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Monday, August 19, 2013

Apps in Intervention

     There are so, so many apps out.  And we all want to use them.  But how to find the “good” ones?  There are so many to wade through and you can’t possibly look through them all.  So, I am going to post a few suggestions here about apps I like to use.  

     My absolute favorite - and this is true for many SLPs I’ve spoken with - are the Toca Boca apps.  They are just a lot of fun and can promote interactions in a genuine way.  Because genuine communication is what we’re after, right? The first Toca Boca app I ever used was Toca Tea Party.  A flood of memories of all my daughter’s tea parties when she was little, and excursions to fancy hotels for “high tea.”  I love using this app when I do evaluations. (1 iPad for interaction, 1 for fun apps - what a lot of technology!)  We can talk about which plates or cups or treats we want.  We can comment about being hungry or thirsty or how good something tastes.  We can ask for more and say we’re finished.  Depending on your student/client there are some fun conversations to be scaffolded. Of course, I see more boys than girls.  So, I have “had” to acquire Toca Builders, Toca Kitchen Monsters, Toca Robot Lab

(my favorite), and many more.  Again, just talking through the actions and sequences provides an opportunity to input language and scaffold responses.  These are really fun and engaging apps that the kids (and some older clients) really like.  They stay focused and whatever they do within the app is an opportunity to generate a language response.  

     Another favorite is Bamba Burger.  Recently I spent almost half an hour with a young man with autism building burgers and cutting french fries.  I had lots of opportunities to make comments about his choices for toppings (fish? octopus?), and I got him to talk about what he wanted and whether he liked it or not.  He also liked their Ice Cream Parlor app.

     Other apps for building language: Educreation allows you to make lessons your students can watch over and over again.  Quizard lets you make your own flashcards,  Talk about it objects asks students to “tell me everything you can about a cat.” See Touch  Learn also allows you to create custom flashcard sets.  

     But, to be honest, I’m not into flashcards anymore.  Even Lovaas acknowledged you can’t teach language in discrete trial drills.  Work in context.  Create those contexts.  That is what makes the Toca Boca apps work so well for working on language.  Many of the contexts are familiar to kids, and the others are play routines that give our kids room to grow. One thing I am constantly telling SLPs and teachers is this: “Therapy with kids with AAC systems or with other technology is not any different from the therapy you have always been doing.  It’s just a different mode of expression, or different “virtual” toys to play with.”Have fun!

Coming up next: apps to develop personal narratives, apps for guided and shared reading, and, of course, my own 2 apps (QuestionIt and SoundSwaps).

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