Archive for the ‘Augmentative Communication’ Category

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
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 App} Looking for an easy way to make choice boards? Check out the brand new Make A Choice AAC app by pkclSoft

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{New App} Looking for an easy way to make choice boards? Check out the brand new Make A Choice AAC app by pkclSoft

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The app was developed to meet a need expressed by a parent of a child with special needs to be able to quickly create choice boards on the go. I enjoyed helping with beta testing and used it today to quickly prep for a cookie decorating activity we have on Monday. Unique features include the “Pick a Choice Board” area where you can tap on a pic to open that board, the ability to copy/paste pics into the app and the ability to reuse buttons in new boards. I like that it has a plain black background and that there is a lot of space between the buttons. Busy SLPs and parents will appreciate the value of this inexpensive and user friendly app. It would make a great stocking stuffer this Christmas 🎄
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Purchase it on the App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/make-a-choice-aac-buttons/id1295966224?mt=8, $4.99 in the USA App Store (prices vary elsewhere based on the exchange rate)
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See examples and “how to” videos on their Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/AppMakeAChoice
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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 + Free Printables for AAC Core Vocabulary} Mouse by Zebo Ludvicek

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I may also program a page for this book in the TouchChat with WordPower 60 Basic pageset since it has templates for early childhood books.
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{App Review} Reading Train series of apps – great for early literacy and targeting core vocabulary for AAC

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Looking for high quality apps specifically designed for early readers? To go with classroom themes? Or to target core vocabulary for kids using AAC? Then check out the well designed series of apps by Libby Curran, an award winning teacher, at The Reading Train. Of course these apps will need to be on a separate device than the one being used for AAC.

Reading Train Full STEAM Ahead Books, Songs, Games by The Learning Station, LLC
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/reading-train-full-steam-ahead-books-songs-games/id962171685?mt=8, $19.99

• over 200 books organized into 10 categories (story park, colors, shapes, numbers, animals, animal groups, creature features (body parts), life science, physical science & earth and space). The inclusion of science STEAM topics in early readers will be particularly helpful for those of us looking for age respectful resources to use with older patients/students who are still at an early reader level.
• Levels A, B & C. It’s great to have these levels within early readers so you can start off very easy and work up in small steps.
• listen, read and record modes
• tap and hold to have a word highlighted and read to you
• built in picture word dictionary with over 450 words. This area can be sorted alphabetically or by categories/subcategories. I’ve used this dictionary area to help teach kids vocabulary and simple definitions.
• 20 songs
• set up unlimited number of users
• fun train game at the end of each book
• high quality voiceovers and music
• nice graphics and large font against a plain white background
• can easily toggle off the intro song on the home screen
• intuitive app interface
• secured parent/teacher area

Just a few examples of Core Vocabulary in these books:

* Here & come: Level A – Colors – The Gray Book, Blue Vehicle Book

* Is: Level A – Colors – The White Book, The Red Book

* See: Level A – Colors – The Green Book, The Yellow Book

* Look: Level A – Colors – The Black Book, The Orange Animal Book

* Like: Level A – Colors – The Pink Book, The Purple Book

* Am: Level A – Colors – The Brown Book

(Free lite version to try before you buy: Reading Train Starter Books, Songs & Quizzes by The Learning Station, LLC, https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/reading-train-starter-books-songs-quizzes/id702227884?mt=8)

They also offer an app specifically geared towards the earliest readers: Reading Train – My First Books, Songs & Games by The Learning Station, LLC, https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/reading-train-my-first-books-songs-games/id1201673979?mt=8, $19.99

It is similar to their first app but has over 140 books. Most are also found in the first app but there are 4 categories unique to this app: ABC, animal homes, story town & story land.

Their third app has 72 books with a sole focus on the alphabet themed books. Alphabet Park is the same as the ABC section in the Reading Train – My First Books app. But this app also offers level 2 (Alphabet Town) and level 3 (Alphabet Land) sections that are unique to this app. It also contains a picture word dictionary and the section of 20 songs. Reading Train: Alphabet Books, Songs & Games by The Learning Station, LLC, https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/reading-train-alphabet-books-songs-games/id903741015?mt=8, $3.99

(Free lite version to try before you buy: Reading Train Free Alphabet Books, Songs & Games by The Learning Station, LLC, https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/reading-train-free-alphabet-books-songs-games/id957316999?mt=8)

They also offer a Christmas themed app: Reading Train Christmas Books, Songs & Games by The Learning Station, LLC, https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/reading-train-christmas-books-songs-games/id1056021768?mt=8, $1.99

See the app developer’s website for more info about the apps and how to use them: http://www.readingtrain.org

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Wishes for future updates for all of the apps in this series:
• add the ability to adjust the length of time a user has to tap and hold to have a word highlighted and read aloud.
• add the option for auto page turning when a book is in “listen” mode

The FAQ section on their website indicates that they have plans for this. These features would make the app more special needs friendly.

It would also be nice to have a couple of songs added that would be more interesting to older users who are still functioning at an early reader level.
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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/readingbuds
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Note: Prices are from the USA App Store at the time this review was posted. App prices can vary greatly over time. You can search for the pricing history on any app on the AppShopper website. Prices will vary outside of the USA based on the exchange rate. This post does not contain affiliate links and I do not get paid to post reviews about apps.
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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: https://www.facebook.com/messages/174264525957894
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 over 27 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.

{50+ Fun Food Apps} Expanding AAC opportunities with kids cooking & food themed apps

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{50+ Fun Food Apps} Expanding AAC opportunities with kids cooking & food themed apps

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One of the first motivators for many beginning AAC users is to request food. But then sometimes kids get stuck there. One way to move on is to tap into that high interest area by using food and cooking themed apps on a second iPad. Many of these apps are filled with opportunities to target verbs, adjectives, emotions and core vocabulary on their AAC device all centered around a food theme. I went through my app collection and compiled this list with a wide range of ages in mind:

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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: https://www.facebook.com/messages/174264525957894
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 over 27 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.

 

{Free Printable} Free printable symbols for colored bubble wands & great deal on bubble wands on clearance ($1.00 per pack of 6)

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I love bubbles and over my 27+ year career have tried all kinds of different types of bubbles, bubble blowers & bubble containers. I have several “no-spill” containers that kids can use independently but when I want to facilitate requesting and commenting these colored bubble wands are my current faves. I discovered them when I had a young patient with Autism who wanted “big bubbles” and had meltdowns that none of my other bubble options made bubbles big enough. Well these wands can make some really big bubbles if you swish/swoop them through the air just right but can also make tons of small bubbles if you move the wand while blowing into it (they should seriously have a class in the art of bubble blowing in grad school… lol!).

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I stocked up when I saw my favorite bubble wands on clearance for $1.00 per pack of 6 (usually $3.88 per pack) on Sunday at the Walmart Neighborhood Market at 36th Ave NW and Rock Creek Road in Norman, OK.  I have one pink bubble wand that I bought at Michael’s for a couple of patients whose favorite color is pink. I’ll just keep refilling it. Should have enough bubbles to carry me through until retirement in 42 weeks. I know I had promised that I wasn’t buying any more therapy stuff but bubbles don’t count since they are consumables (right?).

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Once I open them, I store the bubble wands in an empty rice container since they sometimes leak if laid down flat. I label the container with a large laminated symbol. I cut the smaller symbols apart, laminate & then cut again and store on a small section of plastic file folder in the container. That way the symbols are always with the bubble set to used for Aided Language Stimulation or for the child to request or comment via PECS. Of course if a child has their own PECS book or AAC device, I make sure they have this vocabulary within it.

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Here is a free printable 1-page color PDF of the symbols:

free printable symbols for colored bubble wands – from OMazing Kids – Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP

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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: https://www.facebook.com/messages/174264525957894
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 over 27 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.

{App Review} Communication Adventure – An app for communication training for caregivers of children with complex communication needs by Avaz, Inc.

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{App Review} Communication Adventure – An app for communication training for caregivers of children with complex communication needs by Avaz, Inc.

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This app from Avaz provides several scenarios to practice opportunities for encouraging and expanding communication. The tips are pretty universal and could apply to any robust AAC system or even general language development. There were a couple of items that I might have coached a parent a little differently in but overall the app has good info and would be a fun and very affordable way to train parents, teachers, aides or other caregivers on ways to encourage & expand communication. After you complete all the modules you then have access to an area with additional tips / ideas.
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[FYI… if you have the  Avaz Pro – AAC App (https://appsto.re/us/19nrH.i) then you have similar scenarios in the “dashboard” area but they take longer to unlock there since that is contingent upon practicing sentences]
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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

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 over 27 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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