I have something to say…… about PODD

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Have you ever had a patient who you knew had something to say but you struggled to find a means of communication?

I spent almost a year trying literally EVERY possible AAC device and app and every type of access option in a quest to find a “voice” for a child who I knew had so much to say. She made it very clear that she wanted to use her hands for direct access despite having minimal use of them. She hated head pointing and eye gaze devices and any type of scanning. I would seriously lay in bed at night and ponder what else we could try. I spent hours scouring the internet looking for PODD resources and watched just about every video I could find. Thank goodness a PODD training finally came close enough and was priced affordably enough that our facility sent two SLPs to get trained. Ideally I would have gone to that PODD training but it didn’t make sense for me to take a spot being so close to retirement. But having two of our SLPs trained gave me access to a PODD book to trial with her and then was able to order a premade one for her. Ideally you would custom make and print a book but the facility where I work had not figured out the logistics of printing on special water and rip resistant paper and spiral binding. So I have customized the premade PODD book for her by using clear packing tape to add symbols. Her older sister has even hand drawn a few symbols and the family has written lists on the back of pages. It may not be perfect but it’s working for her. She is my PODD rock star. Every week I end my session by telling her to “PODD on” (rock on with PODD).

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I’m sharing links to things that were helpful during this PODD adventure and a few lessons learned….
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What does PODD stand for? Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display
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How to get started? Ideally go to a PODD training….. but the reality is they may not be offered anywhere near you and they tend to be very expensive. This was my reality so I learned as much as I could online through blog posts, workshop handouts, videos, Facebook groups, etc….

One of the biggest mind shifts for me was to let go of the need to plan contrived communication opportunities in therapy sessions and instead model initiating saying “I have something to say” through facial expression, raising my hand and vocalizing and then using PODD to share my own thoughts or ideas. I had to get comfortable with doing lots of modeling without any pressure on the child to do anything. And comfortable with writing measurable goals in a whole different way.

Examples of some of the goals that I have written for her during this process:

“__________ will show increasing interest and attention to someone using pages from the PODD aided communication system to talk to her in natural contexts throughout the day. This will be measured by an increase in: looking towards the communication symbols or the communication partner, calming during this process, looking away to the side but with a stillness as if listening, or responding the partner’s message. Will increase from ______ to at least _______ times documented during the auth period.”

“Within natural contexts throughout the day, _________ will initiate use of PODD AAC by raising her hand and/or vocalizing to indicate “I have something to say”. Will increase from _______ to at least ________ times documented during the auth period.”

“After signaling “I have something to say”, __________will express an increasing range of communicative functions such as requests, comments, and directing actions using direct selection and/or partner assisted scanning with pages from the PODD communication book and yes/no responses. Will increase from_______ to at least ________ times documented during the auth period.”
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Reading these 1 page PODD tip sheets helped break the concept into manageable chunks: http://interactivespeech.com.au/podd-communication-focus-handouts.php

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This weekend I found these handouts and videos on Linda Burkhart’s website about PODD:

“Aided Language Stimulation and a Robust Language System: Autism a Case Example” – Presented by Linda J. Burkhart and Aura Baker at Closing the Gap Conference, October, 2016

http://lindaburkhart.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Jax_story_CTGap_presentation_10_16_post.pdf

http://lindaburkhart.com/index.php/handout_jax_autism

“Aided Language Stimulation: Giving Kids the Gift of Language”
– presented by Linda Burkhart and Karen Owens (We Speak PODD) at AITA January 2017

http://lindaburkhart.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Gift-of-Language_ATIA_Jan_17.pdf

Older handouts with great info:

http://lindaburkhart.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Light_Com_part_1_-5_12_handout.pdf
http://lindaburkhart.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Light_Com_part_2_PODD_50_min_5_12_handout_rev.pdf
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More handouts: http://assistechknow.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/PODD-Communication-Taylor.pdf

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Options for purchasing premade PODD books (you have to sign a confirmation that you own both the Boardmaker and PODD software). A big shout out to Rachael Langley & Kelly Fonner for helping me find the first two options! The third one was seen in a Facebook group:

* http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1970606/PODD-Book-Order-Form-3 (several sizes and styles to choose from. This is where we ordered this patient’s book from. The spiral binding is not very large so we had to use a wooden dowel rod to hang it on the PVC stand.)

* http://www.esc4.net/Assets/podd-books-order-formv2.pdf

* https://terraslatepaper.com/products/podd-communication-book (you have to send them PDF to print)

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How to convert PODD to PDF in Boardmaker 6

So I’ve been frustrated that I’m always fumbling through this patient’s PODD book in sessions. I wish there was a “word finder” for PODD (one of the downsides of a no tech system). I’m pretty “at home” with most AAC devices and apps since I have had lots of time to look through them and use them.  I wanted to have this same level of ease in using PODD so I decided that I needed a copy of the same style of PODD book that she is using.

Unfortunately I can’t use the Tobii Dynavox PODD pageset in the Compass app to model since it doesn’t look anything like my patient’s PODD book. Since I am only 14 weeks away from retirement it did not make sense to spend about $80 to order a premade PODD book for me.  I had seen comments online of folks saving a PODD book as a PDF so that’s what I decided to do. I saved the PDF in iBooks on my iPad. Now I have a way to look through it to get a feel for what vocabulary is in it and the pragmatic branching.

Be forewarned ….. it’s a VERY tedious & time consuming process to save a PODD book into one PDF if you are using Boardmaker 6 on a CD. It took me about 3 hours for a 123 pages of PODD. It’s not hard but time consuming.

  • Open the first page of your PODD book in Boardmaker.
  • Go to File – Print Set Up – Print Set Up – selected “Microsoft Print to PDF” – OK – Remember Board Settings for New Boards – OK
  • Go to File – Print (make sure it says “Microsoft Print to PDF” as the printer) – OK

You have to repeat the process for every single page that you want to include in the PDF of your PODD book. (I don’t have access to Boardmaker Online so I don’t know what the steps are there).

After you have all your pages saved as PDFs, then go to the Small PDF website (https://smallpdf.com/merge-pdf). This website lets you upload an unlimited number of PDFs. I uploaded all 123 of the PDF documents that I wanted included in this PODD book. After they are all uploaded then you hit “merge”. I was surprised how quickly this website handled merging 123 separate PDFs into one 123 page PDF document. I then uploaded the merged PDF from my computer into the media storage on my blog (a secured area that only I have access to). From there I was able to e-mail the link to the iPad that I use for AAC and opened the PDF in iBooks to save it on the device.

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Find a PODD Training:

https://sites.google.com/site/testbkeller20/
http://lindaburkhart.com/
More info: http://lindaburkhart.com/index.php/podd-information/
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We Speak PODD:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfvD20l2wn-fS2Ar4bdTXZg
https://www.facebook.com/wespeakpodd/
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Info about the types of PODD books:
https://www.novita.org.au/equipment/podd-communication-books/

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Comparisons of PODD one page opening types of books: PODD-Comparison-for-one-page-opening-communication-books

Language: Pragmatic Functions and semantic meaning comparisons of PODD one page opening types of books: PODD-Language-Comparison-for-one-page-opening-communication-books

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More PODD tips:
http://praacticalaac.org/?s=PODD
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Mary-Louise Bertram demonstrates how to make a portable stand for a PODD book, that could also work well for other kinds of communication books.

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How We Speak PODD makes their carrying rods:

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Here are some examples of PODD book stands made out of PVC. The amazing PT tech at our facility made some of the first style ones for us:  PODD PVC stand examples
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PODD Facebook groups:
* PODD and Alternative Access: https://www.facebook.com/groups/245472458977470
* PODD Trained Discussion Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/146028998941754
* PODD Europe: https://www.facebook.com/groups/304605199684150
* PODD for Angelman Sydrome and other CCN (ALL are welcome): https://www.facebook.com/groups/1536788556611317

More Facebook groups that are not specific to PODD but folks frequently post about it there:

* AAC for the SLP: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1539830846285663/

* AAC Through Motivate, Model, Move Out Of The Way: https://www.facebook.com/groups/421704261346486/

* Angelman, Literacy, and Education (including Alphabet Therapy): https://www.facebook.com/groups/265187670266772/

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Gayle Porter has reportedly been working on an “alternative access” version of PODD for quite awhile but as of the time of this post it is still not available here in the USA. So I made these very simple eye gaze boards inspired by PODD to use with a couple of other older patients.

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I may add more PODD resources to this post in the future. Just so it’s clear…. I’m definitely not an expert on PODD. I’m just a speechie who was willing to jump out of my comfort zone to find a means of communication for this patient and thought it would be helpful to share resources that took countless hours to find.  If you have questions about this form of AAC I suggest going to one of the Facebook groups listed above. It’s where all the PODD gurus are 😉

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Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist
Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC – inclusive wellness & educational activities for kids of all abilities
Facebook Messaging for OMazing Kids: http://m.me/OMazingKidsYoga (note: Facebook frequently changes the link to messaging so if this one doesn’t work head over to my page and click on the “Send Message” button)
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsYoga
AppPeeps Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OMazingKidsAppPeeps/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/amoorad
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/omazingkids
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/amoorad1
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/OMazingKids/
YappGuru: http://yappguru.com/user/omazing-kids/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/110305433538768736741
Boardmaker Share: http://www.boardmakershare.com/Community/FriendsProfile/10916/Angela-Moorad
Blog: http://omazingkidsllc.com
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Angela Moorad is the founder of OMazing Kids, LLC and is an ASHA certified & licensed pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Kids Yoga Teacher with 28 years experience working in a variety of settings (early intervention, schools, teletherapy & a nonprofit pediatric rehab hospital for children with developmental disabilities). She is an app beta tester for educational & therapeutic app developers and loves sharing info about great apps, products, books & toys to use with kids of all abilities.

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New Articulation App: Apraximations – Mouth Cues by Alissa Holloway

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New Articulation App: Apraximations – Mouth Cues by Alissa Holloway

I was thrilled to see that the full version of this app was finally released! I especially like the matching game and the free build option. It’s great to have another tool in my speechie toolkit to help kids who are at the very early stage of learning about production of speech sounds. I used the “free build” screen to show a patient side by side differences between his target sound vs. error sound. I saw him have an “ah ha” moment and get a couple of correct productions in imitation. Having the voice output paired with each visual was what helped. He kept tapping, looking and listening and then on his own imitated the target sound. He sustained attention much longer than I’ve ever gotten him to look at my mouth.

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Wishes for a future app update: It would be cool to have short video clips of each sound in addition to the pictures and then be able to select which you want to use on each activity screen.

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App Store: iPad only, iOS 10.2 or later, $14.99, https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/apraximations-mouth-cues/id1310186235?mt=8
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Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist
Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC – inclusive wellness & educational activities for kids of all abilities
Facebook Messaging for OMazing Kids: http://m.me/OMazingKidsYoga (note: Facebook frequently changes the link to messaging so if this one doesn’t work head over to my page and click on the “Send Message” button)
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsYoga
AppPeeps Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OMazingKidsAppPeeps/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/amoorad
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/omazingkids
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/amoorad1
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/OMazingKids/
YappGuru: http://yappguru.com/user/omazing-kids/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/110305433538768736741
Boardmaker Share: http://www.boardmakershare.com/Community/FriendsProfile/10916/Angela-Moorad
Blog: http://omazingkidsllc.com
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Angela Moorad is the founder of OMazing Kids, LLC and is an ASHA certified & licensed pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Kids Yoga Teacher with 28 years experience working in a variety of settings (early intervention, schools, teletherapy & a nonprofit pediatric rehab hospital for children with developmental disabilities). She is an app beta tester for educational & therapeutic app developers and loves sharing info about great apps, products, books & toys to use with kids of all abilities.

{New “Must Have” Resource} Mindful Kids: 50 Mindfulness Activities for Kindness, Focus and Calm by Whitney Stewart and Mina Braun

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Mindful Kids: 50 Mindfulness Activities for Kindness, Focus and Calm by Whitney Stewart and Mina Braun

Be still my heart! This is the best new kids mindfulness product that I’ve seen in a long time. The boxed card deck includes 50 creative mindfulness games, visualizations and exercises divided into 5 categories to help children feel grounded, find calm, improve focus, practice loving-kindness and relax. Whimsical full-color illustrations on both sides of the cards break down each practice into easy-to-follow steps. Tips on individual cards plus an 8-page instructional booklet show modifications that make these activities inclusive for children of all abilities.

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What I love about these cards:

* Large 5″ X 7″ sturdy cards with a protective coating. The size will be helpful in groups as well as 1-on-1 sessions and the two sided card format is easy to “grab and go”.
* Whimsical colorful illustrations depicting kids of diverse ethnic backgrounds and abilities participating in the activities. The color and style of illustrations are not childish. This makes this card set useable for a wide range of ages (says “ages 4-104” on the front of the storage box)
* The front of each card has a large illustration, activity category with color coded edge, activity title and brief description.
* The back of each card has illustrated step-by-step simple instructions. I love how simple the wording is. Some cards have additional tips or challenges.
* Many of the cards deal with a wide range of emotions…. this set is a perfect addition to any SEL (social emotional learning) program!
* A few cards address “dealing with change”…. this is often difficult for my patients with Autism, OCD and other special needs so I’m especially excited about these cards.
* There are no religious images, words or symbols. This will make this card set usable in a wide range of environments.
* The instructional booklet has simple kid-friendly explanations about mindfulness and the five categories of activities. Also includes tips for modifying activities.
* The cards come in a sturdy storage box with hinged lid covered in whimsical colorful illustrations.

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List of cards included in each category:

Start Your Day: Stay Grounded. Feel strong, focused and confident as you begin each day.
* Mindful Breaths
* Mindful Mood
* Mountain Rising
* Rooted Like a Tree
* Inhaling the Universe
* Cloud Burst
* Mindful Jungle Movement
* Reflection Pond
* Words to Yourself
* Rings of Light

Find Calm: Ride Your Waves. Learn to handle tricky or challenging emotions.
* Shake the Sillies Out
* Balanced Breathing
* Tummy Ride
* Mind Bubbles
* The Power of Blue
* Joyful Jellyfish
* Happy Hum
* Fist Squeeze
* Finding the Pause
* Peaceful Place

Focus: Strengthen Your Mind. Wake up your brain, build concentration and sharpen your sensory awareness.
* Tap and Wiggle
* Finger Fiddle
* Mind Castle
* Wise Old Owl
* Mental Snapshot
* Mind Magic
* Open Ears
* The Nose Knows
* Sharp Eyes
* Mindful Munch

Open Your Heart: Accept Life with Kindness. Feel a sense of self-acceptance and connection to the world.
* Sharing Friendship
* Everything Changes
* Sitting With It
* Name That Feeling
* Finding Feelings
* The Inner Me
* Cooking Up Connections
* Breath by Breath
* Loving-Kindness
* Heart Garden

Rest & Relax: Unwind Your Tangles. Reflect, relax and ease your busy mind.
* Animal Dance
* Swaying Trees
* Figure Eights
* Rain Shower
* Safekeeping
* Rock, Roll and Rest
* Squeeze and Release
* Floating Smiles
* I Am Thankful
* Folding Flower

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More details: https://www.barefootbooks.com/index.php?cID=81724
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See samples of the cards: http://store.barefootbooks.com/mindful-kids.html
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Get a better price on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Mindful-Kids-Activities-Focus-Peace/dp/1782853278
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About the author: http://whitneystewart.com
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This card set is highly recommended as a “must have” resource for therapists, teachers, parents & kids yoga teachers! 

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Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist
Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC – inclusive wellness & educational activities for kids of all abilities
Facebook Messaging for OMazing Kids: http://m.me/OMazingKidsYoga (note: Facebook frequently changes the link to messaging so if this one doesn’t work head over to my page and click on the “Send Message” button)
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsYoga
AppPeeps Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OMazingKidsAppPeeps/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/amoorad
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/omazingkids
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/amoorad1
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/OMazingKids/
YappGuru: http://yappguru.com/user/omazing-kids/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/110305433538768736741
Boardmaker Share: http://www.boardmakershare.com/Community/FriendsProfile/10916/Angela-Moorad
Blog: http://omazingkidsllc.com
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Angela Moorad is the founder of OMazing Kids, LLC and is an ASHA certified & licensed pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Kids Yoga Teacher with 28 years experience working in a variety of settings (early intervention, schools, teletherapy & a nonprofit pediatric rehab hospital for children with developmental disabilities). She is an app beta tester for educational & therapeutic app developers and loves sharing info about great apps, products, books & toys to use with kids of all abilities.

{Book Review} “The Gingerbread Man and the Leprechaun Loose at School” by Laura Murray

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{Book Review} “The Gingerbread Man and the Leprechaun Loose at School” by Laura Murray

Uh-Oh! This leprechaun is trouble!

After a mischievous leprechaun makes a mess in the school band room, the Gingerbread Man vows to catch him. He follows the leprechaun’s clues all around the building finding chaos everywhere–even in the library! But then he finds a clue that almost scares the buttons off of him. It says the leprechaun’s next target might be a house made of gingerbread! 

Luckily, the Gingerbread Man makes it to his classroom in time to set a trap for the leprechaun. He’ll show that mischief maker that he messed with the wrong cookie this time. 

”I’m on a mission! I’ve got a good plan.
I can catch him! I’m the Gingerbread Man!”
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What I love about this book:
* wonderful rhyming text that is fun to read
* funny illustrations (many have speech bubbles)
* lots of great verbs & adjectives
* clues for where the leprechaun is going next

I can’t wait to use this book in March as part of a St. Patrick’s Day theme ☘🍀.

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Free printables: https://www.lauramurraybooks.com/leprechaun-loose-at-school & https://www.lauramurraybooks.com/educators
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Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist
Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC – inclusive wellness & educational activities for kids of all abilities
Facebook Messaging for OMazing Kids: http://m.me/OMazingKidsYoga (note: Facebook frequently changes the link to messaging so if this one doesn’t work head over to my page and click on the “Send Message” button)
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsYoga
AppPeeps Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OMazingKidsAppPeeps/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/amoorad
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/omazingkids
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/amoorad1
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/OMazingKids/
YappGuru: http://yappguru.com/user/omazing-kids/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/110305433538768736741
Boardmaker Share: http://www.boardmakershare.com/Community/FriendsProfile/10916/Angela-Moorad
Blog: http://omazingkidsllc.com
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Angela Moorad is the founder of OMazing Kids, LLC and is an ASHA certified & licensed pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Kids Yoga Teacher with 28 years experience working in a variety of settings (early intervention, schools, teletherapy & a nonprofit pediatric rehab hospital for children with developmental disabilities). She is an app beta tester for educational & therapeutic app developers and loves sharing info about great apps, products, books & toys to use with kids of all abilities.

{Book Review} My Pillow Keeps Moving by Laura Gehl

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{Book Review} My Pillow Keeps Moving by Laura Gehl

A clever pup ends up in a cozy home, and she’ll do anything to stay there. She impersonates everything the lonely homeowner needs–a pillow, a footstool, a jacket. But in the end, being herself works best. Laura Gehl’s spare, humorous text and New Yorker cartoonist Christopher Weyant’s expressive characters will leave young readers giggling and begging for more.

What I love about this book: Over half of the pages in this fun book are wordless…. great for sparking conversations about the comical illustrations. The pages that contain text have lots of adjectives. This book is a fun new addition to my speechie library 📚.

https://www.amazon.com/Pillow-Keeps-Moving-Laura-Gehl/dp/0425288242
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Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist
Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC – inclusive wellness & educational activities for kids of all abilities
Facebook Messaging for OMazing Kids: http://m.me/OMazingKidsYoga (note: Facebook frequently changes the link to messaging so if this one doesn’t work head over to my page and click on the “Send Message” button)
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsYoga
AppPeeps Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OMazingKidsAppPeeps/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/amoorad
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/omazingkids
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/amoorad1
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/OMazingKids/
YappGuru: http://yappguru.com/user/omazing-kids/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/110305433538768736741
Boardmaker Share: http://www.boardmakershare.com/Community/FriendsProfile/10916/Angela-Moorad
Blog: http://omazingkidsllc.com
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Angela Moorad is the founder of OMazing Kids, LLC and is an ASHA certified & licensed pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Kids Yoga Teacher with 28 years experience working in a variety of settings (early intervention, schools, teletherapy & a nonprofit pediatric rehab hospital for children with developmental disabilities). She is an app beta tester for educational & therapeutic app developers and loves sharing info about great apps, products, books & toys to use with kids of all abilities.

Top 7 SLP Therapy App Updates in 2017

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Many app developers spent 2017 focused on updating their apps to be compatible with iOS 11. Some updated their entire line of apps, some only updated a few apps and a few totally abandoned their apps. It’s always sad to see good apps disappear from the App Store. It’s why I have not updated most of my iPads to iOS 11. But there are a few bright spots to share where app developers actually added some exciting new features to apps in 2017. Here are seven of my favorite updates (listed in alphabetical order):
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Articulate It! Pro by Smarty Ears: added several fun new themes & improved existing themes, added the option for manual turn taking, added the option to switch the activity without having to start over, etc.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/articulate-it-pro/id391296844?mt=8
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Articulation Scenes by Smarty Ears: added /sk/ scene & on “Find the Hidden Items” activities the pics disappear when tapped.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/articulation-scenes/id498857302?mt=8
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Articulation Test Center Pro by Little Bee Speech: added automatic marking of phonological processes, option to add your own customized norms & option for continuous recording.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/articulation-test-center-pro/id700440156?mt=8
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Avaz FreeSpeech: added Spanish language option, support for multiple phrases, improved vocabulary organization and the ability to bypass prediction to create a wider variety of sentences

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/avaz-freespeech/id1047763490?mt=8
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Boo Articulation Helper by Bildligt talat AB: at my request they added the option for VC combinations to this new app.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/boo-articulation-helper/id1216642311?mt=8
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Feed Maxi Pro by Speak Eazy Apps: added new food items, optional hints, home button & two speed options (regular & double).

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/feed-maxi-pro/id706581884?mt=8
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Language Therapy 4-in-1 by Tactus Therapy Solutions Ltd.: has a fresh new look with more built-in supports for using the app.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/language-therapy-4-in-1/id525278822?mt=8
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Hoping to see a few more apps updated to be compatible with iOS 11 in 2018 and that app developers can then focus on creating more new apps for SLPs to use in therapy 😊
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Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist
Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC – inclusive wellness & educational activities for kids of all abilities
Facebook Messaging for OMazing Kids: http://m.me/OMazingKidsYoga (note: Facebook frequently changes the link to messaging so if this one doesn’t work head over to my page and click on the “Send Message” button)
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsYoga
AppPeeps Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OMazingKidsAppPeeps/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/amoorad
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/omazingkids
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/amoorad1
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/OMazingKids/
YappGuru: http://yappguru.com/user/omazing-kids/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/110305433538768736741
Boardmaker Share: http://www.boardmakershare.com/Community/FriendsProfile/10916/Angela-Moorad
Blog: http://omazingkidsllc.com
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Angela Moorad is the founder of OMazing Kids, LLC and is an ASHA certified & licensed pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Kids Yoga Teacher with 28 years experience working in a variety of settings (early intervention, schools, teletherapy & a nonprofit pediatric rehab hospital for children with developmental disabilities). She is an app beta tester for educational & therapeutic app developers and loves sharing info about great apps, products, books & toys to use with kids of all abilities.

Top 10 AAC App Updates in 2017

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It’s amazing to see how much the field of AAC has changed over the course of my 28 year career as a SLP. Long gone are the old days of it taking years to see any major changes or improvements in AAC options. We are living in an era of rapid advancement thanks largely to social media that provides the opportunity for AAC users, therapists, teachers & parents to provide direct input to app and technology developers regarding what features we need. Most good AAC apps are now updated several times a year. Here is my list of top 10 updates that occurred for AAC apps in 2017:

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#1: Proloquo2Go – in March 2017 version 5.0 added an amazing Search feature & Progressive Language. If you haven’t checked out this AAC app in awhile, I invite you to take a look at it again. These new features are a game changer. It also now includes English, Spanish, French & Dutch languages.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/proloquo2go/id308368164?mt=8

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#2: Speak For Yourself – in January 2017 version 2.6 made this a Universal iOS app that can be used on an iPhone, iPod Touch & iPad. It also includes room for up to 40 different users (a great feature for SLPs trialing AAC with several different patients). Other updates this year added options to share vocabulary via AirDrop, more buttons became editable, the sentence bar background color can be changed & a “Manual Whisper Mode” was added to allow users to create a whole sentence prior to speaking.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/speak-for-yourself/id482508198?mt=8

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#3: LAMP Words for Life – in July 2017 version 1.6.0 added a bilingual Spanish/English pageset, Word Finder updated to show and take you through the path to a word and added the option to backup to DropBox.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/lamp-words-for-life/id551215116?mt=8

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#4: TouchChat with WordPower HD – several updates added new pageset options, Arabic language added through an in-app purchase, Canadian French vocabulary files available as free upgrade and vocabulary files can now be backed up to DropBox and can be shared via E-mail and iMessaging.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/touchchat-hd-aac-w-wordpower/id412351574?mt=8

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#5: GoTalk Now Plus – in March 2017 version 4.11.6 added PCS Thinline symbols as an option through in-app purchase. In September 2017 version 4.11.11 added the option for Hybrid Scene pages (visual scene + up to 4 buttons) & the option to share messages from the Express Bar to Facebook, e-mail and text messaging.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/gotalk-now-plus/id742150885?mt=8

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#6: Snap + Core First – this new app was just released in June 2017 and in December 2017 already had a major update to add a bilingual Spanish/English pageset option & Spanish voices. At the end of October 2017 they added access to voice output in the free version of this app for ASHA certified SLPs as part of your MyTobiiDynavox account.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/snap-core-first/id1072799231?mt=8

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#7: Avaz Pro – in May 2017 version 4.2.6 added the option of having up to 77 buttons per screen. In September 2017 version 4.3 added the option to share via AirDrop and the Search now takes you through the path to a word.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/avaz-pro-aac-app-for-autism/id558161781?mt=8

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#8: ChatAble & Predictable apps by TherapyBox both had major overhauls in 2017.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/chatable-symbol-based-app/id803004748?mt=8

& https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/predictable/id404445007?mt=8

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#9: BRIDGE Communication – in January 2017 version 1.17 added the option to add video clips to buttons. The price was lowered to 99 cents.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bridge-communication/id983660714?mt=8

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#10: Custom Boards Premium by Smarty Ears had a major overhaul. New templates and updated Smarty Symbols were added. A great affordable option for making printable choice boards and visual supports.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/custom-boards-premium/id463344117?mt=8
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See this updated post for info about how SLPs can get free access to several AAC apps, funding tips & links to AAC user Facebook groups: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2016/06/11/aac-tips-how-slps-can-get-free-access-to-aac-apps-aac-app-user-groups-funding-options-more/.
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2017 was a years of ups & downs in the world of AAC apps. It was exciting to see so many great improvements in apps and a couple of new apps released but at the same time very sad to see a few AAC apps either disappear or no longer function properly after the release of iOS 11. I’ve received numerous messages on my OMazing Kids page from parents and therapists with very heartbreaking stories of AAC users losing their voice when iOS 11 came out. Several small AAC app developers had not updated those apps in almost 5 years. It’s one thing to lose a favorite game or therapy app but a whole different thing to lose an AAC app. It’s a cautionary tale to anyone who has thoughts of developing a new AAC app. Beyond the initial costs of developing the app, it is imperative that you also have a very well thought out long term plan and finances for supporting and keeping an AAC app updated.
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Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist
Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC – inclusive wellness & educational activities for kids of all abilities
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Angela Moorad is the founder of OMazing Kids, LLC and is an ASHA certified & licensed pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Kids Yoga Teacher with 28 years experience working in a variety of settings (early intervention, schools, teletherapy & a nonprofit pediatric rehab hospital for children with developmental disabilities). She is an app beta tester for educational & therapeutic app developers and loves sharing info about great apps, products, books & toys to use with kids of all abilities.