Bottom Line: My son has autism and for his first five or six years he had limited speech language so we worked with several AAC apps trying to find the one that he wanted to work with. After finding a good match, we did a summer of intense AAC training and by the time school started again, thanks to AAC, he had gained enough speech language to only need the support occasionally. Today, at age nine, he can express himself in full sentences. AAC use should be available to all families who feel the need for it and when I come across an AAC program that is customizable, with many features and has not only affordable choices for payment but a wonderful two-month free trial, I'm in the fan club.
Tuesday, November 8, 2016
Monday, July 18, 2016
Featured App: How Do You Know? teaches children critical thinking and inferential skills with over 500 pictures and questions.
This handy app for iPad and iPhone helps children decide what they are looking at based on clues they see. By choosing the best answer for each picture, children are tapping into critical thinking skills and are learning how to describe why they have chosen their answers. This app is great for young users but also very valuable to special needs students who need an extra push answering "How?" and "Why?" questions and finishing sentences that begin with, "Because..". The $4.99 price tag also makes this app very accessible to users on a budget.
If you would like to download this app, please use this link and support Smart Apps for Kids:
Google Play ($4.99)
Amazon App Store ($4.99)
This app has no ads, no in-app purchases and no external links.
Our beautiful Ellie recorded a demonstration video for your viewing pleasure so you can see the app in action:
The app opens to a home screen where users can choose start, settings, reports or information. In start, new users can be created or chosen from previously using the app. There are no pics, just user names in this section and set-up is quick and painless. Type a name, click next then users are taken to settings for that user where audio cue, sounds, "Let's Talk About It" and manual scoring can be turned off or on. The audio cue refers to narration of text and sound settings turn the cheerleading responses and sound effects off or on. Manual scoring leaves scoring to be recorded off screen and the Let's Talk About It feature can be turned on so that no answers or choices are given which pushes users to create their own responses.
Once a user has been chosen play can begin. There are 16 categories to choose from including places, occupations, emotions, activities, conditions & states of being, events, time & holidays, weather, animals and variants of those listed. There is also an option to have a category chosen at random. Once a category is chosen, users pick how many questions will be in the set ranging from one to fourteen. Students are then shown a picture with a question. There are three choices listed below (unless the option has been chosen to answer verbally) and these are all narrated if that option has been selected. For instance, "What is the event?" and then three answers of "concert, marathon, play" are the choices. When an incomplete choice is made, a sound effect is played and users are encouraged to look again. A correct choice asks another question to explain the choice, "How do you know? Because I see..." followed by three more choices that may or may not describe the scene above. Answers are calculated and saved. Reports can be accessed in the reports section by clicking the user name. The first glimpse of the reports are dates, categories, quantity of questions and scores. By clicking on a specific category, the report expands to show number of tries, settings and questions. This can be emailed from within the app and read by recipients without needing to have the app installed.
How Do You Know? targets the following language goals (as stated in the general information section of the app): "question comprehension (who, what, where, when and how), verbal reasoning strategies to make inferences, critical thinking skills to distinguish key details, build vocabulary and semantic knowledge, use pictures to build concept imagery, recognize and label associated vocabulary, practice reading comprehension at sentence level, verbal reasoning skills.". Speech therapists, parents and teachers will be amazed at the ease with which they and their students can use this app as well as how helpful it is trying to get students to make the connection between simple answers and explaining those answers. For just $4.99 a lot of help is at your fingertips.
Cynthia added this app to her son's device so she feels like she's still educating her kiddo over the summer. *Smart Apps for Kids was paid a promotional fee for this post.
Bottom Line: Custom boards is a great time saving app meant for any age. This app allows you to create unique and individualized materials for just about anything, including articulation, expressive language, receptive language, fluency, and any other idea you can think of! Materials can also be easily saved and shared with others.
If you would like to download this app, please use this link to support Smart Apps for Kids:
Links to social media (facebook, twitter, and pinterest), as well as additional apps under the support section, no ads, no in-app purchases.
Smarty Ears has created another great app with Custom Boards. While this is not a new app (first released in 2012), I wish I had known about it so much sooner! To begin, this is not your “normal” app. You may not be opening up the iPad and using this directly with your child or client (but you certainly can!), I feel this is meant to create and print materials to use.
There are six different areas to choose from when making your custom board: activities and games, devices and switches, signs and labels, grids and boards, schedules and calendars, and worksheets. With more than 126 templates and growing, you can create a daily schedule, bingo, dice, sudoku, or create your own interactive book. The options are endless! You will be able to create materials for any goal area including articulation, grammar, sequencing, synonyms/antonyms, fluency and overlays for several different communication devices. Seriously, this list could go on and on! Articulation may be the easiest because the images are sorted by category but then can be sorted by initial, medial, or final sounds. If you find the 10,000 images in the app are not enough, you can also add pictures from Google or your camera.
While it is great for therapists, it can also be beneficial for parents and teachers! Parents may want this for additional practice, while teachers may create their own activities, including graphic organizers, sequencing, spelling, etc.
In my time using apps, I have truly found two or three apps that I could honestly say I love. After using this app, I will tell you Custom Boards will be added to this list. Why did I love this app so much? The major reason is because it will save me time. As a busy speech language pathologist, I don’t always have time to sort through five different books to find materials to work on and/or send home. I can’t tell you the number of game boards and hide and seek games that I created from scratch last year. Custom Boards will take of all of that! Seriously, no more standing in front of the copier resizing images, followed by cutting, taping, copying all over again (I know I am not the only one who does this). With Custom Boards, I was able to make a few different activities in less than 5 minutes! The only reason I did not give this app 5 stars is due to the price. While it is a great app, Custom Boards is expensive and may cause some people to hesitate to purchase it.
Custom boards is a great time-saving app meant for any age. This app allows you to create unique and individualized materials for just about anything, including articulation, expressive language, receptive language, fluency and any other idea you can think of! Materials can also be easily saved and shared with others.
Jenni is a speech language pathologist and guest reviewer on Smart Apps for Kids.
Monday, April 18, 2016
Bottom Line: This app makes assessments very simple to conduct for figuring out personalized motivators for each client as well as keeping that information in one easy to navigate space. Although the app works well with no bugs, be aware of how the app is going to be used and how often as cost may become an issue.
If you would like to download this app, please support Smart Apps for Kids and use this handy link:
This app has no ads, no external links and in-app purchases.
ABA Preference opens to a log-in screen where users can create an account for the first use and then just login thereafter. After logging in, users are in the dashboard section of the app where they can create clients or view clients in a list ordered by name, diagnosis or company. To create a client, users input the first name and first initial of the last name, date of birth, diagnosis, and school or company. App users can also add a photo of the client. Once the client is saved, he or she also appears in the view clients section. By choosing a client in this section, there are several choices: the client information can be shared (emailed), a new assessment can be created or a history of assessments for this client can be viewed. The app also provides a "How To" section to explain how to create and administer the assessment.
To create an assessment, therapists can use photos from the device camera roll or take pictures in-app. There are six spots for pictures and each can be cropped as needed. During an assessment, clients are shown pairs of items and have to choose one. After the choices have run their course, the app presents the pictures in order of desirability to the client along with the percentage of times each photo was chosen. This information can be emailed along with a pre-written explanation about what an assessment is for and how it is performed. I have included a faux assessment I performed with my cat, Norbert, as a client for illustrative purposes. When making assessments, I would have loved having access to a library in-app as that would be a huge time-saver with much better photos than I take.
The app costs .99 initially and comes with five credits. Credits are used to create assessments, one at a time. Here is why that is important. I have created an assessment for a client and several months later, his preference for certain items seems to have changed. I can not simply reuse a previous assessment. I must create a new assessment, even if the objects are the same and use another credit. There are several choices for purchasing credits, single credit purchases at .99 each, ten credits for $6.99 or the premium package of unlimited credits for a monthly subscription of $19.99.
The app is cleanly laid out and easy to navigate with no bugs. Although there are three tiers of purchase points, I strongly recommend users decide quickly how much they will be using the app. For example, a parent that needs to make just a few assessments for one child will find a gem with this app at a reasonable cost, but a professional that has eight clients and several assessments for each will find the monthly subscription fits their needs, but in the end may not save too much time because they will be creating new assessments each time.
Cynthia thinks it's important for everyone to know that Norbert the cat was not harmed in the making of this review. *Smart Apps for Kids was paid a priority review fee for this post.