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 Joan@innovativespeech.com.

Advertisements

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)

$125.00

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 Joan@innovativespeech.com for  for scholarship application information.

MD SLP CEUs approved for 3.25 hours


Reviews sites to learn more about iDevice Apps

January 15, 2012

I have been speaking quite a bit to private therapy practices, SLP associations, schools, hospitals and families about the iPad. I have added it to my frequently used collection of “technology tools” and bring it out with just about all of my clients in addition to a laptop computer and online interactive sites.

Once you take the plunge and shell out a considerable amount of money to purchase an iPad- the challenge becomes how to use it. What is all the hype about? Was it worth the investment? There are currently hundreds of thousands of apps. Which are best for you and your situation? How should you configure you iPad and what is the best way to do it? I help individuals and organizations, in person as well as online, learn about strategies and apps that are most appropriate for their situation- but I also strive to teach people how to continue this learning process since new apps and features are coming out every day. There are also many ways to use the iPad to help individuals who have communication, cognitive and learning challenges. The calendar, cameras, online access and features such as the contact list can be very helpful.

In my newsletters (which are free and you can sign up to receive them at www.innovativespeech.com), I write about some of my top picks for apps which are the best value for a wide range of people as well as my top picks for  individuals with specific challenges . I have only skimmed the surface with regard to helpful ways the iDevices can help people. Many people ask me what I do to learn about the apps. How do I keep up with it all? I subscribe to many listserves, blogs, and newsletters. I also connect online with Facebook and LinkedIn Groups. I probably spend at least 5-10 hours a week trying out new technologies/apps. As I prepare for new clients or to give a presentation- I make sure I am up to date on the latest technologies.To me it is fun- I really enjoy it. Finding tools to help others improve their lives is one of the activities I most enjoy about being a speech- language pathologist. I want to empower people to help themselves.

Here are a few of my favorite online resources which review apps that are helpful for individuals with communication, cognitive and literacy challenges. Check them out and let me know what you think…. these sites tend to be well organized and updated. They each have a different focus and are written by individuals or organizations with different sets of experiences, strengths and professions. Some are produced by parents, some by SLPs or teachers and some by organizations.

I’d love to hear from you at Joan@innovativespeech.com which sites you find most helpful. I will try my best to add to this list as appropriate.

Although the lists and blogs mentioned below are extremely helpful, it can  be overwhelming. If you would like a personalized in-person session in the Washington, DC area, an online coaching sessions anywhere on the globe or to find out about upcoming workshops and webinars- please send an email to jgreenslp@gmail.com, make a reservation at ist.ticketleap.com or go to www.innovativespeech.com for more information.

Once you select one of the above sites and find a few you think might be helpful- keep the following tips in mind…

Reviews- On the iTunes store there are often helpful reviews and ratings shared by users of the app that can shed unique insights on how they use the app. I also often do a Google search for reviews of the app.

Company Website-Most app pages include a link to the developer’s website. Check it out. Some have reviews on their site and provide instructions and videos on their site or linke to You Tube demo or instructional videos.

Free and Lite Version– Many of the more expensive apps offer limited versions of their product which are a great way to find out if the app is a good match for your situation. Sometimes the difference is that here are no advertisements or requests for in app purchases.

Intended Use- Some apps are produced solely for entertainment and reinforcement, some to improve specific behaviors and some to compensate for areas of weakness. There are apps that are more appropriate for children and others for adults. Some apps are best used by professionals and others are fine for the individuals with the impairments to use on their own. I have found that how I use the app with a client is often at least as important as the quality of the app itself.


The World of Apps- They keep on coming!

November 18, 2011

My thoughts on some of the challenges of using apps to help individuals with communication and learning impairments

It’s astounding how much this new world of apps is changing the way I do therapy and run my practice. iPad apps. Droid apps. Google apps. Android apps. Mac apps. They just keep on coming!

I recently gave up my Blackberry for my first iPhone- the iphone 4s just began to explore my KindleFire which arrived a few days ago, ordered a Velocity Micro Cruz Android 7 inch Tablet on Woot two days ago for a deep discount of $70.00, and am about to get a hand-me-down Mac from one of my kids that I will upgrade to run the Lion operating system so I can start to learn about Mac apps rather than just read about them. I strive to use all apps prior to suggesting them to clients or speaking about them in my presentations. In my spare time while I take my son to swimming practice or my daughter to piano lessons, I find myself bringing along my iPad 1 or iPad 2 with headphones to review apps.

My private practice has constantly evolved over the past 19 years, but lately there has been so much to learn I find myself spending more and more time keeping up with the cutting-edge technologies. I feel like I have become an “app consultant.” Calls keep coming in. Everyone wants to know which apps are right for their situations. It’s overwhelming to start from scratch in the iTunes store, Mac Apps store, Amazon store for Kindle Fire apps or Android Marketplace. An increasing number of bloggers feature their favorite apps and offer reviews, but there again, the lists now are quite long. Apps are usually not very expensive except for some of the AAC apps or very robust professionally developed apps, but the cost adds up quickly and it takes time to download and give them a try.

Yesterday I talked to families about apps to help: a woman who had a brain tumor removed, another woman who has memory loss, a man with aphasia and apraxia after a stroke, a 5 year old boy with severe autism, a 3 year old boy with Down syndrome, a 12 year old boy with executive functioning challenges and an 8 year old girl with severe apraxia of speech. I can’t offer concrete guidance on the phone. I have to see each person, learn about their individual strengths and weaknesses as well as goals and interests, explore their environments, speak to others who help them in daily activities and try out what I think may work with the person before sending them on their way with apps that are customized as needed to practice. With each new client I find myself doing research to make sure they have the latest information. I am also preparing for a few presentations and it is incredible how much has changed since the last full day presentation I gave just this past summer. No two presentations are ever alike. Too much changes.

Although I truly believe that the new tablets have quite a bit to offer and may be the most appropriate tool to use in a variety of activities- they aren’t always the most appropriate solution and there are still plenty of challenges to be faced. Some recent publicity has made them appear to be the perfect solution when, in reality, many hurdles still have to be jumped. We can’t forget about the often more robust computer programs which may be more effective for cognitive retraining, reading and studying, communicating or writing essays.

Here are a few of my concerns and thoughts regarding app use and the reasons why I don’t have generic lists of apps to recommend for different diagnoses:

  • It is challenging to select the most appropriate apps as well as online programs and other technology tools to make sure that they are a good fit for the client and their needs and interests.
  • There are some apps that the user is meant to practice with alone, apps that are more appropriate to be used by an education or rehabilitation professional, apps which need to be customized to be effective, and apps which don’t work directly on the skills to be developed but which are great to use for joint attention or to encourage interaction while working on skills in person.
  • Many individuals need to be behaviorally managed while using the apps. These individuals may try to exit the apps, mistakenly touch the wrong locations and need skilled human intervention (with good training from a clinician such as a speech-language pathologist) to maximize the benefit from them.
  • Not everyone has the motor control to interact with apps and may need special accommodations such as switches for input or a different type of device.
  • Insurance companies and schools are now starting to suggest iPads be used as primary dedicated communication devices when children or adults can’t speak, when a more robust dedicated communication device (which is typically much more expensive and takes longer to acquire) with integrated environmental controls, and features to accommodate for poor motor control or learning abilities may be more appropriate. Finding the most effective communication tool is a process and setting it up, teaching the client how to use it and integrating it into daily routines to promote communication skills takes time and expertise. In most cases purchasing an iPad and an app to use is just the beginning and may not always be most appropriate but is often the least expensive and easiest way to provide fast access to a communication tool. In some cases using it as an intermediate step or backup system is more appropriate.
  • Individuals who are “let loose” with a tablet computer to entertain themselves are often difficult to pull back and structure in therapy tasks using apps on the device.
  • If the iPad is going to be an individual’s primary means of communication, these individuals need another device with a different color cover to use as a learning tool or for entertainment. There are now less expensive devices such as the Kindle Fire which makes having two a more affordable option.
  • It is important to keep in mind that if an individual does have a tablet such as an iPad, we should take advantage of the many wonderful integrated tools it has to enhance learning, executive functioning and communication. There is a calendar, address book, still camera, video camera, email, Internet access and many accessibility options such as enlarging print and reading aloud. When used creatively these are also really wonderful supports for individuals with communication, cognitive, learning and literacy challenges.

I’d really like to hear from those of you who are reading this to let me know which apps or computer software/ websites you use and find helpful and whether or not you agree with my concerns. It’s one of my favorite parts about speaking to large groups of people and interacting with you all online. I am always learning from everyone else.

I can be reached at Joan@innovativespeech.com if you would like to discuss the possibility of setting up an individual consultation or  webinar/presentation for your group or organization.


Signing Time Apple App

June 1, 2011

There are many sign language apps available and several which are targeted toward helping young children. I have recently been working with a few young children who are using signs/gestures to facilitate the development of expressive language.  I have also been helping a couple of speech-language pathologists explore apps to help make speech therapy more fun and everyone has really been enjoying this app when I show it to them.

 Signing time app

Lately, I find myself using Signing Time app the most often. It was produced by Rachel Colemen. According to her website, prior to producing this series of products, Rachel was writing music and performing with her folk rock band. She then had a child who at the age of 14 months was found to be deaf. She mmediately began to study American Sign Language and to teach it to her daughter. As it says on her blog, by the time her daughter was 18 months old, her sign language vocabulary far surpassed the spoken vocabulary of hearing children her same age. Rachel had a second daughter who was born with spina bifida and cerebral palsy. Rachel was told this daughter would never speak, but after much work- after two years of no communication, Rachel’s second daughter Lucy began to sign along with Signing Time, despite her physical challenges. Shortly thereafter, Lucy started talking. At age five, Lucy attended mainstream Kindergarten, something Rachel never imagined possible.

The application contains a collection of 48 flash cards with  accompanying video demonstrations and an explanation of how to perform the sign and tips on how to remember it. It also includes very engaging music videos. After watching the videos a couple of times they begin to learn the signs and are stimulated to use their voices to interact with what they see on the screen.

From the main menu, users can search a list of signs or type in a word. There are only basic signs included. Other apps are more appropriate for more extensive dictionaries. A unique feature of this app is that there is a challenge section in which you select one of 4 possible meanings of the pictured sign. Progress can be tracked.

Other Sign Language apps I have used include:

Baby Sign

Baby Signing

Smart hands

iSign


Talking Tom Cat Free App

March 30, 2011

Recently, I have been using this free app all the time during speech therapy sessions with children- very young and older.  Everyone ends up laughing- it’s a great way to entice a reluctant child to participate. They love Tom the cat and often come to our next session asking for it! It is extremely motivating for encouraging children to vocalize, working to improve breath support for speech, and practicing saying sounds. I’ve even had kids who are working on high level language skills try to give the cat directions on how to follow a difficult task and then have the cat repeat back each direction or tell back parts of a story and the child pretends they are the teacher:)

Children can touch the cat  and it purrs. One aspect of the app I did not like is that when children touched it too hard, the cat reacted as if it were being hit and I didn’t want to joke around about that. I was quite pleased to discover in the settings section that that the “violence” feature could be turned off. Users can also change the setting for a longer listening time and record the cat for up to 45 seconds and then post the video on YouTube or send it in an email. Children can also interact with the cat and offer it a drink. Younger ones often respond well when asked to teach the cat to count to 10.  It helps them remember to speak slowly in small chunks.  There are also a few other talking friends available:)

Here is the iTunes link for Apple app…Click Here
Here is the link to download the Droid app.. Click here

To learn more about my new book which highlights apps, software, websites and other cutting-edge technologies Click here


Now Available!! The Ultimate Guide to Assistive Technology in Special Education

March 26, 2011

My new book is now available which highlights effective resources for education, intervention and rehabilitation. It can be ordered from www.prufrock.com or www.amazon.com.

In this easy to read 250 page paperback book which sells for $39.95, I highlight interactive multi-sensory software, Apps, and cool new cutting edge devices that can be used to help improve speaking, understanding, reading, writing, executive functioning skills, learning and memory. All the info was updated just  before it went to press.  Technology changes fast, but this guide is a great way to get started learning more about the many ways powerful affordable technologies can maximize progress.  It’s great for individuals who are struggling as well as those who just want to benefit from all technology has to offer!

I wrote this book for families as well as professionals to help everyone zero in quickly on the tools and resources which can be used to improve communication, cognition and literacy.  I  provide a brief description and information about where to learn more about many wonderful products, strategies and websites for people of all ages who have speech and language related issues, are “twice exceptional”, “on the spectrum”, who have ” learning disabilities”,  who have been classified as “gifted” and who have had strokes,  head injuries or other illness  which may have caused a delay or disorder relating to speech, language or learning. Everyone has “special needs.” Differentiated instruction is the way to go in terms of maximizing the potential of each individual. Everyone has different learning styles, interests, strengths and weaknesses. Many parents, caregivers, therapists and educators realize that the use of technology is very motivating for young children, older students and adults, but they don’t know where to start in the search for the most appropriate technology tools for their situation.

This book features:

  • My favorite 45 Apple apps out of over 350,000 which are currently available from iTunes.com
  • Over 125 carefully selected software programs
  • More than 40 free online interactive websites

In addition to specific chapters focusing on technology and strategies to improve verbal expression, auditory comprehension, reading, writing, cognition, learning and memory, this guide includes information and resources about:

  • switch software
  • dedicated communication devices
  • voice amplifiers and a clarifier
  • accessible cell and landline phones
  • videoconferencing
  • captioning
  • assistive listening devices
  • text readers
  • word based talking word processors with assistive reading, writing and studying tools
  • picture based talking word processors
  • alternative book formats
  • adapted online newspapers
  • portable eBook readers
  • reading aloud handheld devices
  • word prediction programs
  • online dictionaries
  • graphic organizers
  • typing programs
  • voice recognition software
  • recording pen
  • digital calendars
  • time management tools
  • online document sharing
  • online flashcards
  • social bookmarking and annotation
  • online collaboration
  • adapted email
  • specialized search engines and web browsers
This book highlights a wide range of resources that are appropriate for children as well as adults who have a wide range of communication, cognitive and literacy challenges including aphasia and deteriorating illnesses even though the cover makes it appear that it is most appropriate for students.

To continue to be informed of new helpful affordable technologies as they become available free free to sign up for my free e-newsletter at www.innovativespeech.com. I am proud to say that there are approximately 7,000 other subscribers:)