Talking Temptations- Strategies and a few apps that promote the urge to speak

June 7, 2012

During speech therapy sessions with children and adults with severely impaired communication skills, one of my primary challenges is setting up situations that promote the urge to talk. As parents, therapists and educators, when helping individuals who have significant communication challenges, we need to set up an environment that gives the individual a reason to talk and make sure to give individuals enough wait time so that they can initiate speech.  Most of us often know what a person is trying to say and help meet their needs to avoid conflict or make life easier, but there are times that it is more appropriate and therapeutic to actively intervene so that there is more of a reason for the person to initiate a communicate attempt.

There are quite a few methods for doing this. We can sabotage the situation- place something in full view but out of reach that we know the person wants, give them something broken that they need to have fixed or engage them in a pleasurable activity such as swinging on a swing, listening to music or playing a fun game- then suddenly stop the activity. Lots of praise for communicative attempts is critical to promote communication- as is providing frequent opportunities for communication during enjoyable activities. If communication does break down- we try to give just enough help for success. It’s important once the communication is repaired- to then review what happened and practice what the individual could have done or said to communicate the desired message.

I use these techniques with a wide range of individuals- young and not so young individuals with autism spectrum disorder ( ASD), adults with aphasia and individuals with dementia or other cognitive challenges. The initiation of communication is critical for quality of life- and often quite a challenge to establish.

I encourage families, teachers and therapists to create situations throughout the day during everyday activities such as morning rituals, mealtimes, work/school and leisure activities.

When using the iPad- I have recently been using quite a wide variety of apps to create these temptations. Of course- the selection depends on the interests and motivations of the client. For individuals with more advanced communication abilities- these same apps can be used to give each other directions or describe what has happened in the app or what they are about to do.

Here are a few of the apps I have recently been using to generate or improve communicative interactions:

YouTube-    on my iPad I have saved many great videos in the “favorites” section for easy viewing. At times I might pause them engage in comments about what we see. I may offer written word choices using paper/pencil, include targeted vocabulary in an AAC app or provide hands on prompting to facilitate accurate verbal productions. Older clients often like “Dancing with the Stars” , while younger ones often respond to amusing Disney clips or favorite singers. Whenever possible I try to find funny clips to promote enjoyment.


Cut the Rope or Where’s My Water– These two apps are very popular with just about all clients. I hold the iPad and encourage clients to say words such as “dig” , “cut” etc prior to interacting with the app. Hand over hand guidance may be needed for individuals with limb apraxia- but many people young and old love these apps.

  My PlayHome and Cookie Doodle- These apps are not “drill and practice” , but offer motivating ways to engage clients with motivating fun activies. I try hard not to have individuals repeat what I say- but facilitate their production of utterances to make things happen. An example might be “Dad on swing” , “Baby bounce” or “eat cookie.”

Below I have listed a a few websites, blogs and videos that do a great job of presenting ideas about how to create communication temptations and facilitate communicative interactions. I am sure there are many more.

Top 5 Ways to Encourage Spontaneous Language

Communication Temptations: How Use Your Environment to Get Your Child Talking

8 Ways to get your Child to Speak

Communication Temptations

How to make communication temptations really work

Activities to Encourage Speech and Language Development

If you know of other sites or videos that illustrate the use of communication temptations to encourage verbal initiative- please email me at

Introductory Interactive iPad Workshop with Joan L. Green, M.A.CCC-SLP

June 6, 2012

 iPad Insights and Implementation Strategies to Improve Communication, Cognition, Literacy and Learning

Thursday October 25, 2012

Rockville, MD 10:30 AM- 2:30 PM ( 45 min.  break for lunch)


Click Here to Reserve a Seat

The morning will begin with an introduction to the many helpful features of the iPad and an overview of how the iPad and iPhone can be used to help children and adults with communication and learning challenges.  During the workshop, Joan  will demonstrate  many helpful features of iDevices and her top app picks for helping others to have fun while maximizing learning and quality of life.  A wide variety of Innovative Technology Treatment Solutions will be presented.

Participants are encouraged to bring their iPads and iPhones and to use them  as Joan presents an overview of her most recent cutting-edge motivating approach for using the iPad to help individuals of all ages with and without special needs including:

  • autism spectrum disorders
  • learning disabilities
  • speech and language delays and disorders
  • twice exceptional learning challenges
  • executive functioning weaknesses
  • aphasia
  • apraxia
  • dyslexia
  • dysgraphia
  • dementia
  • traumatic brain injury

The day will include strategies and suggestions for approaches to improve speaking, understanding, reading, writing, thinking, remembering, socializing, organizing and learning. Participants will be encouraged to actively collaborate throughout the day.

A limited number of professional, graduate student and family scholarships are available. Contact for  for scholarship application information.

MD SLP CEUs approved for 3.25 hours

Rainbow Sentence iDevice App

April 12, 2012

Rainbow sentences was developed by Kyle Tomson who founded the Mobile Education Store which offers a series of excellent educational apps. This app is a great tool to work on reading comprehension and sentence structure as well as verbal expression. Color coded visual cues accompany engaging graphics to help users produce grammatically correct sentences. There are 6 levels of sentence complexity and 165 images from which to create sentences. I find that I can use this with a wide range of clients due to the flexible nature of the app. Creative users can use it to work on written expression, visual scanning and eliciting verbal narrative in addition to reading comprehension and sentence formulation.

The user is presented with a colorful picture with text below- which may be color coded or grouped to simplify the task.  The text is spoken aloud as it is dragged to the space above the picture to create sentences. Once the sentence is created the user is prompted to record the sentence in their own voice and these recording can be saved or emailed. Successful sentence completion is rewarded with a puzzle piece to encourage continued play and the puzzle comes to life at the end of the level.

I have been using this app with students as well as adults. The app costs $7.99.

To view a video of the app in action  and a demonstration of the various options/settings click here.

First Phrases App by Hamaguchi Apps for Speech, Language and Auditory Development

April 12, 2012

First Phrases HD by Hamguchi Apps for Speech, Language and Auditory Development is a wonderful interactive animated app for individuals who need to improve expressive language skills as well as a variety of cognitive skills. I have used it to improve direct selection on an iPad, visual perception, sequencing, speech intelligibility and expansion of utterance length.

The app is essentially the user telling the cute animals what to do either by touching pictures or using speech. There are different options, but typically  the user touches one or more pictures of actions or objects ( or sequences them in the higher levels)  and then views a video of a character doing something such as cutting paper or drinking water. There is then the opportunity to record the individual reciting the command and then the character does what it is told. There is not a voice recognition component- the iPad does not judge the accuracy of the verbal response- it only records what it said.  Humor is embedded throughout the app.

The app is great for working on sentence structure and building sentences. There are 17 simple verbs such as “drink” and 12 verb plus prepositions such as “jump on” . Each verb is paired with nouns  to make logical phrases that can be pictured. Up to 15 users can be added to the app.

I find myself using this app with children as well as adults who have aphasia as well as apraxia and dysarthria and find it quite amusing and helpful. I have also used it with children who present with severe ASD (autism spectrum disorder) who are engaged by the colorful animations and helped by the visual presentation of language and need help with cause and effect as well as comprehension.

When downloading the app, I suggest that you first try the lite version which is $.99 to make sure it is a good fit for your goals. The full version is $9.99. The “HD” version indicates that it is for the iPad. If you find it helpful to view the app in action prior to using it – I recommend clicking here.

There are very few apps such as this which use video to enhance language skills and give true meaning to verbalizations or direct selection of items on the screen. The full app does require a large amount of memory and is best loaded directly from iTunes or WIFI if possible- rather than via 3G.

Using Free Online Humorous Videos to Enhance Speech Therapy

February 20, 2012


Golden Loves Guitar

Mr. Bean Goes to the Swimming Pool( small ad first)

Mr Bean Goes to the Dentist

Two Dogs in a Restaurant

In past newsletters I mentioned quite a few drill and practice programs and apps that I frequently use to improve speech, language and cognition as well as more open-ended/creative products to work on goals such as initiation, turn taking, novel sentence formulation, asking questions, following directions and play.

I realize that not everyone has an iDevice. Today I want to share wtih you some free online videos I have been using in therapy. They can be accessed with an iDevice or just about any computer, tablet or Smartphone that has Internet access. I have selected them because they are generally just a few minutes long and involve humor. I generally watch the entire video once then pause it frequently to interact with my client on a wide variety of goals as we view it again.

Some goals I may have for this session may include:

  • Improving joint attention to a task
  • Naming items pictured or pointing to appropriate pictures on an AAC device or printed out
  • Formulating sentences to describe what they saw
  • Remembering details shown
  • Asking and answering questions about what happened on the video
  • Discussing displayed emotions and practice analyzing the perspective of others
  • Reflecting on other situations/scenarios peopel have encountered similar to the one pictured.
I’d love to hear from you if you have favorite humorous videos that you use as part of your therapy or just enjoy watching. I find that these videos keep sessions fun and interactive:) They provide a great source of material to stimulate conversation and progress toward goals:)

e2 B o o k R e v i e w The Ultimate Guide to Assistive Technology in Special Education

February 20, 2012

January/February 2012

Book by Joan L. Green, M.A., CCC-SLP

Published by Prufrock Press, 2011
Format: 221 pages, 10×7 inches, paperbound; also available in
electronic versions
Joan L. Green must be something of a pack rat when it comes to gathering information about hardware and
software in the category of assistive technology. We’d love to know whether her office desk is covered with little notes
and pieces of paper about the hundreds of resources she covers in her book The Ultimate Guide to Assistive Technology
in Special Education, or whether she’s just fiercely well-organized electronically. Green, a speech and language pathologist, offers her
compendium of assistive technologies in order to “empower individuals with literacy, learning, and communication differences.” Among the groups whose lives she hopes to improve are those with autism, learning differences, and cognitive deficits. Her goal is to create opportunities and remove performance barriers. Covering a Range of Challenges The first three chapters provide an overview of the power of technology, the benefits of assistive technology, and the various classes of hardware and software useful in assistive technology. (Chapter 2, on benefits, is available online at the Prufrock website.) Those are followed by seven chapters covering A.T. that can help with specific challenges:

• Verbal expression (two chapters)
• Auditory comprehension
• Reading comprehension
• Reading skills
• Written expression
• Cognition, learning, and memory.

The book concludes with chapters on games and online activities; Internet communication and learning tools;
and adapted e-mail, search engines, and browsers.

A Sample Chapter

A look at a sample chapter gives a good idea of Green’s approach in her book. The chapter “Treatment
and Technology to Improve Written Expression” opens by identifying when written expression may be a problem —
for example, in those with LDs, strokes, or other cognitive challenges. Green then lists the skills involved in written
expression and suggests that low-tech options such as pencil grips be considered as well as high-tech. After stressing why written writing skills are important, she then presents strategies and resources to improve writing, starting with software and apps for drill-and-practice. For each of 16 drill-and-practice writing A.T. apps, the chapter provides the app name, platform (Apple, Window,
etc), price, and bullet-point descriptions of the features of the app. Here’s an example:

Story Patch By Haywoodsoft
• Apple app
• This is a story creator designed with the goal of
helping kids create stories on their own or with
the help of a template.
• The user first titles the story, then selects a
theme such as “a trip to the zoo” or builds his
story independently.
• If the templates are used, questions are
presented with possible answers and the user
selects her response to create a unique story.
• There is an image library with more than 800
images grouped into 47 categories to create
settings for each page.
• A character designer or personal pictures can be
used to create the characters in the story.
• $4.99

The chapter continues with sections on:
• Software to improve spelling
• Word processors as a way to help the writing process
• Picture-based and talking word processors
• Word prediction programs
• Dictionaries
• Graphic organizers
• Technology to help with the physical aspect of writing
and typing
• Speech-to-text and voice recognition
• Additional tools to help with written expression.

All in all, the chapter covers over 70 tools

Putting A.T. to Work
Realizing that a book captures technology as it was at a particular moment in time, Green describes her book as a
starting point, recommending that readers visit the websites cited within the book for up-to-date information. Green
also offers an e-newsletter and a couple websites which can help keep aspiring A.T. consumers current. Green also notes
that obtaining professional guidance may be desirable depending on the condition being addressed.

This book is likely to prove to be a useful starting point for many parents and educators of twice-exceptional children in
the search for resources to help those children overcome their challenges

Assistive Technology for the 2e ( Twice Exceptional) Learner- Interview of Joan L. Green and how she helps students

February 20, 2012

( This article was written by J. Mark Bade as a Featured Topic in the newletter  Assistive Technology for the 2 e Learner ) in the Jan/Feb, 2012 issue)

Are you looking for a way to help that gifted child you raise or teach who has an executive function disorder?  How about the one with a reading problem? Or the one with an expressive language disorder?Joan Green

Joan L. Green, of the Washington, DC, area, is the go-to person for many parents, therapists, and schools who need to figure out what’s in that lengthy evaluation they’ve received about a gifted child who just isn’t achieving in one or more areas. Without the right intervention, that child could wind up in a downward spiral that affects both academic abilities and self-esteem.

Green’s specialty is the application of assistive technology (A.T.) to speech, language, literacy, and cognitive difficulties that may interfere with learning and personal growth. She is a speech and language pathologist with a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s School of Speech, who began her career in the late 1980s working with adults who had had strokes or head injuries. As computer technology improved, tools became available that empowered patients to work on their own, with immediate feedback from the  program. For example, Green successfully used a program meant to teach English as a second language to help her clients who suffered from aphasia, which involves problems understanding or expressing language.

With the advent of the Internet and the spread of computers into just about every household, such assistive technology became much more sophisticated, available, and affordable. Today, says Green, she has explored about 1600 applications to find the “treasures” that might help her clients — and that’s just for Apple’s iPad, which she thinks is a great tool.

A.T. and 2e Kids

The twice-exceptional children Green sees are gifted, of course, and tend to have good technical skills. That’s an advantage, because they pick up on things fast, says Green, helping avoid that downward spiral.
Most of the interventions Green offers are short-term, but she is also available for the long haul if that’s what’s needed. She fits the scope of her services to the need and to the family’s budget, and makes an effort to emphasize free or economical A.T. choices. Her goal is to empower parents, students, therapists, and other education professionals with the knowledge of cutting-edge affordable technologies. She helps people find the right tools and strategies for implementing a recommended intervention, all while making life as easy as possible for everyone involved.

Successful implementation, she says, is critical. “You can’t just give someone a product or a list of potential technology tools and expect them to be able to use them without help knowing which is best and how and when to use the technology.”

When the parents of a 2e child come to Green, she will usually receive evaluation reports containing recommendations for using assistive technology. Green’ advantage, she says, is that there are not that many people who can implement those recommendations. Her success stems from the way she can combine her knowledge of:

  • Communication disorders
  • Psychology (for example, motivation)
  • The educational process
  • The use of assistive technology hardware and software to address communication disorders.

Finding “The App for That”

A typical case may start with a half-hour phone conversation between Green and the parents. The parents then make available the reports and documentation Green needs to fully understand other professionals’ appraisals of the child’s situation.

Next may come a two-hour in-person or online brainstorming session with the parents about potential ways to address the child’s needs; the parents, after all, have good insight into the child’s interests, routines, and motivation. Green may show and suggest potential assistive technology tools at this point.

Joan Green’s favorite A.T. tools include the following:

  • Apple’s iPad with its bounty of apps
  • Notability, a note-taking app for the iPad. It includes audio recording, word processing, handwriting, and PDF annotation.
  • The Livescribe smartpen, which records audio at the same time it’s being used to take notes on special paper. The notes and audio are synchronized. Tapping the pen on the notes takes you to that part of the audio recording.
  • Google Apps, an in-the-cloud collection of “email and collaboration tools” that includes word processing and other common “office” tools. Green especially likes the sharable calendar features, handy for students with executive function issues.
  • WordQ+SpeakQ, a writing solution integrating word prediction, text to speech, and voice recognition.

Then, in individual in-person sessions with the student, Green will help the student learn the tools needed to implement the intervention strategies. This session may take place in Joan’s office in Potomac, Maryland, or in the student’s own home or school in the greater Washington, DC area. For example, she might choose a drill-and-practice tool combined with a word retrieval tool to improve skills in spelling. Another strategy might involve a word prediction tool or text-to-speech to help improve a student’s expressive skills. The areas in which Green uses technology to improve student behavior include:

  • Following directions
  • Learning grammar and punctuation
  • Speaking more clearly
  • Enhancing spelling and vocabulary
  • Practicing writing
  • Studying for tests
  • Researching on the Internet
  • Improving organization, sequencing, and reasoning.

Green’s use of A.T. is not limited to interventions to accommodate a specific learning challenge. She may also implement interventions that focus on augmenting a student’s learning in a particular topic by enhancing the student’s interest and motivation. Not only does technology make the intervention fun, says Green, the right technology can also get around the I-don’t-want-to-be-different problem. Carrying around an iPad rather than a laptop for in-class accommodations, for example, is “cool.” Such interventions may play to a student’s strengths, helping to keep the student engaged in school and enhancing self-esteem.

A.T. for Teachers

Sometimes Green goes into the student’s classroom to observe and may have one-on-one sessions with the student’s teacher to explain the intervention and the tools used. Or, she may present to a group of teachers at school.

Green says that most parents now realize how assistive technology can help their children and expect schools to use that technology. Teachers, however, obviously face lots of demands on their time and may have trouble keeping up with the explosion in A.T. solutions. That’s where Green can help the school, perhaps by assessing the school’s technological capabilities, determining gaps in those capabilities, and suggesting alternative ways to achieve goals, like differentiated instruction, in the classroom. By projecting her iPad screen, Green can demonstrate for the staff how to use technology tools and how to find useful resources on the Internet.

And A.T. for Professionals

Green also presents to other professionals on the topic, which she views as one way to keep up with technology — by making sure her presentation is up to date every time.

Green has written a book on assistive technology which is reviewed elsewhere in this newsletter. She also offers a free e-newsletter on the topic, featuring applications and programs with good value. Interested readers may sign up for it at

Joan L. Green may be reached through her website, by e-mail at, or by phone at 301.602.2899. She Tweets under @jgreenslp Text Box: 2e