Bottom Line: A comprehensive solution to assist students with apraxia, individually or in a group setting, practice sound production at the syllable, word or phrase level. Has video modeling and excellent data collection.
Apraxia, a motor planning disorder that makes it difficult for individuals to move their tongue and lips in proper sequence to make speech sounds, is something that I see frequently in children as a Speech Pathologist. While there's quite a bit of paper material out there to help treat it, there hasn't been a lot that I've been ga-ga over when it comes to apps. Most of what I've seen so far is an app made for other purposes that I've twisted and turned on its side to work for my students with Apraxia.
Well, all of that struggling to make an app do what I want changed when Apraxia Ville from Smarty Ears came to town. This app is dedicated to treating Apraxia and some of the common difficulties it brings along, in true Smarty Ears quality. (Click here to read Jill's poetically accurate thoughts on more apps from Smarty Ears). Apraxia Ville is a small, quiet farm where lots of sound producing takes place! The main menu offers your speech challenged child 4 options:
- Quick Play-jump right into sound making business
- Select a Player-create a player and save/continue progress
- Reports and homework-Lets you view, track, and analyze data recorded from individual students (you know, the ones you created under "Select a Player"). Also, Homework PDFs are customizable and created under this tab that can be printed. Wirelessly. Mhmm right from your iDevice. Because technology is awesome.
- Support-View the video tutorial on the app for the full breakdown of all you can do, backup your data to iTunes, and more.
The Farm House is where word-level productions happen. Select all the phonemes you are targeting, along with the vowels of your choosing and your word construction (consonant-vowel/vowel-consonant, or consonant-vowel-consonant) and the app generates your word list for your user. Picture, word, and auditory cues are right at your fingertips to provide your clients whichever they need most. The recording feature lets your students hear their own production and judge its accuracy. Window cues are on the side to provide models for each of the sounds in the word in isolation.
Data tracking is easy to use-simply select up to 4 players, and tap green for a top-notch production, yellow for an approximation (or, "I've heard you do better" as I'm prone to saying in therapy), and red for an incorrect production. Again, this data is all saved and stored for you to look at later (otherwise known as "when you have time", otherwise known as "I have ten seconds…go!") Apraxia Ville works with Smarty Ears' Therapy Report Center and data can be backed up and restored through iTunes.
The Word Farm is the last, but certainly not least, activity in this app. You (the SLP/parent) selects the number of words you want displayed on the screen-2 or 3. This activity can only be done by 1 student at a time, but gives you the nitty gritty details of where current performance is at. I worked with the 3 setting in this activity, simply due to the specific client's level I was testing this out with. We were able to target 3 sounds at once, and they all lined up nicely on the screen. Each sound set is in a scroll box, and students can strut their stuff and produce as many words as they can. I did this activity often as a timed accuracy activity to act as a "pass" before we moved on to harder sounds. It was a huge hit! Kiddo's favorite, of the entire app, was definitely this section.
Whew! Smarty Ears is at it again with a quality app that breaks down and focuses on struggles common to those with Apraxia. It is inclusive and has a lot, LOT of great features. Working in the school setting I see children with apraxia during my week, but not often enough to pay the exorbitant $299.99 price tag for a professional version of an apraxia specific app. At $21.99 Apraxia Ville is still costly but well worth the investment and meets my needs as a school based SLP to be.
The app is iPad only, which works well in my case (since that's what I use in therapy), but I know some colleagues who are limited to iPod Touches for a variety of reasons, and they feel a little left out. Also, I would love to see this app go to the Android market! A phenomenal tool, that is both rare in its kind and quality, should be accessible to all smart device users!
All in all, trips to Apraxia Ville were never scoffed at or met with "I don't wanna's" in my treatment sessions. Clarity and quality of targets, wonderful data tracking and a homework generator, met with top-notch graphics make this app best in show.
Rachel is 4 months away from being "Rachel Jones, CF-SLP" and frankly can't wait.