Google Earth and Cracking Curriculum Content

It’s exciting to have the continued opportunity to contribute to the ASHA Leader for a few of their APP-titudes columns.  It’s a different kind of writing, and I have to go back to stuff I did not learn when completing my journalism degree at BU, and that Magazine Journalism class I never took (I never really liked asking people, you know, questions), but it seems to come out ok after editorial assistance.

In my piece that just came out in the August 28 issue, I discuss apps that clinicians can use to facilitate the daunting process of making your therapy educationally relevant, meaning that the context mirrors or parallels what is going on in the classroom setting.  This is a huge passion of mine, though I feel I must clarify two possible misconceptions.  First of all, I am not talking about SLPs being tutors of classroom subjects.  Rather, the classroom content can be used as a context or target to target goals and strategies: e.g. categorization, description, use of graphic organizers, visualization, and so on. Secondly, although this topic is important, I realized as I saw my column in an issue filled with information about Common Core, it wasn’t really about Common Core, as (for now) those standards are only in Language Arts and Math.  But the information I shared can be about Common Core, and I decided where possible that I would include a Common Core Connection in my posts to link resources shared here to relevant Common Core standards, as I know many public school SLPs are struggling to integrate those.

In my column, I wrote, “In addition to the built-in maps app, Google Earth, available for iOS, Android, and any desktop or laptop machine, provides an extraordinary view of any geographic region. Google Earth allows clinicians to target spatial concepts, descriptive language, categories, and reading comprehension, all by zooming in on locations and viewing photos in the Panoramio layer. The stunning interactive 3D imagery available on the desktop version will soon be available on mobile devices as well.”

These columns are written somewhat ahead of time, and I wanted to let you know (and see) that the free Google Earth app NOW has 3D imagery for select cities (with more to come): Boston (yay), Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver, San Francisco, Geneva, and Rome.

A 3D view of Boston you can interact with via touch.  The new Tour Guide feature makes Google Earth even more navigable with “playable” (and pausable) views of landmarks and key geographic features. Panoramio Photos provide you with countless visual stimuli to explore, describe and discuss with students.

 

The new version also comes with a super-handy tutorial that opens on launch (later it can be re-accessed anytime under the “wrench” icon) that can provide a nice lesson in following directions:

This visual/touch tutorial shows you how to navigate in Google Earth for iPad, and also gives you a good opportunity to target spatial concepts including cardinal directions. Again, bring it up anytime under the “wrench” icon.

I really hope you enjoy this great app.  The only caveats I can share are that the 3D imagery is not available on iPad 1, and that I sometimes get a message that “Google Earth is running low on memory” but the app continues to function.

Common Core Connection
This app can be used, with your verbal prompting and scaffolding, to target standards such as:
SL.3.3. Ask and answer questions about information from a speaker, offering appropriate elaboration and detail.

 

(This post originally appeared on SpeechTechie)

 

Sean J. Sweeney, M.S., M.Ed., CCC-SLP, an SLP, instructional technology specialist and consultant, works in private practice at The Ely Center in Newton, Massachusetts. He is the author of the blog SpeechTechie, a contributor to the ASHA Leader, and recently took on a role as Product Development Manager for Smarty Ears Apps.

Apps and EBP

Stream of Apps

Photo by Phil Aaronson

When I review apps, my years of experience play a significant role in my assessments of their usefulness. I rarely base my reviews on research to determine if the app is evidence based.  This is because research is time-consuming and the reviews of apps already takes a considerable amount of my time. However, I do check suspicious claims. A claim will strike me as suspicious if I suspect that the citation of research has been done to sell the app. Those of you who have read my earlier posts know that I have shown where a claim of an app being based on research is not supported by the research cited.

In this month’s ASHA Leader, Lara Wakefield and Teresa Shaber, in their article, “APP-titude: Use the Evidence to Choose a Treatment App,” noted, “App developers’ descriptions and customers’ reviews, however, may lack discussions of evidence and contain inherent biases. SLPs who use only this information may be relying solely on opinions and advertisements to make decisions.”  Wakefield and Shaber then discuss a five step process for determining if an app is evidence based. These steps are:

Step 1: Frame your clinical question using PICO (Population, Intervention, Comparison, and Outcome).
Step 2: Find the evidence.
Step 3: Assess the evidence.
Step 4: Search the app store and consult the evidence.
Step 5: Make a clinical decision and integrate the different types of evidence to determine your choices.

It is quite easy to do the research. Some app developers cite research in their app descriptions. Follow their lead and make sure the research does support the developers’ claims. ASHA has a database of thousands of articles. Do a search using a few key words and a screen will appear with various articles to peruse.

If one wants to be certain that a particular app meets evidence based standards, one needs to go that extra mile.

 

(This post originally appeared on Apps for Speech Therapy)

 

Mirla Raz, CCC-SLP, is a speech pathologist in private practice (Communication Skills Center) and the author of the Help Me Talk Book: How to Teach a Child to Say the “R” Sound in 15 Easy Lessons, How to Teach a Child to Say the “S” Sound in 15 Easy Lessons, and How to Teach a Child to Say the “L” Sound in 15 Easy Lessons (also available in Kindle). Her latest endeavor is her blog Apps for Speech Therapy.

Rate That App

Day 99, Project 365 - 1.29.10

Photo by William Brawley

More and more SLPs are using apps in therapy and more and more speech/language apps are flooding the app store.  I love to use technology and apps in my therapy sessions, but how do I pick which apps to use?  Honestly, as the market for apps and the number of apps increases, it is becoming harder to determine what apps to buy.  I wrote an earlier post about where to go to find apps.  I also have shared my spreadsheet of apps for speech/language listed by target area.

Today, I want to talk a bit about determining what apps are appropriate and useful in therapy or educational settings.  In order to make this decision, we really must talk about a rating system for apps.   I know some people love rating systems and some people hate them.  I have found that the more reviews I read, the more I want reviews to be to concise and tell me whether or not the app is worth my time and money.  With that in mind,  I have been searching the web to try to find a “good” system for rating apps.   During my search I found rubrics, guiding questions, checklists and star ratings.  After reviewing a variety of these sources, I developed two checklists and star rating systems for apps.   One checklist/rating system is for reviewing speech/language/educational apps and the other is for reviewing game/book/productivity apps.  The original idea for the checklists was based on a list created by Tony Vincent (more info about Tony is written further down on this page).

The basis of the system is to allot one point for each item on the checklist, adding up points for a total score.  The total score is then translated into a star rating.  I am hoping that this system will allow me to be more objective and consistent in my app reviews.  It will also allow me to post star ratings on iTunes as I know iTunes reviews are important to app designers.

Here is a preview of the App Review Checklists and Rating Charts:

If you would like to take a closer look at my checklists, you can download themhere and here.  As always, I am open to sharing.  My only request is that you link back to my blog, and provide any feedback for ways to improve the checklist and rating chart.  I know my system is not perfect and I will most likely tweak it as I use it to evaluate apps.

Some of you may be interested in reading more about the resources that I used to help me create my lists/rating charts.  You can find links and information below:

  • Speech Techie’s Fives Criteria:  Sean Sweeney of SpeechTechie.comcreated this criteria system for evaluating technology.  It is a general set of criteria that can be used when determining if particular apps are useful for speech/language therapy.  If you aren’t familiar with Sean, he is a certified SLP and technology specialist.  He is involved in app development at Smarty Ears and he presents around the country regarding use of technology in sp/lang therapy.  To learn more about his 5′s criteria, you can download his booklet here.
  • Evaluation Rubric for iPod Apps:  This rubric was created by Harry Walker, a teacher, elementary school principal and blogger (I Teach Therefore IPod).   I found that many educators site his rubric when discussing ways to evaluate apps.  I found several app review rubrics that were based on his original rubric for evaluating iPod apps.
  • Ways to Evaluate Educational Apps:  This is a blog post written by Tony Vincent of LearninginHand.com.  Tony shared a rubric and checklist he created for evaluating apps.  He also discussed several rubrics and checklists that have been developed by other educators and school systems.  The idea for the overall set up of my checklist as well as items to include was based on a checklist that he created called, Educational App Evaluation Checklist.  If you love technology and you don’t read Tony’s blog, you should start today.  His blog is an amazing resource for all things technology in education.

If you have any feedback regarding the checklists, I would love to hear from you.  Stay tuned for app reviews that include my checklist and rating system.

 (This post originally appeared on Speech Gadget.)

Deborah Taylor Tomarakos, MA CCC/SLP, has been pediatric speech language pathologist since 1994.   She has experience in both public school settings and in outpatient pediatrics.  She is currently employed by a public school system.  Deb has provided therapy services to children with a wide variety of communication deficits, including children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, CAS, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, language based learning disabilities, and literacy deficits.  Strong areas of interest include technology use in therapy, CAS, and literacy.  You can find her online at www.speechgadget.com where she shares therapy ideas, resources, websites, and technology integration tips. 

Apps Targeting Language for Middle Schoolers

Visione e prospettiva divergente

Photo by mbeo

Far fewer middle school students need our services as compared to the number of preschool and elementary aged children who do. Those who still need therapy present with the unique challenges. After all, they still need our services. Finding apps for our middle school population can be challenging.  I have found a few apps that can be used with those students who have deficits in language.

Proverbidioms: After publishing this post, I downloaded this app. Rather than publish a new post, I decided to edit the post by adding my review of this app. T.E. Breitenbach produced an illustration, Proverbidioms, in 1975, that became a popular poster. It is now produced as an app. It approaches the understanding of 264 proverbs and cliches in two ways. The student is given a list of idioms. He selects one and then searches for it in a scene where a specific illustration demonstrates its literal meaning. The scene is busy but one can increase one’s specific area of focus by moving two fingers outward on the screen. This enlarges a specific illustration. This also allows one to scan the screen and see more detail. Once one matches the idiom and picture, a screen appears that defines the idiom and its derivation. If the child correctly makes the match on the first attempt, he is awarded a gold star, two attempts a silver star and three attempts a bronze star. I think middle school students will enjoy the pictures and the challenge of matching idiom and picture. A word of caution: some illustrations may be more explicit than one may consider appropriate for this age group.

Ages: 13 to adult
Ratings: ++++
Developer: Greenstone Games
Cost: Free for one illustration, $1.99 to $2.99 for additional illustrations

Word Stack Free: This app can be used to strengthen a student’s vocabulary and reasoning skills. It does so by presenting a stack of words. Each word is arranged in random order on eight blue stacked strips on the left side of the screen. The task for the student is to find relationships between words. Words can be synonyms, antonyms, or be made into compound words. To start the game, the student reads the starter word that is on a green strip on the bottom right hand side of the screen. The student looks to find a word on a blue strip that is a synonym, antonym or can combine with it to make a compound word. The student places the word selected on top of the first green strip. If the selection is correct, the strip turns green. There is now a two word green stack. Next, the student must find a word on the left for the new word on the stack. Again, it must be a synonym, antonym or combine with it to make a compound word. The task continues in this fashion until all blue strips have been correctly stacked and are green. If the word the student selects is incorrect, it cannot be stacked and returns to original position. I played a few rounds and found that, at times, finding the right word can be challenging. (A word of caution: words can be randomly placed until one is found that turns green.) To extend the task further, the child can be why the words are the same or opposite in meaning. If a pair of words forms a compound word, one can ask the student to use the new word in a sentence.

Ages: 12 to adult
Ratings: ++++
Developer: MochiBits
Cost: Free for 40 game stacks (one stack per game). One can purchase additional stack packs for $.99 each or all four stacks for $1.99.

Confusing Words: This is not the first time I have downloaded an app and then months later cannot find it in the app store. But I was able to find what looks to be a similar app, called “Which Word?” Both of these apps try to help untangle similar sounding words that tend to confuse such as affect and effect, passed and past or there and their. I have not downloaded Which Word? so cannot review it. However, it looks similar to Confusing Words but in a more pleasing format. Each word is defined and then used in a sentence. The confusion of similar sounds words can be most evident when students write. This app may help students better understand which word to use.

Ages: 10 to adult
Developer: Triad Interactive Media
Cost: $.99

Feel Electric: I reviewed this app a few months ago for my post on descriptive apps.  Feel Electric is animated, interactive and offers a variety of options for learning a range of 50 emotions. The student starts with What’s the Word to see faces of real people expressing each emotion. From there, the student can select her emotions at the moment, create a diary of emotions, manipulate the facial features of creature to show specific emotions and play a Mad Libs type game that, when completed, will create a zany story based on the words selected. There are three fun interactive games where the child needs to pair the facial expression with the written word. Each of these 3 games is scored. The app also allows one to add ones own pictures, music and videos. This is a great app to use with middle school students. It can be used to help tweens and teens identify and discuss a range of emotions they may be prone to feel. The app’s activities can be expanded to make this a fun language learning activity.

Ages: 5+
Rating: +++++
Developer: The Electric Company by Sesame Street
Cost: Free

(This post originally appeared on Apps for Speech Therapy)

 

Mirla Raz, CCC-SLP, is a speech pathologist in private practice (Communication Skills Center) and the author of the Help Me Talk Book: How to Teach a Child to Say the “R” Sound in 15 Easy Lessons, How to Teach a Child to Say the “S” Sound in 15 Easy Lessons, and How to Teach a Child to Say the “L” Sound in 15 Easy Lessons (also available in Kindle). Her latest endeavor is her blog Apps for Speech Therapy.

Autism Awareness Month

As April- Autism Awareness Month- draws to a close, I wanted to share a presentation I made this weekend in Florida at NOVA Southeastern University, sponsored by the Florida DOE and the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD). The focus of the presentation was technology resources (web-based and iOS) that are dedicated to or can be “re-purposed” for use with the population of students with autism at various levels of functioning.  One goal of the presentation was to place technology resources in context of intervention programs helpful for this population. Along with Dr. Robin Parker and Dr. Marlene Sotelo, we also ran an informal “App Smackdown” in which participants shared apps that they have found helpful for students with autism.  The presentation is embedded below, and a link to a supporting weblist is here, and the apps shared during the smackdown here.  I hope you find it helpful!

(Google Reader and Email subscribers, please click through on the link to the post in order to see the presentation on the blog):

 

(This post originally appeared on SpeechTechie)

Sean J. Sweeney, M.S., M.Ed., CCC-SLP, an SLP, instructional technology specialist and consultant, works in private practice at The Ely Center in Newton, Massachusetts. He is the author of the blog SpeechTechie, a contributor to the ASHA Leader, and recently took on a role as Product Development Manager for Smarty Ears Apps.


Turning Pinterest Boards Into A Therapy Activity!

If you follow me on Pinterest, you might notice I use it A LOT. A few weeks ago PediaStaff started creating boards with pictures to be used in therapy. They made boards with action pictures, pronouns, problem solving, inferencing and concepts. As soon as Heidi emailed me and told me about them, I knew I could adapt them for speech therapy on the iPad. I figured it would be way more entertaining than printing them all out! About the same time, I won an app called TapikeoHD. After playing with it for a while I realized it was perfect for the PediaStaff Pinterest boards. Let me show you what I came up with!

The app I used is called Tapikeo and available at this time for $2.99 in the app store. Tapikeo allows you create your own audio-enabled picture books, storyboards, audio flashcards, and more using a versatile grid style layout. Check it out for yourself in the itunes store here.

First I opened Pinterest on my iPad and decided I would make an activity working on labeling verbs. I opened their board for actions words.

Then I saved the pictures to my ipad by holding down on them to save.

Next you will head on over to the app and start a new grid. When you click on the empty grid square you will get a screen like this. If you want text to accompany your photo/audio (and I did because I want to support literacy skills!)  you can type that in at the top. I type ” The boy is ___.” Then select ‘browse’ to add the photos you just saved to the iPad. Then select record. For my grid I saved my voice reading “The boy is.” When I use it with younger students, all they need to do is name the verb. For older students working on full sentence generation – I can turn the sound off and they are responsible for developing the whole sentence.

Once I finished adding all my cards (it took me about 5 or 10 minutes) the board looks like this.

When the student clicks on one of the pictures, it expands to fill the screen and the audio/visual joins the picture. This is when my students identified the verb or created a new sentence!

There is also an ‘e-book’ setting where the app transfers your pictures into more of a slideshow like setting. I kept mine on the grid formation so I could work on receptive language skills at the same time. I had the students pick their picture a few different ways: by following directions with spatial concepts, by answering WH questions, or by listening to clues and making basic inferences.

These boards are easy to make in the app and PediaStaff has done most of the work finding all these great images. What other topic boards would you like to see PediaStaff create?

(This post originally appeared on Speech Room News)

 

Jenna Rayburn, M.A., CCC-SLP is a school based speech language pathologist from central Ohio. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University. Jenna is the blogger at SpeechRoomNews.blogspot.com, sharing fun treatment ideas and technology tips. Visit SpeechRoomNews on Facebook.

Maximizing the Performance of Your iPad by Closing Your Apps

Do I look tired? yeah! I guess this episode was recorded late at night and it shows. However, I think you will learn some good deal of information about closing down your apps from running in the background and therefore improving its performance.

 

 

(This post originally appeared on GeekSLP)

Barbara Fernandes is a trilingual Speech- Language pathologist, a geek  and an app developer. She is the founder and CEO of Smarty Ears Apps , a company that creates apps for speech therapy. Barbara is also the face behind GeekSLP TV, a blog and video podcast focusing on the use of technology in speech therapy. Barbara has also been a practicing speech therapist both in Brazil and in the United States. Barbara has created over 21 applications for the mobile devices for speech therapists.

iPhone 4S & Siri Personal Assistant : What’s in it for Speech Therapists and People with disabilities?

Siri for disability

Have you ever had trouble enjoying a day away from the house? The date was October 14th; my heart raced in agony and longing of home and this time it wasn’t because I missed my husband or dogs, it was because I was far away in California while my new brand new iPhone 4S sat patiently awaiting it’s techie mother back in Texas.

When the grueling heartache of the 14th was finally over, and the promise of finally seeing my new iPhone on the 15th, was a tangible dream, I rushed home from the airport to find my beautiful seek elegant iPhone 4S sitting on my table begging me to try out all of it’s new functions.

Some critics have been leery of the new iPhone being called the iPhone 4S, as opposed to the speculated “iPhone 5”, but the reality is that I do not care about what name it was given because it is definitely a huge upgrade from my previous phone iPhone 4; it is faster and it comes with a personal assistant! To paraphrase Shakespeare, “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. I won’t be crying about nomenclature decisions when I have a handful of awesomeness at my fingertips, and that awesomeness starts with Siri.

Siri, is the name given by Apple to its voice activated personal assistant on the iPhone 4S; I named mine Jane. For those of you who do not own an iPhone 4S yet, Siri allows you to dictate almost anything and it will do its own research to get you the answers. You can speak what you want and Siri will transform your speech into text. Siri is quite impressive and I can only imagine where this technology is going and all of the future possibilities.

You can watch Apple’s video ( in which they show a person with visual impairment using Siri).

I was, however, wondering how “Jane”(AKA Siri) would respond to people with speech disabilities such as individuals who stutter, who have cerebral palsy or articulation delays.  I decided to test out Siri and here are my results:

Siri and foreign accents:

I am Brazilian, and I learned English 6 years ago, so my Portuguese accent is still here and I don’t think it is going anywhere. So, testing out Siri + Foreign accents was not an obstacle to me! ;-) I have to say I am quite impressed with Siri’s ability to understand my speech (almost as good as my husband’s speech). Siri had an accuracy rate of about 97% with my speech! Impressive! I noticed it had the biggest trouble when I tried to speak specific proper nouns such as street names and people’s names.

Faking accents:  I am also really good with trying to imitate other accents, especially accents that are much more marked than mine. Again, I am impressed! I dictated a complex sentence and Siri was about 80% accurate. I can see that the major issues can be recognizing the vowel, which often leads to transforming the word into something completely different.

The possibilities: I wonder if Siri could be implemented for accent reduction by alerting the user when specific vowels/ consonants are not pronounced as the standard English accent just like Rosetta Stone Language learning software. This would open up the possibilities for several apps that can give instant speech feedback.

 

Siri for people with speech impairments:

Stuttering:

I tested Siri using a variety of different types of stuttering moments. Here are the results I got from it:

Syllable repetitions: I tried “wh-wh-wh where are you?” ; Siri interestingly completed the syllables “Wh” and made it into a “what”: here is what was typed on my text: “What what what where are you.”

Word repetitions: Siri types everything you say, so if a person repeats the word three times Siri will just accept that as a meaningful repetition.

Prolongations: Siri does much better with prolongations than with syllable repetitions. I prolonged the “I” in “I love you” for 3 seconds and Siri was great! It understood the message “ I love you”.

Blocks: Siri respond to blocks just as pauses, which is great; it does not account for any of my attempts to imitate a block.

Interjections:  I used the interject “hum” three times in a sentence; out of those three times Siri ignored two times and substituted the third by “him”.

Articulation delays/Phonology:

Siri and the “r”: Siri does NOT like the substitution of “w” for “r”; it interprets as a completely different word. I said the following phrase “ The red/wed rabbit/wabbit went to play”, here is what I got typed: The wed web it went to play”.

I tested Siri at the word level for several specific articulation/phonological errors:

Gliding:

Street/stweet: sweet

Final consonant deletion:

Hai(hair): head

Helme(helmet) : helmet

Ketchu(ketchup): cat

Siri does much better at the phrase level than at the word level; because I believe it tries to get information from the following word to make sense of a phrase. For example:

I spoke “haven’t” without the “t” and I got the word “ Hey” ; then I said “haven’t seen” without the “ t” and Siri was able to compensate for my final consonant deletion well.

Fun with Siri: I wondered how Siri would respond to my dogs’ bark. Well, it interpreted my dogs barking to “where where where where”. I wonder is that is what they are really saying. Maybe Siri is the new dog translator!?? I can only wish and hope for that in a future iOS update.

 

(This post originally appeared on GeekSLP)

 

Barbara Fernandes is a trilingual Speech- Language pathologist, a geek  and an app developer. She is the founder and CEO of Smarty Ears Apps , a company that creates apps for speech therapy. Barbara is also the face behind GeekSLP TV, a blog and video podcast focusing on the use of technology in speech therapy. Barbara has also been a practicing speech therapist both in Brazil and in the United States. Barbara has created over 21 applications for the mobile devices for speech therapists.

Thoughts on ‘Apps for Autism’

iPad on Tanmay's jeans


Photo by Chirantan Patnaik

First a disclaimer: I don’t work with patients with autism, in fact I haven’t done so since grad school, and even then I only worked with the population sparingly. iPads on the other hand, are awesome, and I use mine daily (much to my wife’s chagrin) for nearly everything (including this post) besides treatment (unless you count documentation, for which I use an iPod Touch), and that’s only because it doesn’t make much sense for my setting, not yet anyways (this is the point where I stop making parenthetical statements). But I am a speech pathologist and I do know a thing or two about communication, and that’s why I watched last Sunday’s 60 Minute segment, Apps for Autism, with much anticipation and excitement. I generally have respect for the show, but at the end, I just felt ‘meh’ about the whole piece. And let me tell you why.

When you watched the segment, did you notice the peeps with autism struggling and ultimately failing to use paper letter boards to communicate, which was immediately followed by the same person using the iPad exceptionally well to convey their message? This scenario was shown a few times throughout the piece and it felt like an As Seen On TV infomercial. Besides that, it completely ignored the decades worth of research and development that has been done in the field of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). It’s as if the Lightwriter, Dynavox, Prentke Romich, Tobii-along with a host of other companies-devices have never existed. That the idea of using technology to help people communicate is one that is original to the iPad. And that, of course, is rubbish.

It also seemed to prescribe the iPad as a panacea for autism treatment, you know, just give the kid an iPad and he’ll be on his way to communicating and that it’ll unlock an new and undiscovered portal into their minds that we never knew existed. Forget the fact that the successful use of AAC devices require training, especially for those with cognitive deficits, and forget that speech pathologists and special education teachers are needed to foster language development and literacy skills in order for the iPad to even be a viable option. A Twitter friend, @JohnduBois, said it right: “I felt it ignored the point that AAC is a tool and requires proficient users and teachers-too much “Apple magic”. Indeed sir, indeed.

And what was with that lady doing hand-over-hand assistance with the kid who had no apparent interest in the task? It was way too reminiscent of facilitated communication, and we evidence-based practitioners do no want to go there. Most likely, and hopefully, she was simply providing cues and trying to engage the kid in activity, but I cringe at even the slightest hint of FC.

For all of 60 Minute’s shortcomings, it must be said that the iPad is most definitely an inspiring piece of technology, and it is capable of capturing the attention of of children and adults alike with its boundless applications. But we need to be mindful that when teaching social skills to children, we teach them to use turn-taking skills, theory mind and what have you with people and not machines. If a child is captivated by the iPad and is able to direct their attention to something purposeful and meaningful, that’s great, but its all for naught if those skills do not generalize to the world at large.

The iPad is a wonderful and powerful tool, and has numerous applications for autism treatment, and the broader speech pathology and special education fields as well. But let’s place our focus on the end goal and not the bright and shiny gadgets that serve to facilitate such goals, lest we become victims of the latest fad and fail to view the iPad for what it is: a tool.

(This post originally appeared on slowdog)

 

Adam Slota M.A., CCC-SLP is a speech pathologist working in long term care and long term acute care settings, primarily with tracheostomy and ventilator dependent patients. He is also the author of the blog slowdog where he writes about various topics in speech pathology and beer, among other frisky and/or mundane missives.

 

 

Does Technology Inhibit Our Engagement With Children?

toddler apps


Photo by jenny downing

I had an interesting online discussion with a colleague as to whether or not technology detracts from or enhances communication. She wrote, “…communication is a relational activity, it’s all about relationships. Should we be investing so much energy on encouraging children to engage maybe more with technology than they do with people? … Do we really need all of the apps in order to engage children with spoken communication or do we need to get back to the real function of speech and language which is to connect people with people?”

As a speech path, I fully agree, to a point. But does technology disengage children from human interaction? Does our enthusiasm for the iPad, and using it in therapy, have the potential for reducing the child’s interpersonal relationship with us and others? I believe the answer is that it depends on how we use technology.

Technology is a tool like any other, but with expanded possibilities. There are apps available that can be used as a starting point for conversation. New app innovation holds the possibility of animating the standard pictures we have been using in therapy for years. I find it hard to understand why that is a negative. As with all materials available to us, it all depends on how we put them to use. Letters replaced human messengers, books replaced human storytellers, radio and television took their place alongside live entertainment. Today’s technology is another medium of interaction on this continuum.

Another colleague offered this anecdote. “At the end of school last year, I grouped two preschoolers who I had been seeing separately and at the end, we used the iPad for some free time. Boy, was I surprised at the amount of spontaneous conversation between the two boys! They shared their favorite app, described how to play it, asked questions about the other boy’s app, and made helpful suggestions. I hadn’t gotten such spontaneous language from the one student for over a year of therapy!!”

(This post originally appeared on Apps for Speech Therapy)

 

Mirla Raz, CCC-SLP, is a speech pathologist in private practice (Communication Skills Center) and the author of the Help Me Talk Book: How to Teach a Child to Say the “R” Sound in 15 Easy Lessons, How to Teach a Child to Say the “S” Sound in 15 Easy Lessons, and How to Teach a Child to Say the “L” Sound in 15 Easy Lessons (also available in Kindle). Her latest endeavor is her blog Apps for Speech Therapy.