Saturday, September 7, 2013
Bottom line: This is a must-have app for speech-language pathologists at all levels from about age 9 through adult. Work on conversation and answering comprehension questions, with great data-keeping and customization. Free lite version available.
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Tactus Therapy is a trusted name for development of speech-language pathology apps. Most of the apps are developed for adults, though they are adaptable for younger children. Conversation TherAppy, however, is designed to use with kids as young as age 9, all the way through adults.
The goal of this great app is to target higher-level expressive language and pragmatic language, including problem solving and critical thinking. With this new app, they have also added the ability to collect data for a group, an amazing feature for my therapy sessions. Speech-language pathologists are well-acquainted with the need to keep good data in sessions. Each session needs to include measurable data, in order to track progress for quarterly reports and/or billing purposes.
Up to six students can be easily tracked in one session. At the end of the session, all data can be emailed (even without an internet connection — the message is saved in the draft email folder until a connection is established). Or, it can simply be accessed at a later date in the User Hub.
Though the data collection and management make writing progress reports a lot easier, it isn't what made me fall in love with this app. A major focus of my therapy within my grade school (K-4th grade) is answering more complex problem-solving questions, both in reading comprehension and in the classroom discussion setting. Many of my students can answer basic questions about a picture or text ("Where are they going?", "Who is playing baseball?") but struggle to answer questions that require an inference or any problem solving ("Why are they going back inside?" "When do you think they'll come back outside to play?")
Conversation TherAppy makes my therapy more effective by providing an app to work on just that kind
of question. There are ten different question types covered in this app, including Describing, Defining, Remembering, Inferring, Predicting, and Evaluating. These questions help to prepare students to answer critical thinking questions in the classroom and to demonstrate reading comprehension.
It's also useful to target higher-level verbal expression, addressing conversation skills and the ability to express ideas within a verbal exchange. This can be a tricky area for older children and teens with autism and language impairments, and up until this app, it has been hard to address using the iPad.
The ability to customize so much of the app also makes it appealing. The SLP is able to customize the content in each of the 12 categories by changing the text of each question that appears on the screen with the images, selecting the age level for which the question is appropriate (Child, Teen or Adult), or by simply unselecting the picture so that it doesn't appear at all.
I have used Conversation TherAppy easily with students starting in 2nd grade (around 8-9 years old). The students found the pictures interesting, and engaged in discussions with each other far beyond anything I had elicited in past sessions. Proving that kids don't always need fancy games or rewards, my students even found the data collection interesting, paying close attention to be sure I had the right student tab selected before scoring.
The number of goals that can be targeted with Conversation TherAppy, and the wide age range, make
this app well worth $24.99. Not to mention the more than 300 pictures in 12 categories. Even better, there is a free lite version available, to allow the user to try out full functionality with a limited picture set.
After using this app, I can't imagine doing therapy without it. Conversation TherAppy is a must-have therapy app for SLPs working with students from about age 9 and up.
Heather H. participated in independent beta testing for this app, and received a free copy as compensation. No other compensation was provided.