Interactive Speech Therapy sessions to work on sentence building

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Developing the use of language needs to be motivating and meaningful. In recent years it has been very popular to work on language development within school and therapy settings using symbol prompts, often with a Colourful Semantics (developed by Alison Bryan) theme such as in the picture below.

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Using symbols has lots of potential for helping reinforce many actions and sentence structures but it’s easy to get stuck for ways to practise using them.

Here are some apps I’ve used successfully to liven up a group or 1:1 session while using symbols (e.g. as above) as a visual support. All of them can be used in a functional and interactive small group session by giving each other instructions or describing what someone else has done.

 

Finger paint with sounds (free).  One of the many free painting apps which can be used to tell each what to draw or paint e.g. Clare paint a yellow house. This one has sounds as you draw.

 

Pepi Bath (free). A fun free app with some drag and drop actions such as Wash Hands, Brush Teeth, Pour Washing powder, Hang Jumper.

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My PlayHome Lite (free version great and full version for £3.99).  Has a range of animated activities that you can action by dragging objects and people around different rooms. A wealth of Subject Verb Object actions to use expressively such as the Girl is Eating an Apple and the Mummy is Pouring Water.

 

Toca Kitchen Monsters (free). Two different monsters and several different foods and ways of cooking e.g. Monster is Frying a Tomato, Green Monster is cutting broccoli.

 

Discover Musical Instruments Free Admittedly some more specific vocabulary (bagpipes, drum, guitar) needed here but this is a lovely free app and telling each other which instrument to play can be a fun group activity. If you’ve got more than one iPad you could effectively set up a small orchestra.

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Toca Tea party (£2.99).  In the absence of actual party food, pretend or real, this is a great app for a virtual tea party with either toys or people. Tell each other what you want them to do e.g. Teddy drink juice, Peter pour tea, Katy give a plate to me.

 

Build a Train Lite (free). 

Potential for using some very simples phrases such as Beep Horn, Ring Bell, Stop, Go.

 

Puppet Pals (there is a lite version but directors pass £3.99 is worth it) I’m honestly not sponsored by this app but it really is so versatile. I’ve set it up with pictures of symbols and you can then set up little moving scenes of pretty much any action you want. I usually create the symbol on symbol software on my office PC, take a photo using the iPad and insert it into the app – only takes a few minutes before a session.

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Other apps worth mentioning…

 

First Phrases HD (lite version £0.99) A well designed app which allows you to select a SVO sentence and then produces a animated video to illustrate it at the end. One of the best ways I’ve found to use this is to click through the vocabulary choice bits and just show the video and ask a child to describe it. But that’s fairly fiddly. It’s not ideal for an interactive session.

 

Photo dice (free).  An app which can be used in practically any therapy session but worth mentioning here if you want to provide some unpredictability of actions or objects e.g. what is Dennis going to wear? The hat/gloves/scarf/glasses etc. Or what is Aisha going to do to the box? Stand/Sit/Jump/Throw etc?

 

Sound effect apps: using the iPad to develop your child’s listening skills

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Use of an iPad/tablet doesn’t just need to involve watching the screen. You can also use it to develop listening skills which are a crucial element of language development. There are hundreds of sound based apps which could be adapted for a What’s That Sound? game with your child at home and some are adaptable for pretty much any age.

img_1232A few suggested free sound effect apps are listed below in categories.

Some ideas for how to play:

  1. Which picture? Play the sound first, then
    show your child the screen and see if they can pick the right picture. Next, swap round and it’s your turn to guess.
  2. Name that sound! Play the sound and see if your child can name it.
  3. Where is it? Play the sound of a household object (e.g. tap running) and ask your child to go and find the source of that sound in the house.
  4. What does it sound like? Play the sound (especially if your child doesn’t know what it is) and try and describe it using as many adjectives as you can.

 

Animal and transport:

I Hear Ewe is a great store of animal and transport sounds with pictures. Make sure you go to settings to turn off the verbal descriptions! https://appsto.re/gb/sSbis.i

SoundTouchLite is similar to I Hear Ewe and the lite version has animal and transport sounds but you can pay to unlock more. https://appsto.re/gb/hyBRv.iimg_1228

Animal Sounds Farm Jungle Forest Voices for Kids has a wider range of animal photos rather than cartoons as with the previous two. And a good one for guessing games as the selected picture does not become enlarged when you click on it. https://appsto.re/gb/ekG2db.i

In the Box is a listening game which can be played independently – the child must touch the box and listen to the sound, then guess which animal it corresponds to. A great idea but I got it wrong when asked to identify a giraffe… https://appsto.re/gb/MVOCI.i

 

Music sounds:img_1227

Discover Musical Instruments Free is a long time favourite of mine – photos of several different instruments which play a tune when selected. Note: you need to turn the iPad on its side to access the grid with many different instruments displayed. https://appsto.re/gb/Bckey.i

 Shake Musics is a great variation on this where you have to shake the iPad to create a sound. https://appsto.re/gb/VJO6G.i

 

General sound effects:

SoundEffects has a limited free range of human and outdoor sounds and allows you to record a few of your own. (as opposed to Sound Effects which had too many pop up adverts for my liking). https://appsto.re/gb/3Nqxx.i

100 Button Sounds Has a wide range of buttons including church bells, can opening and animal sounds but you do have to put up with quite a few adverts. https://appsto.re/gb/o3rg-.i

www.freesoundeffects.com is a website rather than an app but has hundreds of different sounds such as ‘creaky door’ and ‘footsteps walking on gravel’. Doesn’t have pictures but does have excellent descriptions of sounds e.g. ‘Garbage truck, hissing of hydraulics, clanging of metal’. It might give you some inspiration for talking about the sound that you hear!

 

Ten speech therapy activities which can be enhanced with an iPad

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  1. Warm up games. Try Air Hockey (free). No pressure to talk, easy to play, requires someone else to play with you and surprisingly addictive.

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  1. Visual Timetables. My favourite is First Then Visual Schedule HD (£7.99), which allows you to insert google images very easily. Makes a change from printing and laminating.

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  1. Informal assessment. Use a range of apps to stimulate informal talking and receptive language. Favourite apps to stimulate expressive language are Imagistory (free) or creating a spontaneous story using Puppet Pals and photos of the child. My favourite receptive assessments involve Keyword Understanding (£6.99 or free lite version) and Toca Kitchen Monsters (free).

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  1. Setting expectations of a session. Use Sand Timer (Free) or ASD tools timer (£1.49) to show how long an activity is going to last. Also use goal setting apps such as Simple Goals (free) for older children to record what they are working towards.

 

  1. Trialling AAC. Easy to take photos and give choices on the spot rather than having to ask about favourite items, take photos then go away and laminate… Use ChoiceBoard Creator (free) or TalkBoard (free) for basic grids to practice with.

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  1. Oro-motor assessments. Dress up an oro-motor assessment as a motivating activity using Bla Bla Bla (free) and Speak Up Too (free) for visual feedback.

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  1. Parent Child Interaction. Not sure how we ever managed video PCI without iPads – video it, play it back to the parent and if necessary, reassure them that you are deleting it in front of them. Also use for informal, spontaneous feedback e.g. during a swallow assessment.

 

  1. Talking about what has just happened. An immediate record of the session you’re in. Talk about doing something, do it and talk about what you did with visual prompts. Saves you going away to print photos.

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  1. Taking photos of plans, sessions, child’s work. An easy way of referring back to previous sessions – whether paintings that were made or stories which were created. If the app doesn’t store creations, take a screenshot by holding down the home button and then pressing the on/off button. The image will appear in Photos.

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  1. Inspiring parents to carry on activity at home. A lot of parents are worried that they don’t know what apps to download for their children and are keen for ideas. If they can see their child engaged with an activity with you, they’re more likely to try it at home.

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Not just a reward strategy: using iPads interactively to develop communication

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I gave a ‘Lightning Talk’ at Therapy Ideas Live in London last week and I’ve promised to put a list of the apps recommended on this blog. In my allocated 5 minutes, I discussed an app for a few different areas of language target that you could work on in therapy sessions – thinking mainly about social and functional uses of language e.g. telling stories and telling jokes.

You can see a video of the talk here.

Suggested apps were as follows:

scene and heardIntroducing Ourselves. Scene and Heard Lite (free)

 

choice boardMaking Choices. Choiceboard Creator (free)

 

Expressing Opinions. Talking Mats (lite version =talkingmat free)

 

ipad cameraSending Messages. Video function – no apps needed.

 

Giving Instructions. Cake Doodle (£0.79)cake doodle

 

Sharing Experiences. Photo Grid (free)photo grid

 

Telling Stories. Puppet Pals (free, £1.99 storytimesoundspuppetpalsfor adding your own photos), Story Time Sounds (free)

 

Telling Jokes. Knock Knock Numbers (£2.29)jokes1

 

tea partyHosting Others. Toca Tea Party (£2.49)

 

Asking Questions. Guess the Person (free)guesswho

 

Problem Solving. Faces iMake (£2.29)face2

 

air hockey2Initiating a Game. Air Hockey (free)

 

flip flapWord Play. Flip Flap Farm (£0.79)

 

 

Functional language activities using food and cooking apps

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We use language in a variety of ways in our everyday lives – to start conversations, to give opinions, to tell jokes, to persuade people to our point of view, to make other people feel better and to criticise something we do not like. Working with all children, especially those who have Autism, it’s important to think about how we are giving them the opportunity to generalise language skills in lots of different practical situations.

There are lots of food and cookery based apps available. Here are some ideas for how to use them to support meaningful language skills.

toca monsters Giving instructions to others with Toca Kitchen Monsters (free). A lovely app for giving simple instructions to direct others. Take turns to choose an action e.g. “boil the broccoli”, “fry the steak”, “blend the lemon.” At a basic level, you can encourage the child to give one word instructions e.g. the type of food (e.g. tomato/mushroom/sausage) or the cooking process (e.g. blend/boil/fry/chop). This could work as a paired or group activity.monster

 

cake doodle

Teaching someone what to do with Cake Doodle (£0.79). Similar to above but emphasising the skill of giving coherent instructions step by step. The ability to describe steps in a logical way form a key foundation skill for developing narrative. The child can ask what type of cake you would like to make and then tell you all the steps for what to do e.g. “first you squash the banana, then break the egg, then pour the sauce.” Alternatively, make the cake first and ask the child to tell you what they did.

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tea partyAsking people about their preferences with Toca tea party (£2.49). 

Finding out what someone would like to eat or drink is a basic social skill. In Toca Tea party, you can set the place for three people and encourage the child to ask others what they would like to eat and drink. Chosen drinks and food can be dragged into the correct place.

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Using your iPad for story telling with your child using free apps

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imagistoryNarrative skills are an essential part of children’s language development. Young children learn to structure stories and put events in sequence by talking about things they have done and seen. These skills support their ability to create their own imaginative stories as their talking develops.

Below are some ideas for (mostly) free apps which you can use to support your child’s narrative and story telling skills from a very early language stage onwards. Some of them allow you to record a story bit by bit and play it back at the end and others provide visual prompts to help you let your imagination run wild!

 

Story Creator  story creator

How to use: This app can help develop a child’s story telling skills by supporting them to retell stories of things that have happened. Whenever you are having an exciting day out or doing something interesting at home, think about taking photos/videos on the iPad and creating a story about it afterwards. Make up a story when you get back and tell another family member astorycreatorbout what you saw or play them your recording.

  • Click on the + and Add New Story.
  • Give the story a name and add a photo for the front cover.
  • Click on Add new page symbol to add new pictures to the story.
  • Click on the microphone picture to add a recording.

 

Imagistoryimagistory

How to use: This is a wordless picture book to encourage you and your child to make up a story yourselves.

  • Click on Create and choose one of the two free stories available.
  • You can either fill in your name and take a photo first, or just go to Quiet Read to start the story.
  • Talk about what is happening and swipe left to move between pages.
  • Read the story again and again and use new words each time!

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storytime sounds

Story Time Sounds

How to use: This is a great resource of sound effects which you can incorporate into youstorytimesoundsr stories. A motivating resource for story telling and a few prompts to help develop the plot…

  • Choose a category e.g. Space, Lost World etc.
  • Choose a sound to mark the beginning of your story.
  • Take turns to choose a sound and say what is happening next using that sound!

 

puppet palsPuppet pals

Cost: free for basic version/ £1.99 to add your own photos

How to use: You can use this app to make up a story about you, your child and fictional characters at the same time. You can record the story while moving the characters around on the screen.

  • Either choose ‘actors’ from the menu or click on ‘Add actor from photo.’
  • Choose a background scene (you can also Add backdrop from photo).
  • Use the scale in the bottom left hand corner to make the picture fill the screen and move the characters about.
  • Click the red button to record a story and save to the iPad using the disk symbol.

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Suggestions for activities:

  • Take photos of you, your child and your home. Create a movie about something you have been doing that week.
  • Make a short movie to show your child and then let them do the talking.
  • Make up a story using photos of your child’s favourite toys.
  • Dress up and take photos of yourselves, then make them into a movie that you can show other people.

 

story wheelStory Wheel Lite

How to use: This ‘Spin the Wheel’ app allows you to record a story and helps you decide on a character to talk about next. You can use this app as a tool for creating stories with more than one person.

  • storywheel Click on Create a Story. You will need to fill in your names before you continue.
  • Select a theme from Pirates, Story Teller, Knights and Princesses etc.
  • The first person spins the wheel to show a character.
  • Record a short sentence or two about this character as the first part of the story.
  • Press Next Player and spin again.
  • When you have completed creating a story, press Done
  • Say Yes to saving and then Listen to Story.

Free apps for working with children who have speech difficulties and dysarthria

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I’ve recently been experimenting with some new apps in Speech and Language Therapy sessions for both primary and secondary aged children who have either speech difficulties or dysarthria. I found the following (and all free!) apps to be helpful in my therapy sessions:

Singing Fingers HDThis app allows you to draw a squiggle, line or picture while recording your voice at the same time. You can then run your finger along the line to play back the recording. This app proved useful in assessment as a motivating way of asking a student to demonstrate pitch glides.

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Voice Changer Lite. This app was useful for eliciting short sample phrases from students – you can record a short phrase and then play them back in different modes e.g. “helium” or “alien”.

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Bla Bla Bla and Sensory Speak Up. Great apps for encouraging voice exercises. Bla Bla Bla has a choice of faces, which change according to the volume of the speaker. I also used it as a tool during oro-motor assessments with younger children.

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A quiet voice

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A very loud voice

 

 

 

 

 

The Sensory Speak Up app gives visual feedback when trying to sustaining a long vowel sound.  This made it possible to set visual targets for students e.g. sustaining a note for half the screen.

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The bars appear evenly with a good sustained sound

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A non sustained note with breaks in breathing

 

 

 

 

 

Ocarina. I used this app to support therapy for breath control. The difference between a long sustained note and a quick breath creates a difference in the music created so provides a relatively motivating target.

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