuse to leave our iPad:

  • PerfettoPerfetto by GoodAppl ($0.99):  This one is a bestseller among our bigger kids who love the simplicity of the task matched against immense time pressure.  Ever had one of these as a physical toy?  Quickly sort complicated shapes into their respective holes and beat the time.  Once the toy (or the app) hits 0 seconds, the toy/app “shakes,” throwing off all your pieces.  There goes all your hard work!
  • Lil Kitten Shopping CatLil’ Kitten Shopping Cart Game by PODD Corp. ($2.99):  Before you exclaim and say “$2.99!” let us tell you that this quirky app is perfect for visual attention, auditory memory, visual recall, even mental calculation, all bundled in the everyday life functionality of grocery shopping.  Momma Cat gives Lil’ Kitten grocery money and a shopping list.  Your task is to help Lil’ Kitten find and buy the items on the list.  Guide Lil’ Kitten to the correct aisles, have her push her cart down the shelves, look real hard for the item, AND choose which items are cheaper.  There even is a Sale shelf.  Up the difficulty by having your kid memorize the grocery list instead of consulting it every few seconds.  Watch Lil’ Kitten save up more and more change as she goes through each difficulty level.  We don’t know about you, but for us, this game app is SO worth it.
  • PlayHomeMy PlayHome by Shimoun Young ($3.99):  An SLP’s iPad must have at least one dollhouse app in it, and if there is, we hope it’s My PlayHome.  The characters and other items look hand-drawn and painted, with an overall look that is almost endearing.  Navigate through rooms in the house.  Drop a member of each family into any room you want.  Manipulate the curtains to open and close, feed Mom an apple, pour juice into a glass and put the glass in the sink, even have Dad bounce in the baby’s crib (not appropriate!).  Know what we mean?  Follow multi-step directions, divergent and convergent naming, language processing galore.
  • SorteeSortee by Flow Studio ($0.99):  Unbelievably priced at $0.99, this gaming app must have been designed for SLPs (maybe it was!).  Start at a level where there are two huge pipe openings on each side of the screen.  An object from afar (which is across the desert), floats fast towards you and you have but a a second or two to engage your visual recognition skills and swipe the object into its appropriate pipe (category).  More difficult levels utilize 4 pipe openings for you to swipe objects in.  If you see a cactus approaching, tap the screen with both fingers to vanquish it.
  • How It WOrksHow It Works:  Machines by Geek Kids, by Next is Great ($1.99):  For your curious machine-loving kids, this app allows one to look into everyday machines without tearing the actual ones apart.  The pieces are set apart on the screen, prompting the user to tap-drag each piece into the machine.  Assemble the car / vacuum cleaner / hair dryer, you’ve got yourself a working machine.  Whimsically drawn and easily manipulated, this is one of those apps that you’ll want to try out first before letting your young client use it.
  • Little ThingsLittle Things by KLICKTOCK ($2.99):  This is an iSpy-like game that, while perfect for older kids, can test even our own frustration tolerance levels.  Big figures are made up of tiny figures.  A list appears on the screen’s right side, prompting you to look for those items within the drawing.  This promises to hyper-engage anyone’s focused attention.

Tiny Dentist

  • Tiny Dentist by fantastoonic (FREE):  This app puts your young client on the OTHER side of the dentist’s chair.  Swipe across the patients’ faces to change clients.  Use a scaler, a drill, tweezers, even braces to remove and fill cavities, fix, whiten and beautify the teeth of several kid patients.  Guaranteed a bestseller among your kids, just lower down the volume when the scaler’s squeaking and drilling: it brings back memories of your own dental visits.
  • Phrasal Verbs MachinePhrasal Verbs Machine by Cambridge University Press (FREE):  This app is certainly for older kids or even adult clients.  Lovingly crafted into a virtual wooden case, the app quickly shows the user an animation, and then prompts the user to choose which one of the following 5 phrasal verbs matches the animation.

 

  • Endless AlphabetEndless Alphabet by Callaway Digital Arts, Inc. (FREE)  Ah, but this is not just any alphabet.  Download once, then redownload to get the rest of the letters and words.  Given a word (several times these are ‘big’ words), a bunch of monsters run across it to mess the letters up.  As you drag a letter onto its designated letter space, the letter cries out its phonemic sound over and over again.  Once you have put the word together (ex: word is “humorous), the app tells you the meaning of the word.

So there you have it!  Whether the app is paid or free, the fact is these are great therapy material, and can be used over and over again.  Check the App Store for more apps.  For all you know your target app had gone free recently 🙂

Work on semantic maps and mental representations using Category TherAppy

CT1 Happy 2013 everyone!

After two major holidays, two typhoons, and several visiting relatives, we have finally come up with a comprehensive review on Category TherAppy, another one of Tactus Therapy Solutions’ beautiful offerings.  As a fan of Tactus Therapy, the first thing we wondered about this (then) upcoming app was “What color theme would it be this time?”  Our next thought was “What would the app’s logo look like?” We were that excited.

With a stellar app lineup, we had high expectations of Category TherAppy, and its developers have definitely not disappointed us.  The homescreen shows the user four activities to choose from:

  • Find the category member
  • Categorize and sort the stimulus picture and/or word to its category
  • Exclude the picture and/or word that does not belong in the category implied
  • Add a picture and/or word that can belong in the category of pictures and/or words

CT2True to form, the app gives the user control on the level of difficulty of any activity selected.

  • Easy (Concrete): for basic categories such as body parts, buildings, clothing, containers, electronics, food, furniture, jobs, letters, musical instruments, plants, rooms, shapes, tools, weapons, etc. (23 in all)
  • Medium (Sub): for subcategories, like accessories, African animals, condiments, desserts, flowers, footwear, forest animals, insects, joints, parts of the face, pets, sea animals, etc. (24 in all)
  • Hard (Abstract):  for abstract categories, such as big things, cold things, hot things, kitchen items, liquids,things made of plastic, smelly things, special occasions, things found in nature, etc. (19 in all)

As with the developer’s previous apps, the rules are simple:  select the activity and the level of difficulty and the type of activity.  The next screen brings the user to a list of target categories from which one can tap the checkboxes to select, then press the right arrow.  The app asks a question and the user may touch the picture and/or word that he chooses as an answer. The choice will be outlined in green followed by a bell sound if the answer is correct.  Should the answer be incorrect, a buzzer sounds out, the picture and/or word will fade out and is boxed in red.  Correct answers are scored on the screen’s top right.  Incorrect answers are counted only once per item.

CT3There are Hint buttons in the Exclude and Add One activities.  The Hint button, for example, reveals the category name to which all items belong to barring one (in Exclude).

Of course, no current app of Tactus Therapy’s is without the Results box that comes out either at the end of an activity or when the user taps the Home button.  The Results box shows:

  • Items answered / total items (percentage)
  • Continue
  • Try Again
  • Email Results
  • Done

In the main screen’s top right corner is the Settings button, and this allows a high degree of customisability for the clinician.

  • CT10Maximum Number of Trials: options are 10, 25, 50 or All.  “All” refers to the total items of all the target categories that the user has selected prior to starting the activity
  • Target Type:  allows the clinician to select how the question and options will be shown, is it to be as Words & Pictures, Pictures Only, or Words Only
  • Field Size:  a field size of Small will show 3 choices, Medium shows 4 choices, and Large will show 6 choices
  • Default Email Address for Results
  • Child-Friendly Mode: one can toggle this on or off as needed.  Toggling this on, for example, removes the target category “Weapons” from the Easy (Concrete) level of difficulty
  • Audio Reinforcement of Category:  this works only for the Exclude and Add One modes.  If this is toggled on and the user makes the correct answer in either mode, the app tells the user the category name.

CT8What we love about this app:

  • retains the clean, sharp design that its predecessors have been known for: we all know how crucial this is especially if one works with older clients with visual issues, or with individuals who are relatively distractible.
  • well-chosen picture stimuli: these are crisp and stands out against the white background
  • stimulus picture shrinks into the correct category the user has chosen: this is seen in the Classify activity, and helps establish the idea that the picture is “taken in” by the category the user had correctly selected.
  • stimulus picture moves into the empty box: seen in the Add One activity, the picture that the client had selected moves to take its place along three other pictures that belong in the same category.
  • age-appropriate pictures: older individuals may be more familiar with the form of film cameras than of digital cameras.
  • several categories are familiar and appropriate to older kids and adults: as with the previous apps, this app was designed to be used by older individuals.  Concepts such as things made of fabric, toiletries, and meats are a welcome addition to more common target categories.
  • lightweight:  weighing at 24.2 mb, it is hard to believe that this packs 700 images and a lot of voice clips.
  • A screenshot of the app on the iPhone 5.

    A screenshot of the app on the iPhone 5.

    available for iPhones and iPod Touches, and is optimized for iPhone 5: we were lucky enough to finally upgrade our iPhone 3GS to iPhone 5, and we saw that the app stands out nice and clear in the phone’s Retina, widescreen display.  Despite the difference in screen real estate, the Retina screen makes up for it and makes the letters readable.

  • affordable: this is a worthy $15 investment as this can be used over and over again across clients.

What we hope to see in future updates:

  • an option in Settings to remove the audio button under the stimulus pictures/words: we used the app with a couple of our older clients with fine motor problems, and they accidentally press on the audio button rather than the picture/word.
  • an added feature for iPhones and iPod Touches to zoom in on pictures:  several pictures are too small to be visually understood when displayed in smaller screens.  While the app does not offer the pinch-zoom function, it may benefit the client who uses the app in an iPhone/iPod Touch if a tap-zoom function can be added.

Working on categories is a common activity in language therapy.  What Category TherAppy has managed to do is to collate four kinds of activities into one tight, comprehensive app, and spruced it up with customizable field sizes, filtered target categories, cue types, and best of all, difficulty levels that range from concrete to abstract categories.  With 700 images in 70 categories, one can do so much with this app with any client.  By taking on the bulk of preparation from the clinician, more time can be devoted into helping one’s client process what is on the screen and providing ample feedback.  In our iOS device, Category TherAppy falls under our select “high frequency” apps… if you know what we mean.

Price:  $14.99
Weight: 24.2 MB
Released: 11 November 2012
Version: 1.0
Compatible with: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Target Population: children & adults
Awesome if you want to work on:
  • naming (objects, categories, places, etc.)
  • associations
  • descriptions
  • answering what and why questions
  • etc.
Customer Ratings (iTunes): 5 out of 5 stars
iSPeak App says: 5 out of 5 smileys

 

 

 

 

 

 

Avaz for Autism: A great way to celebrate International AAC Awareness Month

October is International Augmentative and Alternative Communication Awareness Month!  We had been recently given a chance to check out Invention Labs’ baby, Avaz for Autism.  Avaz was conceptualized by some inventors in the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras as early as 2005 and, after a good amount of hard work, was born as a tablet first.  This year saw Avaz’s rebirth as an iOS app, and will come out eventually as an Android app.  

When we started Avaz for Autism for the first time, we felt like it was a special app.  Our instincts were right.  Anything that’s 333mb in data weight promised to be a feature-laden app.  On an iPad 2, Avaz took a few seconds to start up, but once you’re in, you are greeted by a simple, AAC interface.  Depending on your settings, either Pictures (in the form of folders / icons / messages) welcome you to Avaz, or a Keyboard.  But whether you’re on Pictures or Keyboard mode, the typing screen is located on top.  A button that allows you to switch between Pictures and Keyboard sits comfortably on the upper left corner, while the upper right corner contains the Clear button (tap it once to “Delete,” tap it twice to “Clear” the contents of the typing screen).

The layout of the following buttons on the right allows comfortable and easy access by tapping the buttons with a thumb or finger:

  • Go Back (to the previous screen)
  • Home
  • Quick (allows access to preprogrammed / customized buttons that are more frequently used)
  • Mistake (if Avaz is set to speak actions, tapping this button says “I made a mistake.”)
  • Alert (a pleasant ding rings out to call someone’s attention)

Avaz is highly customizable (oh yes it is!).  The upper right corner houses the Edit and Settings buttons as well.  One is required to enter a password in order to access these features.  Very convenient as the clinician / parent would not want the client to be able to modify these.

There’s much to be said about Avaz’s features, things that we are terribly excited to highlight:

  • Help is contained in one screen:  You know that an app is well designed and simple enough to learn when its Help screen explains the process in very few words.  Even better, the Help screen has a button on the lower left that speaks out the instructions.  Great feature!
  • Selected messages enlarge towards the middle of the screen:  excellent way to emphasize the message chosen
  • Highly customizable:  Avaz allows one to do the following:
    • add pictures:  via the iPad’s camera, from the Photo Library, or from Avaz’s built-in Symbolstix library (10,000+ high-quality figures!)
    • add labels to pictures
    • show / not show labels
    • enable / disable “messages” or folders:  no need to delete them if you don’t want them shown
    • create messages and categories / folders
    • cut-paste, especially useful if you want to move messages and subfolders to another folder
    • rearrange the sequence of messages / folders:  just tap and drag these around to arrange them to your preferred sequence.
  • control HOW Avaz speaks a word:  this is our favorite feature.  It is perfectly ok for us that the built-in vocabulary is for the US since we speak a lot of English with our own young clients in the clinic.  But we have a lot of names and Filipino labels that Avaz cannot pronounce correctly.  Within the Edit mode, one can Add a Message (or Category), and in the bottom of the screen is a Speak As field.  Type in HOW you want the target word pronounced, and test how Avaz pronounces it by tapping the Sound icon.  Beautiful, isn’t it?
  • Predictive input on Keyboard mode:  not only does Avaz narrow down word choices as one types a word, commonly used words found within its Symbolstix library come with its respective icon.  Tap it and be done with your message.
  • Settings offers most if not all of your preferred tweakings:  check out the screenshots below.  One can
    • set the keyboard layout to QWERTY or ABC
    • turn the message box on/off
    • include pictures within the message box or not
    • control pic and caption size
    • opt to have pics enlarge on select or not
    • opt to have the app go Home automatically
    • select adult or child voices, male or female, etc.
  • can be used with multiple clients:  this comes in pretty handy if you are a clinician who works with clients who use AAC devices.  Going via Starting Screen enables one to customize the categories in the root screen and create child-specific categories within it.
  • can save messages:  saved messages can be assigned to play back once one taps the picture it is associated with.
  • PECS can be used via Avaz: check out Avaz’s Support page for instructions on how the app can accommodate the PECS system.  

This is one app that apparently had a history of receiving and hearing out customer feedback in order to improve it even more.  With that in mind, we only have but a few concerns:

  • significant lag-time during startup as well as in Edit mode:  this may vary depending on the iPad’s / Android device’s built-in RAM.  It is worth remembering however that Avaz has thousands of pictures built in compressed in 333mb, and this may contribute to the lag.  At least the lag does not occur during actual usage.
  • no zoom-in / enlarge pictures option:  one needs to be careful at shooting and selecting pictures that show small objects.  We wanted to show a set of toy vehicles and this was how it came out (see picture on the right).  Tweaking the picture size does not change the size of the pic per se.  It changes how many pictures are shown on the screen at a time.  So if you’re not comfortable having only two pics on the screen just so the pic details can be seen, choose your pictures well.
  • no Lite version:  We could only but assume that a good part of Avaz’s price tag goes to Symbolstix licensing, but it would be great if there was an Avaz Lite to enable interested parties to try the app before buying it.  A Lite version can also come in useful for parents who wish to ascertain that Avaz is for their child.

AAC apps are one of the more difficult apps to design and produce.  Coming with a $99.99 price tag, it is only but natural for one to ascertain that the app they are contemplating on buying is worth it.  Avaz for Autism has had quite a dev history (four years) and had worked with over “20 speech therapists and educators, 25 schools, and 500 children across two countries” in order to arrive to where it is now.  One cannot help but pay attention to an app designed by people who care not just about its level of customizability, they appeared to also make sure that pronunciation differences are taken into account.

(We at iSPeak App recommend that if you want to ascertain that Avaz for Autism is for your  loved one, consult a speech-language pathologist who is AAC-trained.)

Price: $ 99.99 
Weight: 333 MB
Updated: 18 September 2012
Version: 1.0
Compatible with: iPad (Android version due out soon.  Contact the developer for updates.)
Seller:  Invention Labs Engineering Products Pvt Ltd
Target Population: children & adults who may benefit from using AAC
Awesome if you want to work on:
  • augmentative and alternative communication skills
Customer Ratings (iTunes): 4+ out of 5 stars
iSPeak App says: 4+ out of 5 smileys

Visual Attention TherAppy: More than meets the eye

Tactus Therapy continues to fill the void with their quality therapy apps.  They have recently shifted their apps’ focus from language to cognition–specifically, attention–skills.  Again, while there are apps in the App Store that we can use to target visual attention, a good number of them were made in a gaming context.  Many come with timers, putting temporal stress on a task and making one wish there were ways to toggle the countdown off.  Visual Attention TherAppy puts more options in the clinician (or user’s) hands, enabling one to create specific visual attention tasks and generate information about the user’s performance.

Tap the app’s icon on the iPad and it immediately shows you the main screen. On the upper right corner is the Settings button.  It was a good idea that we checked out Settings first because there were a number of crucial options in it:

  • Number of Trials At Each Level: 1-5, and 10. You want to have 3 trials of Letter in Symbols? Tap 3.
  • Number of Lines: The more lines, the more targets and foils. 
    • Fewest: 4 lines
    • Some: 5 lines
    • More: 6 lines
    • Most: 8 lines (this pretty much fills up the screen)
  • Spacing: Small, Medium, Large.  The number of lines depends on the spacing selected.  If Small is selected, the activity can have as much as 12 lines.  Choose Large spacing however, there will be 6 lines.
  • Signal:  specifically added for clients with neglect issues, this gives the clinician the option to have a Red, Yellow, or Flashing signal at the side of the screen to direct the client’s attention to. The toggle for a Left, Right, or No Signal is found in the main screen.
  • Default Email Address for Results: As with Tactus Therapy’s previous apps, one can enter the receipient’s email address to whom the results will be forwarded.
  • Child-Friendly Mode: toggle this button to turn it off or on.

There are two modes on the app’s main screen: Practice and Test. One can access all of the app’s levels in either mode. The difference between these modes is that in Practice, the client/user cannot move forward and skip targets: he/she must tap and select all targets before moving on to the next line. In Test mode, anything goes, and the user can tap at the targets in any order.  Visual attention skills are measured by how many targets were selected until the Done button is tapped or until all targets have been selected.  One other difference is that the Test mode takes note which quadrant of the screen the user missed targets in.  The Results page includes this information under “Location of Missed Targets.”

There are 10 levels to choose from, and these are arranged by difficulty:

  • Same Symbol
  • Same Letter
  • Symbol in Letters
  • Letter in Symbols
  • Symbol in Symbols and Letters
  • Letter in Letters and Symbols
  • Dissimilar Symbols
  • Similar Symbols
  • Dissimilar Letters
  • Similar Letters

At the bottom of the Level Selection page, one can opt to show 1 or 2 targets.

The task screen is monochromatic, the letter and symbol font in black and is approximately Arial font size 14 or 15. The header bar shows:

  • the Home button
  • the Timer: the clock starts when the user taps the first target
  • the Instructions: centered in the header bar is the target (ex: Touch Every C, Touch Every I and T)
  • the Counters
    • Targets Found / Total Targets
    • Trials / Total Trials
  • the Skip button (Practice Mode) or the Done button (Test Mode)

On Practice Mode, tapping on a correct letter/symbol makes a soft “whooshing” sound. Tap on a wrong letter/symbol, one hears a “thunk” sound. Turn the iPad’s sound off or decrease the volume if you do not wish to hear these sounds.

The Results page is shown in email format, with a brief description on how the client performed (time it took to accomplish tasks, date, spacing, number of targets found, total targets, number of lines). The results are shown in tables with the following information:

  • the Targets
  • the Time it took to finish each trial
  • Number Correct (including percent correct)
  • the Location of Missed Targets (top/bottom left/right)
  • Number of Wrong Targets

What we love about Visual Attention TherAppy:

  • responsive to finger taps, area-specific:  this is worth noting because a good amount of effort in app development goes into programming which areas in every screen should respond to taps (and what happens when that area is tapped). Whether the spacing is large or small, or the lines many or few, the app responds beautifully to touch.
  • font size: consider the app as a tool to help clients manage written word better and pay attention to smaller, finer details. The font size is just right for older children and adults (who may use reading glasses if necessary, of course).
  • provisions for individuals with neglect issues: this one’s a good plus. A colored and/or flashing line at the neglected side of the screen always comes in handy for certain cases.  What’s even more awesome is the app’s ability to report what quadrants were neglected!
  • high customizability: # of trials, # of lines, spacing, levels of difficulty are all within the clinician/user’s control. One needs a thick book full of similar paper-based activities in order to get as customized a visual attention task as possible. And even if one has electronic copies of such activities, printing these out takes time and uses up paper, leading us to our final point…
  • Earth-friendly! some of us undergo a certain amount of guilt (well, we do) when we use up a lot of paper for visual attention tasks only to throw them away afterwards. Small whiteboards solved this problem somewhat, though making the letters and symbols eats up time.  This app saves both natural and time resources.

Did we find anything we didn’t love about the app? Nope.  The app is fast and lightweight (less than 1 MB!), is highly specific in its role in its app-life, and costs only $10.00.  To get a feel of how the app works, get Visual Attention TherAppy Lite from the App Store.  This free version packs a one level activity and lets you try out its Practice and Test modes, put out 1 to 2 targets, and email results.

It is easy to take down an engaging app from the App Store and analyze how it can be used to target specific cognitive skills. Many do address sustained, alternating, even divided attention.  We knew we needed apps like these, but we also wanted highly specialized ones too.  At the back of our heads years ago, we wished for a better way to address visual attention and get measured results without using up so much time.  Seeing how Visual Attention TherAppy was designed to work, the bar is raised even further in therapy app development.  Visual Attention TherAppy is guaranteed to be one of those beautiful apps that, when you see it and try it out, will make you exclaim “Finally!”  We were this close to hugging it, to be honest.  Thanks for yet another amazing release, Tactus Therapy.

Price: $ 9.99 
Weight: 0.9 MB
Updated: 14 September 2012
Version: 1.01
Compatible with: iPad
Seller: Tactus Therapy Solutions, Ltd.
Target Population: children, adults
Awesome if you want to work on:
  • visual attention skills
Customer Ratings (iTunes): 4+ out of 5 stars
iSPeak App says: 4+ out of 5 smileys

 

Screening early language skills using the iPad is now possible via the Common Core Early Language Screener (CCELS)

A quick search through the web and the App Store can give any clinician the impression that majority of the SLP apps out there are either for therapy or for record keeping.  The iPad has addressed the problem of carrying paper-based–and oftentimes heavy–materials from one client to another, that is, until one is called to do screening and assessment.  We have not seen a good language screening app online, until we saw the CCELS:  Common Core Early Language Screener by Smarty Ears.

Based from the common core standards that were set in the U.S., the CCELS was designed to screen the language skills of children between pre-kindergarten to kindergarten levels.  After the evaluator has entered basic student information for a New Screening, he/she can set what skills level need to be assessed by choosing the grade level.

Skills assessed by the CCELS. (Source: www.smartyearsapps.com)

We took the CCELS for a test drive and entered the necessary information in order to start the screening.  As we went through the CCELS using Pre-Kindergarten, Beginning Kindergarten, and Ending Kindergarten, it was apparent that the skills assessed were different at each level.  We had to familiarize ourselves with the screener prior to administering the app as each step had its own set of instructions on how to administer and score.  There are, for the most part, three screens:

  • the Instructions screen
  • the Stimuli screen
  • the Scoring screen

The Instructions Screen contains:

  • the header: the area being screened (for example:  Actions).  Also contains the Home button.
  • the body, which contains:
    • the task:  (Now you will have the student label the pictures:)
    • the prompt/s:  (Can you name these pictures? What is this?)
    • the instructions:  (Click next to display pictures & present them to the child.)
  • the footer:  holds the following buttons:
    • Back button: brings the user to the previous task
    • Skip button: brings the user to the next task
    • Next button: allows one to proceed to the picture/figure/word stimuli

Click Next and one enters the Stimuli screen.  Click Next again and number buttons appear, allowing one to tap and assign a score for the task.

It was apparent that a good amount of foresight went into the designing of the CCELS.  We appreciated the following features:

  • one-time entry of institution and evaluator name:  this option is under Settings.  Entering information via Settings ensures that these names will appear in all reports generated via the CCELS.
  • text or PDF:  choose whether the report to be generated will be text-version or inPDF format
  • print forms:  hook up the iPad to an AirPrint printer and print an Evaluator Form or a Child Sheet
  • option to resume and complete screening at another time:  access this option via Past Screenings, and it will show you which screenings have been finished and which ones are still pending.
  • option to conclude the screening and skip subsequent items:  If you click on the Home button in the middle of the screening, the app asks you if you want to:
    • complete the assessment and generate a report
    • save progress and continue later
  • generate a report:  the report contains:the client’s basic information as entered in the New Screening screen
    • when the client’s early language skills was screened, the tool’s name and purpose, etc.
    • grade level selected for the client
    • (in table format) language skills, percent accuracy, and ratio of correct answers to total questions asked.

The CCELS is easy to use, the fonts were big and readable, the pictures colorful and easy to process visually, the instructions clear and concise.  The Generate Report feature never failed to elicit smiles from our fellow speech-language pathologists each time we showed the app off to them.  Except for a bit of a lag in a couple of tasks (we used an iPad 2), the CCELS is an awesome gift to us who are often called to do a quick screening and we just so happened to have an iPad on hand.  We all know the iPad is a great investment, but having a screening tool such as the CCELS in it boosts its usefulness and value in our work.

Price: $ 34.99 
Weight: 65.9 MB
Updated: 9 August 2012
Version: 1.0
Compatible with: iPad
Seller: Smarty Ears, LLC
Target Population: children
Awesome if you want to:
  • screen early language skills
Customer Ratings (iTunes): 4+ out of 5 stars
iSPeak App says: 4+ out of 5 smileys

 

It’s raining adjectives at Adjective Remix

It may be summer in the US but in our part of the globe, it’s been raining oceans.  iSPeak App is back, and this time, we’ve just finished taking Smarty EarsAdjective Remix for a long, thorough circuit among our kids at the clinic.  Released last June 2012, Adjective Remix comes packed with 200 adjectives and around 400 pictures.  Smarty Ears has certainly put together an app that makes any therapy session a fun and interactive one while learning adjectives.

The main screen shows the user:

  • Quick Start at the bottom left of the screen, enabling any user to start the lesson right away sans tweaking
  • Report Cards and Select Students grace the bottom right of the screen:
    • Select Students allows the user to add a student, take the child’s picture and tag it with a name.  Select one or more players–again, one or MORE players (!)–and click the Start button to begin the game.
    • Report Cardsleads the user to the student selection screen where, after choosing a student, shows a second screen with:
      • date of app usage
      • accuracy of answers in percent
      • adjectives played and how many percent of these the has child mastered
      • adjectives that have not been played
  • the Settings button is located on the top right, where one can choose
    • Display Text at the top of the screen
    • what happens when the answer is incorrect (When Wrong):  game moves on, the child is alerted with an audio signal, or app won’t respond at all)
    • the Presentation of Items, if these will be presented on random or in order
  • the Concepts Targeted, and the adjectives are grouped into:the Support button, where one can post to Facebook, access the video tutorial, contact the app developers, or share news about the app to a friend
    • Appearance (soft, new, long)
    • Colors
    • Feelings
    • Quantity (few, empty)
    • Shape (thick, curved)
    • Size
    • Time (old, modern)
    • Touch and Taste (nutritious, hot, dry)

After customizing our preferred targets and selecting our student/s, we started the lesson proper and we were pleased with:

  • the quality of the pictures:  these are pictures, not drawings.  Sharp, clear pictures!
  • the target word is in boldface:  one can see this as long as the Display Text is toggled on
  • the picture of the child on the top left of the screen: useful especially if one uses the 2+ players option
  • comes with pre-installed avatars for those who do not want to use their clients’ pictures.  One can also skip using a picture / avatar altogether.
  • the brief yet rewarding visuals in the form of a “Well Done!” stamp that comes out following each correct answer
  • the fact that how the app responds to wrong answers can be customized (the app does not respond and moves on to the next picture, the current screen stays until the correct answer is tapped, and gives a beep for every wrong answer)
  • the Next and Stop buttons, which basically allows the user to move on the next picture without necessarily answering the present question, and Stop to conclude the session altogether
  • the customizability of the app:  one can choose which adjectives to include in the lesson, opt to create student lists, and view their “report cards.”
  • the Report Card:  not only does it give the percentage of correct answers PER adjective, it also gives one an idea which specific adjectives the child needs to work on vs. those he has already mastered.

What we would like to suggest as adjustments are:

  • a volume boost:  we’ve put our iPad at the highest volume settings (both via the rocker button and via Settings), and we still couldn’t hear the app’s voice well enough.  This is crucial because not everyone will opt to have the app display text above the picture
  • a Clear Results button on the Report Card:  our experimentations led us to a Report Card with a lot of Not Played tags, which made us realize that it would be nice if a user can opt to delete certain therapy session dates.  Until that happens, it looks like one needs to create a new Student (and Report Card) in order to reset accuracy ratings

It is also worth noting that this app is literally no lightweight.  Packing 216mb worth of data, you may want to double check how much space you have left in your device (and if have a  reliable and fast Internet connection) before purchasing this.

Since Adjective Remix was a hit among our kids, we can definitely say that Smarty Ears has apparently done a lot in order to deliver a tight app package that features a level of customizability rarely found in therapy apps.  At $9.99, this one’s a solid investment into the techie SLP’s app arsenal.

Price: $9.99 
Weight: 216 MB
Updated: 22 June 2012
Version: 1.0
Compatible with: iPad
Seller: Smarty Ears, LLC
Target Population: children with special needs
Awesome if you want to work on:
  • comprehension of adjectives
  • visual processing
  • comparing and contrasting
Customer Ratings (iTunes): 4 out of 5 stars
iSPeak App says: 4 out of 5 smileys

 

Win a copy of Comprehension TherAppy!

As a way of celebrating Aphasia Awareness Month, we, in cooperation with Tactus Therapy Solutions, are giving away a copy of Comprehension TherAppy!  We have already done a review of this app, and after nearly a year of using it with both our kid and adult clients, this is definitely one app you would love to have in your arsenal.

Contest starts tomorrow, June 15 (Friday), and will end on June 24 (Sunday).  All you have to do is log in below via Facebook or using your email, and follow the instructions.  Lots of luck!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Using the Spaced Retrieval TherAppy app for Memory Training

The whole idea about apps for therapy is that it makes the work easier for both the clinician and the client.  The clinician spends less time preparing the materials and instead devotes more time interacting with the client. There are thousands of therapy apps in the App Store, but there are only a handful that are as effective, as functional, and as flexible as Spaced Retrieval TherAppy, the newest release by Tactus Therapy Solutions.

The app prefers a portrait orientation (we used an iPad 2 for this).  The main screen shows three rectangular boxes for three targets.  To set up a target:

  • tap on the box to create a new target
  • select a type of interval for this target (standard or graduated)
  • set the start and end intervals (minimum of 15 seconds, maximum of 32 minutes)

Depending on the session’s plans, one can either read the question out loud to the client or have the client read the question him/herself.  Tap the Check icon if the answer is right (or X for a wrong answer).  

If the answer is correct, the timer will count down from the start interval you had set up.  If you tapped X for an incorrect answer, tell your client the right response, have him/her repeat it, then tap the Check mark again to have the timer count down.  An alert will sound if it’s time to ask the question again.  If your client gives a correct answer, the time interval increases.  If the answer was wrong, the interval decreases.

(It’s so simple, it’s brilliant.  The clinician need not look and track time using a separate stopwatch each time.)

Other buttons and options included in the app are:

  • Square button:  to pause the clock
  • Continue:  to resume
  • Email: to send a summary of the data via email
  • Delete:  wipe all data from the target
  • Quit:  end the activity without emailing the results

Spaced-retrieval training (SRT) is an evidence-based therapy approach that has been used countless times for individuals with memory difficulties.  We didn’t have such a client at the time we tried the app out, but we did have a 60-year old female patient with Broca’s aphasia and attentional difficulties.  We have been trying to wean her away from cues whenever she answers questions during word-retrieval activities.  Since she loves talking about food, travel and shopping, we wrote our target questions into the app’s boxes.  

Bottomline:  she loved the app.  She was extremely successful in answering our target questions, we found ourselves changing questions after 2-3 repetitions.  She didn’t need cueing at all.  All she did was look at the timer tick down, looked at us when it was time (as if asking us to read the question), and she readily gave her answer.  BOOM.

We strongly like:

  • the interface:  clean lines, easy on the eyes.  When you have a client struggling with incoming visual stimuli, you definitely want something that looks simple but displays relevant information without being overwhelming.
  • the EBP-ness of it:  SRT is supported by several studies, and you can get the links to these by going to Tactus Therapy Solutions’ website here.
  • time intervals options:  at the time of this writing we have not yet come across an app that takes into account time intervals for SRT.  Time intervals is a simple yet crucial setting that is built into the app.
  • works in the background:  one need not have the app on-screen all the time while waiting.  The client can work on another app (or even go through pictures on the iPad), and a notification window will simply pop up and remind the user that the target question needs to be asked again.
  • the possibilities of…! adults with language and cognitive impairments can benefit from this.  From word retrieval, recalling one’s schedule for the day, orienting one’s self to day, date and place… almost any memory target can be entered in the app.  Children can also benefit from the app and accomplish several therapy goals.
  • light in price and in memory:  we believe a lot of our friends would run out of excuses for not purchasing this.
We would like to see:
  • more sound options:  the app’s current version uses one chime only
We foresee the increased usage of Spaced Retrieval TherAppy especially among our client’s caregivers because of its simple and easy-to-use interface.  We will definitely be featuring this app in our aphasia and cognitive disorders lectures at both universities as well.  It really just works.
Price: $3.99 
Weight: 1.1 MB
Updated: 20 Feb 2012
Version: 1.0
Compatible with: optimized for both the iPhone (and iPod Touch) and iPad
Seller: Tactus Therapy Solutions LLC
Target Population: adults, children with special needs
Awesome if you want to work on:
  • word retrieval
  • memory
  • recalling of schedules, tasks, appointments
  • attention
  • visual processing
Customer Ratings (iTunes): 4 out of 5 stars
iSPeak App says: 4.5 out of 5 smileys

 

Apps on Sale (or gone FREE) for Better Speech and Hearing Month

It’s BSHM 2012! Time to sync and backup those iOS devices, move thousands of pictures into your external hard drive, delete unused apps and allot space for your favorite apps that have gone ON SALE! 

Note:  The prices and dates indicated below were obtained from app developer announcements, blogsites and from the App Store.  Prices may change without further notice, so we ask that you double-check the apps’ quoted prices before buying.

Tactus Therapy Solutions Apps (20% discount from May 4 to May 8, 2012)

Smarty Ears Apps (50% discount until May 9, 2012)

Super Duper Publications (from $5.99 to $1.99) :

Pocket SLP Apps (crazy low discounts until May 8, 2012!)
Virtual Speech Center (on sale until May 8, 2012)
Mobile Education Store (on sale until May 8, 2012)
Abitalk Mobile Education (on sale until 9:00 pm PST May 4, 2012)
Hamaguchi Apps for Speech, Language & Auditory Development                           (on sale until May 8, 2012)
And more!!
Apps with pending updates regarding their sale prices:

Keep checking back at this list as we update it with more useful apps that have gone on sale for you!

 

Beef up your arsenal with these syntax apps

iBooks and PDF readers are extremely useful tools whenever your activities for the day include working on English syntax.  We don’t know about you, but some of our kids eventually don’t find it entertaining to go through .pdf material and learn grammar the usual ‘book’ way.

Thanks to our fellow SLP, Nancy L., we got screenshots of her app collection on her iPad and checked out the apps that she had so painstakingly picked out at the App Store:

  • Preposition Remix by Smarty Ears ($9.99) SLP-designed and made, the app contains 20 of the most commonly used English prepositions, with options that allows one to toggle certain prepositions off/on, thereby customizing the lesson for each kid.  Read our review here.
  • Practice English Grammar 2 by CrowdUni (FREE) this one is a treasure trove!
  • Verbs Game Lite by Mobion (lite version, thus FREE)
  • GetAcross Free (uh… FREE) helps your client learn prepositions and phrasal verbs by making the character cross rivers, lava flows, and canyons
  • Grammar Up: Phrasal Verbs by Eknath Kadam ($2.99) with 26 topics and 750 multiple choice questions with explanation
  • GRE Vocab Study Aid by Mansoor Jafri (FREE) carries 700 high-frequency words in flashcard format and reviews are done via a quiz game
  • Verb Mayhem Series by Generate Learning were designed to help develop and improve children’s skills in recognizing parts of speech:
    • Verb Mayhem 1 ($2.99) designed for typically-developing 7-year old kids
    • Verb Mayhem 2 ($2.99) designed for typically-developing 8-9 year kids or those who have had 3-4 years of reading English
    • Verb Mayhem 3 ($2.99) designed for typically-developing 10-12 year old kids or those who have had 5-7 years of reading English
  • Grammar Express:  Prepositions Lite by Eknath Kadam (FREE) with 68 pages of grammar rules and 265+ examples
  • Sentence Builder by Mobile Education Tools ($5.99) contains over 100 pictures for kids to build sentences around with optional correct sentence audio reinforcement
  • Sentence Maker by Grasshopper Apps ($0.99) a highly customizable app that enables the user to create and complete their own sentences
  • Comparative Adjectives by Grasshopper Apps (FREE for a limited time only) allows a young kid client tap on the picture that matches a voiced-in description
There are so many more syntax apps in the App Store, both paid and free, that we’d love to include in this list… but we need your help!  Leave a comment below and let us know what syntax apps you have on your iOS device, and which ones do you find most useful and why.