Move over Old McDonald and make some room for Apraxia Ville! Smarty Ears recently released their latest app with a cute farm theme to help facilitate speech sound development for children with Apraxia of speech and those with severe speech sound disorders. Given the theme, this app seems appropriate for preschool through first grade.
There are three levels of play:
The Sound Windows; The Farm House; and The Words Farm.
The first level displays two windows with a boy and girl image in each one. You can select a consonant sound in the first and a vowel in the second window. When you tap the little apple, the picture is set in motion as it verbally produces the selected sound! I don’t think I have seen anything like this in an app before! You can even slow down the movement to emphasize the process. This is such an important drill for children with Apraxia. Newer iPads will even allow you to activate the camera image to give children an opportunity to immediately practice the target while looking at their own mouths! Can you sense how giddy I am about this level of play?
The Farm House focuses on practicing speech at the word level. This level is further divided into two more levels of play: CV (Consonant-Vowel)/ VC (Vowel-Consonant) and CVC (Consonant-Vowel-Consonant). Now, sounds are grouped according to placement. For example, all the sounds that you make with your lips (p, b, m) are grouped together for selection. You must also select vowel sounds, which are individually listed. I like that you can select more than one consonant groups or vowels. During play, the images are said aloud at the barn door. You can opt to record your client’s production and tracking accuracy with the push of a button. On the side of the barn house, our friends from level one are displayed as window cues should you need to remind clients of sound movements.
The Words Farm is the highest level of difficulty that works on producing 2-3 words at a time. If you hit the play button, each picture will be named. You can also vary the pictures by spinning the dials, changing sound targets, and changing syllable structures (CV, VC, CVC). Since children with Apraxia tend to vary productions for the same word, it is a good idea to practice the same target 2-3 times before moving onto productions for a few different words. Again, you can record clients and tally accuracy. I really liked how each level moves one step at a time because this mimics how we as Speech Pathologists structure therapy.
One of the greatest things since sliced bread is the homework feature on this app! Now, you can send home papers that are ready to print at the tap of a finger so clients can practice that much-needed carry over at home. This is a great way to educate families about what is being practiced in the speech room.
Here’s what the developers have to say about this app:
Apraxia Ville is designed for single or multi-player use. Players may be imported into Apraxia Ville from the Therapy Report Center or entered individually on the home screen. Up to four players can be selected with individual selections for targets in both sound groups and syllable structure. If the student has used Apraxia Ville before, the adult also has the option of repeating the targets from the previous session. Multiple students can work on different targets in the same session. The level of play depends on which area the adult chooses to visit. Apraxia Ville has three areas from which to select: The Sound Windows (sound production), The Farm House (single word production), and The Words Farm (multiple word production). Visual stimuli are present in each area from animated phoneme production in Sound Windows to multiple word pictures in The Words Farm. If the quickplay option is selected, the app moves directly into target selection. After the session is completed, the adult has the option of emailing/printing results or uploading directly to The Therapy Report Center. However, it should be noted that with the quick play option, no user data will be retained in the app itself.
Apraxia Ville has a “settings” button on the home screen. The settings button allows the user to modify the word pool and allows the adult to select the specific words used for the session. A simple touch selects or deselects the word choice.
Add custom words: To help with functional communication, Apraxia Ville allows custom images to be added to the program. Adding a custom image allows for importing pictures relevant to the student (e.g., pictures of family members, teachers, pets, etc.). The adult then records the target word, selects the syllable structure, and the targeted phoneme. This custom word will then show up in the word list.
Nanette Cote, MA, CCC-SLP has her own speech-language practice, Therapediatrics. She is a pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist in Naperville, Illinois who was has been practicing Speech Pathology for close to two decades. Her blog, speech2me, was named one of the top Speech-Language blogs for 2012. For more information about this practitioner, please visit speech2me Blog