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
True 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.
There 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)
- Try Again
- Email Results
In the main screen’s top right corner is the Settings button, and this allows a high degree of customisability for the clinician.
- Maximum 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.
What 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.
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.
- naming (objects, categories, places, etc.)
- answering what and why questions