The DYnamic Therapy Associates Blog
My iPad has become an integral part of my weekly speech therapy sessions so of course I was happy to participate in the YappGuru Top 10 Apps of 2014 Linky Party! Here's my Top 10 for the year. Be warned, I was told everyone loves freebies (of course) but only 2 of these are free. However, these are high quality apps that REALLY do what they say they do. They are worth every penny I've paid. Although I do get freebies from developers at times, I chose to use my speech therapy budget for almost all of these apps.
ChoiceWorks by BeeVisual http://www.beevisual.com/
ChoiceWorks is a great little app that lets me set up a schedule of our therapy activities for each session. When each activity is completed the students can move the icon over to the "All Done" column. There is a timer you can set for each activity (great for limiting reward time!). End of the session rewards are shown on the bottom and kids can pick from 2 different rewards. This app has great possibilities for families and teachers to schedule across a longer period of time (daily schedules, for example).
Story Creator: by Innovative Mobile
I love this app! I have patients pick out photographs either from a file of their own photos or from Google image searches. We save the photos on our iPad and then write sentences to go with our photos. Kids can then record their sentence, either verbally or using their AAC device. This is a GREATLY motivating activity for most children as we choose their most favorite topics. So far this year we've written about Disney, princesses, snacks, sports, Halloween, and travel destinations. When we are done, we can email our books to our personal iPads or to our family's iPad to share at home. Excellent app!
Tiny Tap by TinyTap Ltd is a great little app for developing interactive activities. This little app allows you to create books, puzzles, quizzes and educational activities. It is so simple that your students can create activities as well. Not so creative? That's okay, there is an entire community uploading activities you can download. Some activities have a small cost but most are free. GREAT when you want to create activities with very specific content for your patients.
Symbol Support by the Attainment Company
is a great little app to allow you to add symbols to text. This has been a handy tool for helping students understand text. We've used it to "translate" class notes into understandable visual images for social studies and science. The app has an extensive library of symbols and if you can't find the symbol you need, it has an internet image search embedded into the program.
News-2-You App by Assistiveware
Of course I love the News-2-You app. This app lets us access all levels of the picture enhanced newspaper, listen to the pages read aloud (with highlighting), and use the interactive game pages. The app requires a News-2-You subscription, which you should have ANYWAY, since it is a curriculum of materials for your students. I have used News-2-You for speech language therapy for most of my career. It's worth every penny!
ArtikPix by Expressive Solutions LLC
is a great app for targeting articulation practice for children who need clear, simple images. I love that this app uses Symbolstix, a symbol set many of my students are already familiar with. The app includes flashcards and a simple memory game. It is SIMPLE with clear, easy to see images. I find it works very well with my students who can't handle complex images and lots of distractable clickables. This is easy, lets you collect data and record student attempts at production. Perfect for my special needs students.
Speech Stickers by Serious Tree LLC
As long as we are on the subject of teaching articulation, this is a wonderful, motivating app that helps patients practice very early developing sounds and sound combinations. All basic sounds are targeted in isolation or a consonant-vowel or vowel-consonant format. Pick a sound and placement and then let your kids pick a character to make the sound. The students imitate the sound and you select either a correct/incorrect placement and the counting gauge moves up. Once the child has practiced 5 times they get to choose a reinforcer which makes all the characters disappear. Characters are pushed off screen by a bulldozer, taken away in a bus or train, eaten by a shark, blown up by a bomb and more. Well worth the wait for 5 practice trials!
School of Multi-Step Directions by Virtual Speech Center
is a great little app that teaches multiple step directions in the context of a chemistry, language or math class. Directions include real classroom actions such as "underline," "highlight," "add to," "shake," "cross off" and "touch." The app is engaging and the reward is a simple and fun little "pong" game that my kids love. Very well done and useful app!
First Phrases by Hamaguchi Apps is a clear, simple, effective and engaging app designed to help patients who are just beginning to combine words into short phrases. When children get the words in the correct order, they have the opportunity to record their new phrases using their speech (or if you are in my therapy room) their AAC device/app. The reward is an animation of the new phrase they created with adorable little characters. Visually clear and simple and useful! Pretty much all Hamaguchi apps get a thumbs up in my therapy office. They are all high quality and address the basic language my children need.
Counting Songs 2 by HelpKidzLearn
is a fun little cause/effect and counting app by one of the BEST app developers. 10 engaging songs let kids simply touch the screen to advance the song and count the characters. I use this app to let kids experience cause/effect through touch screen OR switch access. I post this as an example of one of the amazing apps available from HelpKidzLearn. If you have students who are at an emerging level of interaction and participation, are switch users or have visual impairments, these apps are perfect. Check out ChooseItMaker3 while you are at it, for creating your own visually clear, easy to access activities for your emerging communicators.
PHEW! It's hard to stop here! There are so many wonderful, effective apps out there. Don't forget these are apps for you to use WITH your students. Don't just hand over the iPad, even with these apps. Jump right in there and have fun with your kids!
Begin at the Beginning: Assessing Motivation, Communication and Voice Output for Children with Complex Communication Needs
We had the opportunity this month to meet some very special boys who have complex communication needs and sensory impairment. One of our boys is deaf-blind, ambulatory and nonverbal. One youngster is functionally blind and has severe motor impairment. He is nonverbal and nonambulatory. Our last fella is nonverbal, has a severe visual impairment and significant sensory defensiveness. All three boys are curious, focused when motivated and responsive. They all communicate primarily through affect, unconventional gestures and vocalizations.
The sensory evaluation starts many days in advance with collecting a wide variety of items to present systematically to the children in the following sensory categories: visual, auditory, tactile, proprioceptive, vestibular and olfactory. Fun shopping, including some handy dandy toolbox organizers, and this is what we came up with!
Our Sensory Collection:
About the Author: I am a SLP who has the distinct fortune of having a job that is also my passion. I have been an AAC Specialist for almost 25 years in schools and my private clinic. I currently own Dynamic Therapy with my husband, Chuck (also of 25 years) who is my business partner and enabler. We have a wonderful staff of SLPs & AAC Specialists who work with us to help our patients. I hope you find my blog helpful as you join me in our journey with our unique and amazing friends! Vicki Clarke, MS CCC-SLP