{AAC Tips} How SLPs can get FREE access to AAC apps, AAC app user groups, funding options & more! (2021)

{AAC Tips} How SLPs can get FREE access to AAC apps, AAC app user groups, funding options & more! (2021 Edition)

I’m doing a simplified version of this blog post. Each section will now be a separate blog post and then will be listed alphabetically and linked here. The focus continues to be on iOS AAC apps but there will also be some linked posts about AAC options on other platforms (Android, Windows, Amazon Kindle Fire, etc.).  

An AAC eval should include consideration and trials of traditional SGDs. You can contact your local AAC vendor reps for training and to borrow an SGD for short term loan.

A good AAC eval should also include consideration of features uniquely available in AAC apps but folks don’t often know how to get access to those. So I continue to feel the need to share info about that to help my fellow speechies build a better equipped AAC toolbox. I retired from clinical practice and am now doing AAC consulting.

The problem is even if there is a free or low cost lite version of a particular AAC app, it is not the same as trialing the full featured app. How can you do a true feature-match when you don’t have all the features? Many SLPs see the prices in the App Store and assume they would have to personally purchase apps or try to get their facility or school to do so. Well unless you work in some mythical setting with unlimited funds or have a well established booming private practice, it’s unlikely that you would be able to afford very many AAC apps. Not saying they are overpriced. App developers have significant costs related to keeping robust AAC apps updated and paying licensing fees for high quality symbol sets and voices. So we shouldn’t expect these apps to be priced at the same level as other speech therapy apps or kids educational apps.

Android AAC Apps: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2020/12/01/android-aac-apps/

How to Get Access to the Top 12 iOS Symbol-Based AAC Apps (1/29/22): https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/How-to-Get-Access-to-the-Top-12-iOS-Symbol-Based-AAC-Apps-TPT-Freebie-6869004 

How to Get Access to the Top 13 iOS Text-Based AAC Apps (2/9/22): https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/How-to-Get-Access-to-the-Top-13-iOS-Text-Based-AAC-Apps-TPT-Freebie-7741826

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FREE app, doesn’t have voice output until you activate it via the process described in the posts below: Snap + Core First by Tobii Dynavox LLC, https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/snap-core-first/id1072799231?mt=8

Update 8/24/20: Set up a free MyTobiiDynavox account and go through the steps to verify your status: https://www.mytobiidynavox.com/#/morestuff/professionals. Look on their website and Facebook group for current resources. Their website changes frequently so if any links are not working do a search on their website or ask in their group.

See these posts for info about how to activate the free voice output in the free version of the app: 

1/13/21: See this video on the Tobii Dynavox Technical Support YouTube channel regarding how to fix the voice output if it’s not speaking: https://youtu.be/dE4Zkr6ev5w

11/22/20 Updated post about how SLPs can activate voice output in the free version of the Snap Core First AAC app

https://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsYoga/photos/a.433610663356611.117461.174264525957894/1643765069007825/?type=3&theater

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Update 11/10/20: Snap PODD & Snap Gateway have been added and SLP’s with a verified MyTobiiDynavox for Professionals account can access both for free within the Snap Core First app. See step by step tips on how to access these on this post: https://www.facebook.com/174264525957894/posts/3622621321122180/

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They also have this free companion app filled with videos, tutorials and tips. It’s a very large app so make sure you have plenty of free space and a strong WiFi connection before downloading: Pathways for Core First by Tobii Dynavox LLC, https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pathways-for-core-first/id1187433636?mt=8

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Update 11/5/20: Sharing for anyone who has the Tobii Dynavox Core First mini book PDFs bookmarked. Those have moved to this link: https://www.tobiidynavox.com/software/content/core-first-books-and-lessons/

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Tobii Dynavox has an official Facebook group for users and several of their staff are quick to answer questions & troubleshoot issues: https://www.facebook.com/groups/tobiidynavoxcommunity/?fref=ts

How to sync between the Indi & an iPad:

https://m.facebook.com/groups/127748650590859?view=permalink&id=1779827495382958&_rdr&hc_location=ufi

Training info & videos: https://www.tobiidynavox.com/support-training/snap-core-first/

Free PDFs of printable versions of the core pages in Core First are available in all grid sizes: https://www.tobiidynavox.com/support-training/downloads/snap/printable-core-first-communication-boards/

(Note:  Editable versions are available in Boardmaker Online by typing Core First into the Search All Activities box.)

Updated 8/24/20: Thinking Outside of the Box: Two Creative Uses for Snap Core First – https://omazingkidsllc.com/2020/08/23/thinking-outside-of-the-box-two-creative-uses-for-snap-core-first/

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keep going

But don’t stop there. You need more than 1 tool in your AAC toolbox. If you are a SLP that frequently does AAC evals and makes purchasing recommendations, then many other AAC app developers will provide you with a free promo code for their app so you would be able to trial it with patients.

How to get codes for AAC apps: The process for doing this is a little different for each app. I always start by contacting that developer via Facebook messaging on their FB page for that app. If I don’t get a response there, then I look on their website for an e-mail address or to see if they have a formal process for requesting a copy of the app. This info can be difficult to find so dig a little. It takes some time but is well worth it.  I am a SLP at a non-profit facility that does tons of AAC evals and purchasing recommendations. I have been able to get most of the main AAC apps and therefore have lots of options to trial during AAC evals. Feel pretty tech-geeky spending evenings and weekends doing this but it’s worth it to have access to lots of AAC options that then result in good AAC matches for the kids I serve.

Update 8/24/20: I am now retired but am staying up to date on features in AAC apps in case I decide to do some consulting work and so I’ll be equipped in case any family members ever need AAC.
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Here is an alphabetical list of AAC apps that I have gotten by going through this process and the way(s) I contacted those app developers. I hope I haven’t left anyone off the list. If I have, feel free to send me a message. There is not room to keep all the AAC apps loaded on my iPad at the same time so I rotate them on/off based on my patient’s needs. Most AAC apps are very large so I always suggest that SLPs get an iPad with the largest memory you can afford. Even with two 128GB iPad Airs, I am still constantly playing the “app shuffle” where I delete apps to make room to install others. I will be updating this list as I get new AAC apps:

  • aacorn & aacorn+ (Facebook messaging)
  • AAC Genie (Facebook messaging)
  • AlphaTopics (Facebook messaging)
  • Avatalker (Facebook messaging)
  • Avaz Pro (combo of Facebook messaging & e-mail)
  • BridgeBuilderAAC (Facebook messaging)
  • Click ‘n Talk & Talk’n Photos (Facebook messaging)
  • Clicker Communicator with SymbolStix & Clicker Communicator with PCS (Facebook messaging)
  • CoughDrop (the app developer contacted me)
  • Custom Boards (Facebook messaging)
  • GoTalk Now Plus by Attainment Company (combo of Facebook messaging & e-mail)
  • GoVisual Scene Maker by Attainment Company (e-mail)
  • Grace – Picture Exchange for Non-Verbal People (the app developer contacted me)
  • Grid for iPad by Smartbox Assistive Technology (combo of Facebook messaging & e-mail)
  • iESLp (combo of Facebook messaging & e-mail)
  • image2talk (Facebook messaging)
  • InnerVoice (Facebook messaging)
  • LAMP Words for Life (combo of Facebook messaging & e-mail. The key was to reach out to the app developers John & Cindy Holloran directly. I spent over a year with no success contacting PRC. You have to go through LAMP trainings prior to getting a code. Updated 8/24/20: new link to application: https://aacapps.com/partners/apply)
  • Make a Choice – AAC Buttons by pkclSoft (received a promo code after helping to beta-test this new app)
  • Mighty AAC (got it while it was free)
  • My First AAC (e-mail)
  • Niki Talk, Niki Talk + Tweet, Niki Music (adapted way to play music) & Niki Video (adapted way to play videos) (Facebook messaging)
  • PECS Phase III & PECS IV+ (e-mail – I had helped coordinate bringing a PECS workshop to our facility so that definitely helped)
  • Picture AAC (Facebook messaging)
  • Predictable, Scene & Heard & ChatAble (combo of Facebook messaging & e-mail)
  • Proloquo2Go & Proloquo4Text (AssistiveWare provides a free copy of the iOS and Mac versions of their AAC apps to Speech-Language Pathologists who conduct AAC evaluations on a case-by-case basis. Because they get a limited number of codes, they typically have a waiting list and prioritize requests based on caseload and geographic location. To request getting on that waiting list, SLPs can e-mail support@assistiveware.com. This same process applies to their simPODD app but it provides SLPs with a 1-year subscription (doesn’t include printing) and they will need to request access to simPODD each year).
  • Say Some More AAC Plus (combo of Facebook messaging & e-mail)
  • SayIt! (text to speech) (Facebook messaging)
  • See Me Talk (combo of Facebook messaging & e-mail)
  • simPODD (e-mailed AssistiveWare at support@assistiveware.com – received a free One Year Digital subscription – cannot print)
  • Snap Scene (it took multiple attempts to finally get connected with the right person at Tobii Dynavox to get a code for the full version)
  • So Much 2 Say (Facebook messaging)
  • Speak For Yourself (Facebook messaging)
  • Talk Tablet US (contacted this e-mail address: gusinc@me.com. Updated 8/24/20: That version of the app is no longer available for purchase. Instead they have a TalkTablet LITE – Eval Version for $1.99 and a Pro paid version. I don’t have either of those)
  • Tools2Talk+ (combo of Facebook messaging & e-mail)
  • Total Talk (e-mail) (Update 8/24/20: the app disappeared for several months from the App Store and then a revamped version relaunched as Talk Suite Pro)
  • TouchChat HD with WordPower (contacted my local Saltillo rep via e-mail. Find your rep: https://saltillo.com/reps. A word of advice… You really need the version that includes WordPower)
  • Verbal Me & Verbal Me Español (website contact form)

keys to success

The key is being persistent. If one contact method doesn’t work, then try another. Another key is building relationships on social media. I put quite a bit of time and effort into liking and sharing posts from app developers pages, announcing when they have app sales and even doing reviews and hosting giveaways for them on my blog and social media sites. Some app developers may require proof of you being a SLP (keep in mind that they may have received numerous requests for a free app from parents or AAC users). The other thing to keep in mind is that app developers only get a certain number of promo codes when they release an app or an update to that app. So if they currently don’t have codes, check back again later. Often good to ask right after an app has been released or it has been updated when they would have a fresh batch of codes.
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Despite numerous attempts, I have not yet been successful in getting access to the full version of following AAC app. Which means I can’t recommend it since I have no way to trial the full featured version during an AAC eval nor do I recommend it when therapists or parents ask about AAC options in the numerous Facebook groups that I participate in since I haven’t used it:

  • Sono Flex (the free lite version has some interesting features but can’t make purchasing recommendations off that for the full app. The app has not been updated since 2014 so it will be interesting to see if still exists after iOS 11 is released. Updated 8/24/20: they finally updated that app in March 2018 but have made it clear that their focus is on updates and support for their Snap Core First app)

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Other AAC apps that I have and use:

  • 2Talk – AAC (got it while it was free)
  • AAC Expression Toolkit
  • Alexicom AAC (free. They also have several different paid apps. The app developer has indicated that they have purposefully released several apps specific to certain ages, genders & symbol types to keep the app sizes small and affordable. They will be adding info to their website to help SLPs and parents figure out which app might be best suited to a particular user. Update 8/24/20: This app developer also has several apps specifically designed for adults in medical situations.)
  • BRIDGE Communication – both the Lite and Pro versions (bought both when it they were on sale, it has some cool articulation pages built into it, can add video clips to buttons, several other unique features, has a Spanish option in the settings, has SymbolStix symbols, has a history of being updated frequently, price is very affordable for an app with this many features)
  • CanTunes (free, music choice boards, adapted means of accessing music on your iPad)
  • CardTalk (free & got the IAP to unlock all functions while it was free)
  • ChatterBoards AAC
  • ChoiceBoard – Creator
  • Choice Board Maker
  • Choice Boards
  • CommBoards
  • Communicate Easy
  • Communication Adventure – An app for communication training for caregivers of children with complex communication needs
  • CoreVoice – AAC Core Board
  • EESpeech Basic
  • Emergency Chat
  • Flip Writer AAC (and the Flip Writer Pocket iPhone version)
  • FreeVOCA
  • GoTalk Now Lite (free, has good features for a lite app. Often recommend it as an option while we are working on getting other options in place)
  • Grid Player
  • iHear PECS: Animals (bought it, a bargain for $1.99)
  • iSpeak Button Collection (bought it, $5.99, large full screen round button (looks similar to a BigMack), swipe screen to see the next button, up to 15 buttons)
  • Leeloo AAC – Autism Speech App
  • LetMeTalk
  • MenuAssist (free)
  • MyTalkTools Mobile Lite
  • PAROL (Has several additional features that are cool: an interactive pain scale (same content as the Doloris app that disappeared from the App Store several years ago), a visual timer, a visual sequence page, the ability to print a PDF of picture symbols, etc.)
  • PAROL Mini
  • PhotoVOCA (had gotten an older version while it was free… then was able to udate to the new version for free)
  • PictoMaker
  • Picture Card Maker PLUS (got it while it was free. The app developer is in the process of releasing a major update for it)
  • PlayButton (free, https://appsto.re/us/WZ2lC.i. This FREE app is one of my faves for use as a single message VOCA. The activation area is very large (almost the entire screen). I use Guided Access to lock the “record” button to prevent accidental activations during use. Update 8/24/20: They added a place in the iPad Settings for this app to toggle off the recording button)
  • Posco AAC
  • Quick Type AAC (bought it, a bargain for $1.99)
  • Smooth Talker AAC
  • Sono Flex Lite
  • SoundingBoard (free)
  • Sorenson BuzzCards (type and show, no voice output, designed for hearing impaired to use to quickly communicate with those who don’t know sign)
  • Speak – Text to Speech
  • Spell Better – Literacy Support (includes text to speech)
  • Spuble – creating live speech bubbles (very unique voice to text app that transcribes what a person says so another person can read it on the screen)
  • SymboTalk – AAC Talker
  • TalkBoard Free
  • Talk For Me – Text to Speech
  • Talking Button by Masanori Kubota (got while it was free)
  • Tap Chat
  • TapSpeak Button Plus (won it in a giveaway on PrAACtical AAC)
  • Tom Taps Speak – AAC for Kids
  • Touch Switch (bought it, $4.99, play any music downloaded onto your iPad with full screen round button. Also plays eye catching animations. Really more for “cause & effect” but thought it was worth mentioning)
  • Verbally (free)
  • Voice4u TTS
  • Whiteboard – nothing more, nothing less
  • Widgit Go Basic
  • YesNo – questions made simple
  • Yes or No Communication
  • Yes/No
  • Yes / No Button Free

There are several other AAC apps that I have gotten when they were free for a day or two. When I see one, I download it to try out before deciding if it is worth sharing on social media. There are some apps in the App Store that claim to be AAC but are so poorly designed that I chose not to post about them.

Updated 8/24/20 – AAC apps for communicating about pain & medical situations:

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Updated 8/24/20: Keyboard Extension Apps: It may be helpful to consider using a keyboard extension app that would make the iOS iPad Keyboard easier to use with features that are special needs friendly.

FYI… There are a few AAC apps that use the iOS iPad Keyboard and therefore would allow for a keyboard extension app to be used. Examples include: Speak for Yourself, Proloquo2Go, Mighty AAC, ChatAble, Proloquo4Text, Predictable, Voice4u TTS, QuickType, Flip Writer, HandySpeech and several other text-to-speech (TTS) AAC apps. Exploring alternative keyboards can be a game changer for making typing as a means of AAC accessible. You may also want to explore accessibility features in the iPad settings (https://support.apple.com/guide/ipad/get-started-with-accessibility-features-ipad9a2465f9/ipados), styluses, adapted styluses, keyguards, external Bluetooth keyboards, etc. Take a look at Lauren S. Enders’ well organized Pinterest boards for ideas: https://pin.it/TWn9w6P (styluses: https://pin.it/t4cy8XV; keyboards & keyboard cases: https://pin.it/NydPTE8). I highly encourage you to collaborate with an Occupational Therapist and/or Assistive Technology Specialist when exploring AT options for the iPad. Some of that equipment is pricey so you want to make good decisions that fit that individual child’s needs. You may want to try things out in order to make those decisions. Check with the AT Lending Library in your state: https://www.at3center.net/stateprogram. Many have iPads, specialized apps and AT equipment available for short term loan to try out before making purchasing recommendations.

Updated 8/24/20: See this post for my top 10 free and affordable Text-to-Speech AAC apps: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2020/06/11/top-10-free-and-affordable-ios-text-to-speech-aac-apps-list-compiled-by-angela-moorad-ms-ccc-slp-omazing-kids/

Updated 8/24/20: See quite a bit of info about features in free and affordable symbol-based AAC apps + info about Android versions of apps on this post: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2020/07/13/free-and-affordable-symbol-based-aac-apps-for-ios-ipad-and-iphone-android-google-play-and-amazon-windows-web-browsers-plus-how-to-find-open-source-symbols-list-compiled-by-angela-moorad-ms/
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Free web-based AAC open source options (can be used online and some offer an offline option, may work across platforms):

* AsTeRICS Grid – open source web-based AAC: https://grid.asterics.eu/#welcome. Has the option to set up offline users. Uses voices available on that device or platform. On my iPad the iOS voices showed up as options. The editing is different from what I’m used to so there is a learning curve to get up to speed. Just beginning to explore this option.

* CBoard – open source web-based AAC: https://www.cboard.io. Cboard works on modern browsers and is available on a wide variety of platforms, including desktops, tablets and mobile phones. Offline support is available on Google Chrome (desktop & Android). There is an Android app (see above). Support for up to 33 languages (vary by operating system). Uses open source Mulberry Symbols. More info about features (vary by operating system): https://www.cboard.io/help/#Features & info about how to program and use it: https://www.cboard.io/help/. FYI…. you’ll want to do some editing if you are in the USA. Several of the items are named differently here (ex: biscuit -> cookie, ice lolly -> popsicle, chips -> fries, crisps -> chips, etc.).

* OptiKey – open source Windows eye-tracking and communication tool: http://www.optikey.org, https://github.com/Optikey/Optikey/wiki. Optikey is an assistive on-screen keyboard which runs on Windows. It is designed to be used with a low cost eye-tracking device to bring keyboard control, mouse control and speech to people with motor and speech limitations, such as people living with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) / Motor Neuron Disease (MND). Includes support for the CommuniKate symbol communication boards. More info: https://github.com/Optikey/Optikey/wiki/Support-for-CommuniKate-boards & http://communikate.equalitytime.co.uk. CommuniKate is designed for people who rely heavily on the environment or context in order to communicate effectively but understand concepts and language used in conversation and during everyday activities.

Affordable web-based AAC open source option (can be used in a web browser online and works in apps across multiple platforms – iOS, Android, Amazon Kindle, Windows):

CoughDrop – open source cloud-based AAC: https://www.mycoughdrop.com. They offer a free 2-month trial. After that it’s either a monthly subscription (currently $6.00 per month). Info about other pricing options: https://www.mycoughdrop.com/pricing. They often offer a 50% off discount on the Lifetime Subscription fee in April (Autism Acceptance month) & October (AAC Awareness month). They frequently add new board options and do a good job of keeping the app updated. This is the only affordable AAC option that I’ve seen that can send the text and symbols together in a cohesive message via iMessaging and e-mail. Other higher priced AAC options that can send both symbols & text as a cohesive message: Avaz (in iMessaging and e-mail) and the Clicker Communicator apps (as a PDF either by AirDrop or e-mail. MyTalkTools is the only AAC app that I’ve seen that actually has an iMessaging app component where the app works within iMessaging… but each symbol is messaged separately.)

iOS app: CoughDrop by CoughDrop, Inc., https://apps.apple.com/us/app/coughdrop/id1021384570, Last update: April 2020

Android app: CoughDrop AAC, https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mycoughdrop.coughdrop

Amazon Kindle app: CoughDrop AAC, https://www.amazon.com/CoughDrop-Inc-AAC/dp/B01BU8RUEY/

Windows: You can install CoughDrop as a Windows desktop app on your computer or Windows device. CoughDrop on Windows has some eye-tracking integrations that will help it work better with more devices. Please make sure to download the right version for your operating system. https://www.mycoughdrop.com/download

Web Browser: CoughDrop is a web-first application, and should work with many modern web browsers.

See this for more open source cloud and web-based AAC – not all of the ones listed on the website are free: https://www.openaac.org/aac.html. More about the Open AAC movement: https://www.openaac.org/participate.html

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Sources for symbols to customize AAC apps:
* https://www.opensymbols.org
* http://www.arasaac.org/index.php
* https://mulberrysymbols.org
* https://www.sclera.be/en/picto/overview
* https://icons8.com/icons/set/open-source
* https://www.flaticon.com
* https://openmoji.org/library/
* https://emojiisland.com/pages/free-download-emoji-icons-png
* https://www.joypixels.com
* https://connectability.ca/visuals-engine/
* https://touchchatapp.com/apps/touchchat-windows-editor
* https://www.prentrom.com/prc_advantage/free-software-download-pass
* https://www.pictoselector.eu
* https://www.senteacher.org/print/aac/
* https://lessonpix.com/tryItNow (very affordable at $3.00 per month)
* take your own photos
* search for pictures online
* take screenshots of symbols in free printable manual communication boards or from other AAC apps
* if you are artistic you could even draw your own symbols and import them

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What are my “favorite” AAC apps? I have several based on the features available in them. I know the list above looks overwhelming and I did not get these apps all at the same time. So here is some advice as to where to start in your quest to acquire AAC apps. If I had to narrow down the list to the top 10 robust AAC apps that stay loaded on my iPad all the time and have been a good match for several patients that I serve… they are (list updated 8/24/20 – subject to change as apps are updated with new features and other apps are released):

  • Avaz Pro
  • Clicker Communicator with PCS (and the version with SymbolStix)
  • CoughDrop
  • GoTalk Now Plus
  • Grid for iPad
  • LAMP Words for Life
  • Proloquo2Go
  • Snap Core First
  • Speak for Yourself
  • TouchChat HD with WordPower

I think of these as the most common tools in my AAC toolbox (like a hammer, pliers, saw, tape measure, drill, level, screwdriver & wrench are common tools at home). The rest are still very important “specialty” tools in my toolbox. They are fabulous for meeting less common and very specific needs. Think of an Alan Wrench. Not something you use very often but when you need one it is the only tool that will meet that need. And sometimes the best solution is a combination of several tools. Remember…. Good builders pick tools based on the task.

Feature Matching:

So I bet you are thinking “oh my goodness… how on earth can I learn about all the features to do a feature-match with so many options?”. The apps I have listed above are just the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds.

Updated 8/24/20: 

The best way to keep up to date on the features in AAC apps is to have access to them and use them frequently. You can also gain helpful info in the user groups for apps on Facebook, videos released by the app developer and several resources listed below:

This is one of the most current resources that I’ve seen that lists features in AAC apps & devices: https://cpb-ca-c1.wpmucdn.com/learningnetwork.setbc.org/dist/0/896/files/2019/05/Whos-It-For-DRAFT-May-1-2019.pdf.

The app wheels by Call Scotland are very helpful and were updated in 2020:

iPad Apps for Complex Communication Support Needs: 

https://www.callscotland.org.uk/downloads/posters-and-leaflets/ipad-apps-for-complex-communication-support-needs/

(they also have a version for Android apps but it is older – last updated in 2018: https://www.callscotland.org.uk/downloads/posters-and-leaflets/android-apps-for-complex-communication-support-needs/)

iPad Apps for Learners with Complex Additional Support Needs:

https://www.callscotland.org.uk/downloads/posters-and-leaflets/ipad-apps-for-learners-with-complex-additional-support-needs/

See additional resources at: https://www.callscotland.org.uk/downloads/posters-and-leaflets/ & be sure to follow them on social media to see when updates are made (https://www.facebook.com/CALLScotland1983/ & https://twitter.com/CALLScotland?s=12, https://twitter.com/gxmcneill?s=12).

SET BC Supported AAC Device Comparison Chart April 2019 (their documents only include info on the apps and devices that they use but is still a helpful example and fairly recent): https://bit.ly/31qPo42. They also have a Feature Matching: Linear and Auditory Scanning (February 2019): https://bit.ly/32nIP1E & SET BC AAC Software/Apps with Visual Scenes: Comparison Chart (February 2019): https://bit.ly/3jcykF1

FYI…. features change rapidly as apps are updated or companies release new devices. So as soon as any resource list like these are published it likely already has something outdated in it.

But finding fairly recent documents like these at least gives a good starting point when comparing options in a feature match process. Tip: If a document you find online isn’t dated be sure to look at the iOS requirements listed in the features. There are VERY old charts that date back to iOS 4 that I saw that are totally outdated and are not an accurate or fair depiction of those apps.

FYI 2: I haven’t found any document that contains info on every AAC app or device so it’s important to research and consider ones that may not be on a particular list.

This Feature Match Comparison Chart from the Oklahoma Assistive Technology Center is helpful: https://bit.ly/3hs27cl

A Feature Matching Checklist by Jill Senner & Matt Baud: http://www.talcaac.com/SGD%20Features%20Checklist.pdf & several other great resources: http://www.talcaac.com/download.html. They have great Add-On Social Pages for use with Core Vocabularies: http://www.talcaac.com/pages.html

These two archived webinars by Lauren S. Enders are fairly recent and helpful:

AAC APPS: Considerations for Selecting, Customizing, & Getting Started – Part 1 – Lauren Enders (May 15, 2019) – includes 6 robust folder-based AAC apps (Proloquo2go, TouchChat HD with WordPower, Grid for iPad, Clicker Communicator, Avaz Pro & Snap Core First)

Webinar: https://youtu.be/cr9K1oTwpF8

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Slides: http://bit.ly/EndersAACAppsPart1

http://bit.ly/EndersAACAppsPart1
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AAC APPS: Considerations for Selecting, Customizing, & Getting Started – Part 2 – Lauren Enders (May 15, 2019) – includes 2 robust motor-plan based AAC apps (LAMP Words for Life & Speak for Yourself), 1 robust cloud-based app that’s a mix of folder-based with influences of motor-planning (CoughDrop), plus info about other types of AAC apps (including a nice overview of unique ways to use the GoTalk Now app)

Webinar: https://youtu.be/uTcfOouEi6o

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Slides: http://bit.ly/EndersAACAppsPart2

http://bit.ly/EndersAACAppsPart2
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Also this archived presentation by Christine Baudin: Comparing & Contrasting 5 Common Robust AAC apps – TouchChat with WordPower (focusing on 108 & 20 location page sets), Proloquo2Go (focusing on 7×11 grid), Snap Core First (focusing on 8×10 grid), LAMP Words for Life (84 location) & Speak for Yourself (120 location) – 2018 AAC in the Cloud

https://presenters.aacconference.com/videos/UXpNelFURTQ=

Unfortunately the AAC Ferret app that had been so helpful in searching for apps by specific features no longer exists. Word is the app developer ran into funding issues. Even if you still have that app loaded on your iPad, it no longer works. That app truly was a fabulous tool. My hope is that maybe it will reappear one day or that someone else will develop a tool like that.

My next “go to” resource used to be Jane Farrall’s website with her AAC app lists (http://www.janefarrall.com/aac-apps-lists/). Unfortunately she took that part of her website down since she no longer had time to keep updating it and the lists were outdated. It used to have several amazing lists:

  • Symbol/Picture apps – These are apps that have symbol based pages but don’t make text-to-speech available to the person who uses AAC.
  • Symbol & Text Based apps – These are apps that have symbol pages and make text-to-speech available to the person who uses AAC.
  • Text Based apps – These are apps that make text-to-speech available to the person who uses AAC or that have text only communication pages.

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Funding

Funding:

Wanting to get a bundled iPad with an AAC app in a durable case funded as a “dedicated” SGD through Medicaid or insurance? Your best bet is to check with the funding departments at these companies. They all offer iOS based devices with a variety of AAC apps as an option:

Ablenet: https://quicktalkerfreestyle.com

ACCI: https://www.acciinc.com/dedicated-acci-choice-communicators/

Forbes: https://www.forbesaac.com/proslate-series

Lincare AAC: https://www.lincareaac.com/

Talk to Me Technologies: the Wego A series of devices: https://www.talktometechnologies.com/pages/wegoa

We are fortunate in Oklahoma that Medicaid will consider funding an iPad with a robust AAC app in a durable case as a SGD / DME but they require us to try the full version of the app in order to do a complete feature-match, submit a video of the patient using it and extensive justification as to why that particular option us being recommended. Here in Oklahoma, we can only get funding once every 5 years for AAC (with very rare exceptions) so it’s very important to be able to get a good match for that individual’s needs. See details here: https://www.okabletech.org/community/soonercare-provider-for-speech-generating-devices/

Oklahoma Able Tech: https://www.ok.gov/abletech/# & great info here: http://okabletech-atdiscovery.org/at-discovery/speech-communication/

Another source that I’ve had good success with for funding an iPad with a robust AAC app in a durable case here in Oklahoma is the New Voices grant through Ability Connections Oklahoma: https://www.acok.org  (the funding comes and goes on this grant. See their Facebook page for updates: https://www.facebook.com/abilityconnectionoklahoma/).

If you are in Oklahoma, also check out the AAC Funding Guide: http://fundingguide.okstate.edu/

This website has good info regarding potential funding sources: http://ectacenter.org/topics/atech/funding.asp

There are key times of the year that AAC apps tend to go on sale and I always share that info on my OMazing Kids Facebook page and in the AppPeeps group. Some app developers choose to do sales and others do not. When I have inquired about that, they reply that they feel their app is fairly priced given the ongoing costs related to keeping it updated and licensing fees for symbol sets and voices.

Why do many AAC apps cost so much? Drives me a little nuts when I see unkind comments regarding pricing of well designed AAC apps. Where else would we demand that something be put on sale or even worse demand that it should be free? Really?! The well designed robust AAC apps are a bargain even at full price if you stop to really think about being able to get a “voice” for a patient for a tiny fraction of the cost of traditional SGDs. It has been a game-changer and allowed many parents to be able to no longer have to wait on a SLP to be the decision maker / gatekeeper. Many parents post about “going rogue” in buying an iPad, AAC app & durable case for their child after being told they weren’t “ready” for that. News alert…. the old school mentality of there being a “hierarchy” that a child has to go through to “prove” they are “ready” for robust AAC is antiquated. Not saying that every AAC app or SGD is a good match for every child but I am saying that the days of kids with very complex needs being stuck with just a single message VOCA or a few PECS symbols have to end. See this presentation from Jane Farrall: http://www.janefarrall.com/lets-communicate-plenary-presentation-at-qaselcon16/ , this post about “What is “Beginning” AAC?“: http://www.janefarrall.com/what-is-beginning-aac/, and this powerful post on the Uncommon Sense Blog’s Facebook page: http://bit.ly/230RT5r.
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start
What about parents who want to try out AAC options? I highly recommend that you pursue an AAC eval with a SLP who has expertise in this area. Many larger school districts have an AAC team. But don’t feel that you have to wait if you are a parent who has been told “no” and want to proceed on your own. It may just be a little trickier to determine what the best AAC option will be for your child since most parents don’t have unlimited resources to buy several AAC apps to try. All states in the USA are supposed to have an Assistive Technology Lending Library program where parents & professionals can borrow AAC devices, iPads with AAC apps & other AT for short-term trial. It’s a great way to try various options out before making purchasing decisions. There are lots of great AAC devices and apps. It’s important to do a good feature-match and trial of options. Find the AT Lending Library in your state: https://www.at3center.net/stateprogram

The AT Program in your state may also know of SLPs who do AAC evals and funding resources specific to your area.

You can also search for AT Reuse programs: http://www.passitoncenter.org/reuse_locations.php)

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AAC user groups on facebook
Need support with using an AAC app? Most app developers have a Facebook group for that app. I highly suggest joining these groups for an incredible amount of support from the app developers as well as other parents, therapists & teachers. Every group has it’s own “culture”. Some are very open to discussing any topic. Others are pretty strict about only posting info or questions directly related to that particular app. Here is a list of the Facebook app user groups (updated to include support groups for traditional SGDs & PODD):

I have suggested to the developers of the GoTalk Now app that a group be started but so far I’ve only seen a parent led one in Swedish. I have also suggested to the developer of the new Total Talk AAC app that they start a group. He was very open to the idea so I hope to see that soon.

There are also numerous other AAC-related Facebook groups. Again each having it’s own culture and dynamic. I’m not going to list all of those here…. but if you are a SLP, I definitely suggest joining the AAC for the SLP group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1539830846285663/. Also take a look at the 21st Century AAC Practitioners grouphttps://www.facebook.com/groups/475548015977014/. If you see me “tag” Lauren Enders in a post or comment, it’s because I know that she has a wealth on knowledge about AAC apps, cases, mounting options, etc. You should seriously follow her on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lasenders/. I also know that she will provide an unbiased opinion and always comments in a very supportive way.

Update 8/24/20: See Lauren’s new AAC Boot Camp Infographic: https://www.facebook.com/LaurenSEndersMaCccSlp/posts/2257606171044020?__tn__=H-R)

You may also see me “tag” Carole Zangari from PrAACtical AAC for the same reasons. http://praacticalaac.org/

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{AAC Assessment} “Just like driving a car, when you’ve been doing AAC assessments for a long time, you almost don’t have to think about the details of what you are doing.  I automatically pull out the devices and apps, YouTube, iPad, snack, bubbles and wind-ups, and start playing.  Unfortunately, it is less than helpful to tell people new to AAC to just play with students and watch what they do. In an effort to describe our process, I created a data sheet to break down the steps, and typed up the procedures and suggested apps.”  This post by Vicki Clarke from Dynamic Therapy Associates Inc on PrAACtical AAC is full of awesome tips for AAC assessment! I was excited to get new ideas for several apps that I already had and was inspired to buy an app that’s been on my “wish list” for awhile. I will also confess to buying the hippo toy pictured. It’s been on my “wish list” for awhile too (gotta love shopping on Amazon with free shipping). 😉

http://praacticalaac.org/praactical/aac-assessment-corner-with-vicki-clarke-aac-skills-assessment-for-direct-selectors/

Also: http://praacticalaac.org/praactical/aac-assessment-corner-by-vicki-clarke-is-aac-feature-matching-still-relevant/

Inspired to read more? Check out her other featured posts: http://praacticalaac.org/?s=vicki+clarke

Also check out her fabulous YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/patientmovies, Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dynamic-Therapy-Associates-Inc/120054654686483, Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/aacchicks/ & Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/AACchicks

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conflicting one way signs

What’s the best AAC approach? What’s the best dedicated speech generating device? What’s the best case? What’s the best ______….. Several times a week I am either asked this question or I see it posted in one of the many AAC Facebook groups I follow. Occasionally it seems to end up in a rather heated debate of ______ vs. ________. Even arguments over core vs. fringe vocabulary. For a balanced approach in use of core & fringe vocabulary, check out this fabulous post on PrAACtically AAC: http://praacticalaac.org/praactical/the-baby-the-bathwater-and-core-vocabulary/. This is counterproductive. Although there are key best practices when considering AAC options, there is not any one best AAC option (or one best therapy approach, or one best anything) when it comes to best meeting individual needs. I have added a lot of tools to my toolbox over my 26+ year career as a speech-language pathologist. There have been pivotal moments where new tools were added that forever changed my perspective. Although shiny new tools may be exciting they did not replace the old tried & true tools. The exciting thing about tools is that you can use them together to build & repair. Would it make sense to ask “What’s better…. a hammer or a drill? a saw or a tape measure? a wrench or a flashlight? Of course not. Each tool has it’s specific purpose. You select the tool based on what job you need to accomplish.
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Have questions? The quickest and most reliable way to reach me is via Facebook messaging on my OMazing Kids page. Thank goodness it seems to be immune from spammers unlike my e-mail.
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Are you an AAC app developer? I’d be more than glad to help beta test your app and then post about it when it is released for sale. I don’t charge a fee. Just would need a free promo code for the full version of that AAC app so I can add it to my toolbox. I never post about apps that I haven’t tried out first. Oh and a word of advice to app developers… state run facilities and schools have difficulty with in-app purchases or subscription-based apps as do potential funding sources such as Medicaid or insurance companies. So you will have a wider audience if you also offer a full paid version of your AAC app.

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I am asked pretty frequently for my thoughts on AAC app development. Here is my advice:

  • Any new AAC app needs to support robust communication for a wide variety of functions. There are already lots of simple choice making apps on the market.
  • Take a good look at the major AAC apps on the market and determine what specific features your new app would offer that are not already available.
  • Do lots of beta testing to insure the app is intuitive / easy to use. Even with the best intentions some AAC apps never take off. An example is Total Talk. It has several unique features but is not very intuitive to use and they initially only let you pick one voice (that has since changed but they lost the initial momentum that comes with a new app release). (Update: 8/24/20 – It was nice to see the Total Talk app revamped and relaunched as “Talk Suite Pro”. The app has some unique features so hopefully it will make it this time)
  • You only should offer an AAC app that is truly worth having and meets needs. There are several free or very cheap AAC apps on the market. But you rarely see them mentioned or recommended because they are so poorly designed.
  • Determine what platform you will develop the app for (iOS or Android). It’s very rare for app developers to be able to tackle both platforms and do it well. Most AAC app developers stick with the iOS platform because it is uniform and thus easier and less costly to develop apps for.
  • Beyond the initial costs of developing the app, make sure that you also have a very well thought out long term plan and finances for supporting and keeping an AAC app updated. I’ve received numerous messages on my OMazing Kids page from parents and therapist 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.

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Updated 12/1/20 – Links to other AAC posts:

* Looking for Android AAC Apps? Head over to this post: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2020/12/01/android-aac-apps/. Includes sections for symbol-based & text to speech with robust and free/affordable options in each.

* Free and Affordable Symbol-Based AAC apps for iOS – iPad and iPhone, Android – Google Play and Amazon, Windows, Web Browsers plus how to find Open Source Symbols: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2020/07/13/free-and-affordable-symbol-based-aac-apps-for-ios-ipad-and-iphone-android-google-play-and-amazon-windows-web-browsers-plus-how-to-find-open-source-symbols-list-compiled-by-angela-moorad-ms/

* Free and affordable Text to Speech AAC apps: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2020/06/11/top-10-free-and-affordable-ios-text-to-speech-aac-apps-list-compiled-by-angela-moorad-ms-ccc-slp-omazing-kids/

* Free & affordable big text apps that may be helpful when trying to communicate while wearing a mask: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2020/06/20/10-free-affordable-big-text-apps-list-complied-by-angela-moorad-ms-ccc-slp-omazing-kids/

* Game Apps & AAC: why these need to be on separate devices: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2016/07/31/game-apps-aac-why-these-need-to-be-on-separate-devices/

* Over 100 Free & Affordable Apps + Boom Cards to Target AAC Core Vocabulary: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2020/07/22/over-100-free-affordable-apps-boom-cards-to-target-aac-core-vocabulary-list-compiled-by-angela-moorad-ms-ccc-slp-omazing-kids/

* FREE app + PDF with 8 pages of FREE printables to target Core Vocabulary, Articulation & Rhyming: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2020/07/17/free-app-pdf-with-8-pages-of-free-printables-to-target-core-vocabulary-articulation-rhyming-created-by-angela-moorad-ms-ccc-slp-omazing-kids/

* Review & Comparison of Features in Digital PODD iPad apps (simPODD, Grid for iPad and PODD with Compass) …. plus tons of PODD resources: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2018/01/10/i-have-something-to-say-about-podd/

* Spanish AAC Apps, Devices & Resources (Hablo con CAA): https://omazingkidsllc.com/2018/02/25/spanish-aac-apps-devices-resources-hablo-con-caa/

* Apps & Websites to Create Materials with Symbols on an iPad & iPhone: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2020/08/25/apps-websites-to-create-materials-with-symbols-on-an-ipad-iphone-list-compiled-by-angela-moorad-ms-ccc-slp-at-omazing-kids/

* The iPad & the SLP in 2020 and Beyond: Interactive PDF Resource List of iOS apps, Boom Cards, Teachers Pay Teachers materials, Teletherapy Resources and Online Resources – organized by goal areas, themes and topics (includes AAC & Assistive Technology sections): https://omazingkidsllc.com/2020/11/29/the-ipad-the-slp-in-2020-and-beyond-interactive-pdf-resource-list-of-ios-apps-boom-cards-teachers-pay-teachers-materials-teletherapy-resources-and-online-resources-organized-by-goa/

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Updated 8/24/20:

📥 Want to suggest iOS AAC apps to be added to this post? The best way to reach me is via Facebook messaging over on my OMazing Kids page.

If it’s a free app, please send the link from the USA App Store so I can download and try it out. If it’s a paid app and you are the app developer, please send the link from the USA App Store so I can look at the info before you send a promo code. I want to make sure that one of my iPads or iPhone is compatible in order to try it out.

If you see info or links that need to be updated on this post, feel free to send me a Facebook message on my OMazing Kids page.

Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC
Facebook: https://bit.ly/2Si6k7Y
AppPeeps Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OMazingKidsAppPeeps/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amoorad1/
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/amoorad
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/OMazingKids/
Blog: http://omazingkidsllc.com

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2017 Kidmunicate’s 100 top blogs and websites for SLPs ~ OMazing Kids on the list again

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It is an honor and blessing to see OMazing Kids on the list again this year! That’s three years in a row. 2016 was quite a year on OMazing Kids. As we start 2017, OMazing Kids has had a total of 1,245,083 hits on the blog, 12,984 followers on Facebook, 1,684 followers on Twitter, 2,753 followers on Pinterest, 143 subscribers on YouTube and 443 followers on Instagram (just started exploring that social media platform in 2016.

I invite you to check out all the fabulous blogs and websites on the list. It’s a great way to find new SLP sites to follow: http://kidmunicate.com/100-top-blogs-and-websites-for-speech-and-language-pathology-for-2017

Their description of my blog this year made me laugh since I had no idea I wrote that many posts in 2016 and couldn’t do a headstand to save my soul…. lol! I actually avoid any inversions like that with patients due to the contraindications for kids with seizures and several other diagnoses.

Out of all my blog posts this year, here are the 8 posts that I spent countless hours writing with the intent of passing along knowledge and resources to other speechies as I am getting closer to retirement:

1) To help SLPs find iPad apps useful in our work, this mega post is sorted by goal area and only contains apps that I have personally used and are still currently available. I’m in the process of adding several more apps to the list. The post about this list has gone viral on my Facebook page:

 

I knew there was a big need for this list… but to see that over 75,000 folks have seen the post so far blows my mind. https://omazingkidsllc.com/2016/12/31/the-ipad-the-slp-in-2017-app-list-for-slps-sorted-by-goal-area/

2) Because every child deserves a “voice” and I was seeing way too many posts from fellow SLPs who thought their only options were to try free or very cheap AAC apps with kids, I spent hours compiling get this post to help spread the word about how they can get FREE access to several robust AAC apps as well as info about potential funding sources: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2016/06/11/aac-tips-how-slps-can-get-free-access-to-aac-apps-aac-app-user-groups-funding-options-more/

3 & 4) Because every child deserves to be able to play games: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2016/07/26/adapted-games-for-inclusive-play-candy-land/ & https://omazingkidsllc.com/2016/07/28/no-prep-slp-tips-candy-land/

5) To help enlighten folks to the amazing potential of the iPad as a tool in the SLP toolbox: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2016/06/09/the-ipad-the-slp-toolbox/

6) To share an example of how I teach these challenging concepts through a combination of visual supports & AAC: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2016/05/18/teaching-prepositions-spatial-concepts-free-printable-preposition-and-spatial-concept-activity-cards-for-the-fisher-price-laugh-learn-puppys-activity-home-and-gotalk-now-plus-aac-templ/

7) Because I’ve been doing this for 27 years and had no idea that there was research about a developmental sequence for acquisition of irregular past tense verbs. Totally changed how I teach them: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2016/05/11/free-printable-irregular-past-tense-cards-research-on-developmental-sequence/

8) Because I still enjoy combining kids yoga & great kids picture books to help kids with special needs to see they are wonderful just as they are: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2016/01/06/a-color-of-his-own-the-mixed-up-chameleon-lesson-plan-ideas-free-printables/
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I look forward to seeing what 2017 had in store!
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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
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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 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 Update Tips} Why automatic updates are a bad idea & how to manually update apps

Why automatic app updates are a bad idea and how to manually update iOS apps

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{App Update Tips} There are several reasons why I have “automatic downloads” toggled OFF on all my iPads:

  • Some app updates cause you to lose access to an app. See the “First Nouns” app in this screenshot as an example. The developer has switched to a subscription based model.
  • If an app is working properly with the version of iOS that I’m running on that device, there is no need to update. Doing so may cause problems. The saying “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” applies. As a side note, I always hold off on updating to the latest iOS operating system to allow time for bugs to be worked out and to allow time for app developers to release updates to make their apps compatible with that iOS and work out bugs there too. I use my iPads everyday in speech therapy and especially depend on AAC apps and therapy apps so I can’t afford to take any risks. I look for comments on an app developer’s page and in a variety of FB groups for signs that it’s safe to update the iOS and/or the app.
  • Some updates add content that I’m not interested in. An example of this is when many apps add seasonal content for Halloween.

But there are times that I do need to update an app. I often will look to see if an app has been updated if it is acting glitchy or after I have updated to a more current iOS and apps are acting glitchy with that.

Important reminder: It is always wise to back up any programming that you’ve done on an AAC app BEFORE you install an update. It’s also wise to get any info you need from the data collection area of a therapy app before you install an update.

In order to update apps manually, you go to the App Store, tap “Updates” at the bottom of the screen (or search for the app by name) and read the info closely about the update to decide if you want to install it. NEVER click “update all”. Instead click “update” just on the specific app you have decided to update. Some updates are large and will require a strong WiFi connection and may require you to free up space on your iPad before you install them.
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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
Home E-Mail: amoorad1@juno.com
Facebook Messaging for OMazing Kids: https://www.facebook.com/messages/17426452595789
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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 26 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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Keeping an open mind

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Seriously. If you want to get SLPs in a tizzy just post a question or comment about anything related to oral motor strategies or the Rapid Prompting Method (RPM) in certain Facebook groups. Then step back and watch the panties get in a wad. All kinds of spewing about lack of evidence and some very hateful comments. <<side note: does anyone ask about the use of the Pokemon Go app as an evidenced based practice? Nope. Even ASHA jumped on that crazy bandwagon>>. The problem is they are so close minded that they don’t want to stop to consider that ASHA says “evidence” can also include clinical expertise and patient/caregiver perspectives (http://www.asha.org/Research/EBP/).

While I don’t personally don’t use a lot of oral motor strategies, I have worked closely with SLPs who use that extensively as part of their therapy “toolkit” with fabulous results. As grandma used to say “the proof is in the pudding”.

After watching numerous videos, reading several books and chatting with Elizabeth Vosseller, MA, CCC-SLP, a SLP who specializes in RPM at the Growing Kids Therapy Center (see this post: https://growingkidstherapy.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/my-paradigm-shift-from-traditional-speech-therapy-to-rpm/. She blogs and posts frequently about her RPM successes with patients on her FB page: https://www.facebook.com/GrowingKidsTherapyCenter), my mind is open to the possibility that RPM is in fact a valid approach to try with certain patients. Patients for whom other more traditional AAC approaches have not worked. But I guess those with their panties in a wad would rather these individuals not have a “voice” if it requires atypical types of supports.

Just needed to vent. Hey it’s my page and I can share my thoughts freely here. Be forewarned…. if anyone leaves hateful or disparaging comments on any of my social media sites they will be deleted.
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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: http://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsYoga
AppPeeps Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OMazingKidsAppPeeps/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/amoorad
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/amoorad1
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/OMazingKids/
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 26 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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{No! No! No! ~ Dealing with Challenging Behaviors: SLP Hacks}

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{No! No! No! ~ Dealing with Challenging Behaviors: SLP Hacks} I work in a setting where a large percentage of the patients have challenging behaviors. It’s often a huge undertaking just to get them to engage in any meaningful way. I have lots of strategies in my speechie toolbox including visual schedules, various methods of reinforcement, using techniques from the Hanen & DIR Floortime programs, etc.

I currently have one particular kiddo whose favorite word is “no” and is very tough to engage. Seriously…. as in having whole sessions initially where he would hide like a turtle in his hoodie or plop to the ground and refuse to move. Fast forward several months and he’s a little more willing but still very challenging. Elmo is his BFF who comes to every session. We are usually okay long as the primary focus is on helping Elmo learn to say his speech sounds more clearly (not a lie right? Elmo definitely could use some therapy… lol). What’s funny is that this kiddo almost always answers on behalf of Elmo.

Yesterday in a blended Hanen / DIR Floortime focused session I discovered that this patient thought it was hilarious to take turns playing hide and seek with Elmo & me. I usually alternate sessions between his goals targeting play skills and those focusing on articulation. The problem is even with Elmo incorporated into the artic therapy this patient often immediately responds with a very melodramatic “no! no! no”. But I was prepared for that today. I had the Speech Stickers app ready to work on some CV combinations with him. I quickly changed the target to “no”. Every time he said “no” (to refuse to participate) I added a speech sticker to the screen and imitated his melodramatic production. He immediately was caught off guard, started to giggle and we were eventually able to move on to some other CV combinations. He was highly motivated to finish the stickers to get to the reward animation at the end but to keep him producing the sounds to get there I had to convince him that the characters in the iPad had to “hear” him before they would appear on the screen (had to be sneaky in tapping the scoring at the top so he didn’t catch on that I was actually in charge of it). We ended the session with a highly reinforcing game of Elmo hide and seek.

The reason I share this is that they don’t typically teach SLP students hacks/creative strategies like this in grad school. When you get out in the real world and especially if you work in a setting that has kids with challenging behaviors you will need to develop some creative SLP hacks to engage these kiddos in therapy.

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What are some of your most creative hacks / strategies to keep kids engaged? Join the conversation over on the OMazing Kids Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsAAC/). Unfortunately I had to toggle off commenting here on my blog a couple of years ago due to huge amounts of spam.

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In case you don’t have the SpeechStickers app by Seriously Sticky LLC, I highly recommend it (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/speechstickers/id436101181?mt=8, iPad only, iOS 7.0 or later)!

FYI… They have a second app, Sticky Words, in the works (https://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsYoga/photos/a.1039368119447526.1073741892.174264525957894/1187059944678342/?type=3&theater)…. can’t wait 🙂

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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
Home E-Mail: amoorad1@juno.com
Facebook Messaging for OMazing Kids: https://www.facebook.com/messages/17426452595789
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsYoga
AppPeeps Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OMazingKidsAppPeeps/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/amoorad
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/amoorad1
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/OMazingKids/
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 26 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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{please ignore any ads that may appear below. This is a free blog and I don’t have any control over ads nor do I profit from them}

Game Apps & AAC: why these need to be on separate devices (updated 7/26/22)

{Game Apps & AAC} Here is a perfect example of why an AAC app needs to be on a separate iPad from the “fun stuff”. Last week one of my patients earned 5 minutes of play time at the end of a session. We had already done a full session of aided language input and practice in using the TouchChat with WordPower AAC app. But I did not turn that off when I got out my secondary iPad with all the fun game apps… I always leave a “talker” out and available. This patient chose a basketball game and was having a blast shooting virtual hoops. But the true magic happened next. The game app has a variety of vehicles that go by on the street in the background. To be honest I hadn’t even noticed that they were there. He got so excited and spontaneously activated “groups” -> “vehicles” -> and then found the button for the vehicle that had just gone by in the app. It was fun to watch him go back and forth between shooting hoops and commenting on vehicles. I modeled use of social comments “sweet” & “awesome” when he made a great shot. If I only had one iPad, he would not have had the opportunity for this spontaneous language experience.

I just checked and the game app that we used is still currently FREE:
Streetball Game by Rodrigo Schmitt de Andrade
https://appsto.re/us/Vv80bb.i

(Updated 7/26/22: Unfortunately that particular Streetball basketball app has disappeared from the App Store. But it was just an example. There are lots of apps that a child would enjoy talking about on their AAC device while playing)


{FYI… yes this patient has his own NovaChat AAC device. Unfortunately the charging port is damaged so it has been shipped back for repairs. Glad I have TouchChat set up with the same pageset so we can continue to practice AAC use while his talker is being fixed during his inpatient admission at the hospital where I work as a SLP}


Additional articles about this:

https://praacticalaac.org/praactical/one-mobile-device-or-two-things-to-consider-about-ipadstablets-as-communication-devices/


https://www.friendshipcircle.org/blog/2016/03/08/5-ways-to-optimize-an-ipad-as-a-communication-device/


More Than an AAC Device?

Is it ever appropriate to use a student’s tablet—designed for facilitating communication—for other purposes?

https://leader.pubs.asha.org/doi/full/10.1044/leader.FMP.23062018.6?


Also readUsing Guided Access and Screen Time to Prevent Exiting an App + preventing deleting apps, installing apps and in-app purchases + info for those using Android, Amazon Fire and Windows devices (updated 7-16-22): https://omazingkidsllc.com/2020/10/20/using-guided-access-to-prevent-exiting-an-app-updated-info-for-2020/


Have a question? The best way to reach me is via Facebook messaging over on my OMazing Kids page: https://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsAAC/


Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC, OMazing Kids AAC Consulting

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{Power of Visuals}

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{Power of Visuals} Gotta LOVE the power of visual supports when working with kids with special needs! I have a patient who has had the hardest time understanding and using pronouns (he/she) and prepositions/spatial concepts. He doesn’t have Autism but most of the strategies that I use with that population are helpful for him. The use of visual support cue cards with a picture of a boy or girl, the rule for when to use the pronoun and a picture and description of the mouth shape for “he” vs. “she” in every session for several weeks finally paid off today! So cool to witness the moment it finally clicked for this child. I was able to fade the cue cards today and he had a solid ability to both understand and use these two pronouns correctly. I’m tackling the prepositions/spatial concepts using a similar concept but instead of printed cue cards I’m using the GoTalk Now AAC app as a visual support. Today was the first session where I finally saw the first signs of it clicking for him too. I’m sure for this child it’s the consistent visual + auditory feedback from the AAC app combined with placing a high interest object in/on/under a mini trashcan from the dollar store. I have other prepositions programmed but have them hidden until he masters these first three.

The he/she cue cards are available as part of a free printable in this post: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2016/05/25/free-printable-puppys-pronouns-sentence-building-cards/.

I used the GoTalk NOW PLUS AAC app by Attainment Company (https://appsto.re/us/LlfpS.i). They also have a free lite version of the app (https://appsto.re/us/Yic04.i).
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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
Home E-Mail: amoorad1@juno.com
Facebook Messaging for OMazing Kids: https://www.facebook.com/messages/17426452595789
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsYoga
AppPeeps Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OMazingKidsAppPeeps/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/amoorad
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/amoorad1
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/OMazingKids/
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 26 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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{please ignore any ads that may appear below. This is a free blog and I don’t have any control over ads nor do I profit from them}

{No Prep SLP Tips: Candy Land}

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{No Prep SLP Tips: Candy Land} I know there are several resources on TPT to go with the Candy Land game but I after being a SLP for over 26 years I have an enormous stash of materials and didn’t want to spend the $$$, ink or time printing, laminating and cutting new stuff. So I made colored mats to match the colors in the Candy Land game by cutting apart some old placemats (could also easily be made by laminating colored card stock or construction paper). Then I placed the therapy materials targeting my patient’s goals on the colored mats. During the therapy session we used the Candy Cards app to draw a card, then selected a card from the corresponding colored mat before moving the Candy Land game piece. When the patient drew a double colored card, we did two therapy cards from that mat. I’m storing the colored mats in the game box. Love having resources to “grab & go” 🙂

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More info about adapting the Candy Land game: http://bit.ly/2a6sGBL

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#SLPeeps #ashaigers #NoPrep
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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
Home E-Mail: amoorad1@juno.com
Facebook Messaging for OMazing Kids: https://www.facebook.com/messages/17426452595789
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsYoga
AppPeeps Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OMazingKidsAppPeeps/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/amoorad
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/amoorad1
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/OMazingKids/
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 26 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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{please ignore any ads that may appear below. This is a free blog and I don’t have any control over ads nor do I profit from them}

Adapted Games for Inclusive Play: Candy Land

Adapted Games For Inclusive Play - Candy Land

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Adapted Games for Inclusive Play: Candy Land

I’ve been looking for a way to make the Candy Land game accessible for kids with special needs and found a great solution by combing an app, a specific version of the board game and ideas from an old journal article and a few websites!

Who knew that there has been SO many different versions of this game over the years and that each version has slightly different pictures on the “picture squares” in the game?

Well there has been and I was determined to get the version of the board game that matched up to this app. Could have sworn that I already had the Candy Land board game but looked through my entire stash of materials and couldn’t find it. If I had found it and it wasn’t the right version, my plan was to take screenshots of the pink picture squares from the app and attach them to the game board to make it match.
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After extensive research I finally figured out which version of the Candy Land board game matches this app. I bought “Candy Land – The Kingdom of Sweets Board Game” (2010) on Amazon for $7.49: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00000DMF5 and this app for $.99 (Candy Cards by Panther Technology,  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/candy-cards/id554983778?mt=8 , iOS 3.2 or later, Universal app that works on iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch). I was initially leery of the app since it had not been updated since 2012 but at the price of $.99 decided to try it out. I’m pleased to report that it worked fine on my iPad Air (running iOS 9.3.1) and on my iPhone 5 (running iOS 9.3.2). The only quirky thing I noted when using the app on an iPhone is that the app did not adjust to landscape orientation and had a small black band of dead space at the top and bottom of the screen.

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Check out all the options in this app’s settings area:

Under “Accessibility” settings:

  •  “Safety Time”: For kids who tend to tap repetitively, you can lock the screen for 2, 3, 5 or 10 seconds after drawing each card. That means focus can stay on the game instead of “stimming” on the iPad screen.
  • The “Target” feature can be centered, appear at random places, or even move around the screen if you are wanting to work on “targeted touch”. When “target” is toggled off, you can tap anywhere on the screen to “draw” a card (great for kids with more severe motor impairments).

Under “Play Settings”, you can toggle on/off the background music, the card count, and sound effects and select one of four backgrounds (grey metal, orange, candy stripe and my personal fave… a calming green).

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See more about the app on the developer’s website: http://panthertechnology.com/products/panther-candy-cards/

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So for the bargain price of $8.48 I now have a version of this classic kids game that is more inclusive of kids of a wide range of abilities and needs. I plan on modifying play further when I am in a group or have parents and/or siblings present by playing as “teams” where one teammate’s job is to “draw” the card using the app and the other teammate’s job is to move the game piece. Another option in a 1-on-1 session would be for you and the child to use it as a “cooperative” game and work together as a team to move one of the game pieces to the castle.

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I am also planning on incorporating the ideas for adaptations & task analysis from the journal article “Everyone Can Play!: Adapting the Candy Land Board Game TEACHING Exceptional Children July-August 1996 28: 28-33” (yes I realize the article is 20 years old but the concepts are still valid today). I saved a PDF of the full article out on Dropbox: https://www.dropbox.com/s/1p1pimgnjmm52wp/Everyone%20Can%20Play%20-%20Adapting%20the%20Candy%20Land%20Board%20Game.pdf?dl=0

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{No Prep SLP Tips: Candy Land} https://omazingkidsllc.com/2016/07/28/no-prep-slp-tips-candy-land/

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Additional ideas:

Check out these great Pinterest boards full of game adaptation ideas:

And lots of materials created by SLPs on TPT: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Browse/PreK-12-Subject-Area/Speech-Therapy/Search:candy+land. I especially like this self esteem conversation prompts freebie: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Self-Esteem-Prompts-for-Candy-Land-1152578

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Oooh… just saw this fun idea to combine Candy Land + the Name That Word Game. Love finding new ways to use materials that I already own! I got my copy of that game several years ago at a back-to-school sale at a teacher supply store but saw that it’s available on Amazon.

http://millionsoffingerprints.blogspot.com/2013/05/today-in-speech-therapywe-played-candy.html

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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
Home E-Mail: amoorad1@juno.com
Facebook Messaging for OMazing Kids: https://www.facebook.com/messages/17426452595789
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsYoga
AppPeeps Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OMazingKidsAppPeeps/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/amoorad
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/amoorad1
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/OMazingKids/
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 26 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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{please ignore any ads that may appear below. This is a free blog and I don’t have any control over ads nor do I profit from them}

4 great FREE iOS apps to foster creativity, language and storytelling… great tools to add to your SLP Toolbox

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4 great FREE iOS apps to foster creativity, language and storytelling… great tools to add to your SLP Toolbox:

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These apps can be easily customized to incorporate high interest areas of kids with Autism and other special needs and contain in-app voice and/or video recording to encourage verbalizations (most of my patients are VERY motivated to hear themselves on the iPad).
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All 4 of these apps were verified as being free in the USA App Store at the time of this post. But it is always wise to check app prices prior to downloading since app prices can change frequently with no notice. FYI… If you don’t have an iPad yet or don’t have one running the iOS required to download a particular app, you can download that app on iTunes on a computer and have it in your cloud to install later.
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There are several other apps to support sentence building and sentence building with symbol support. Here are screenshots of the apps that I have. Feel free to send me a message on my OMazing Kids Facebook page if you have questions about any of those apps. Most are not free but are well worth the cost. In addition to these apps, you can also use any robust AAC app to model sentence creation. Facebook Messaging for OMazing Kids: https://www.facebook.com/messages/17426452595789.

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If you are looking for a FREE “non-tech” way to encourage sentence building, check out this printable visual support for building sentences (need Boardmaker to open) http://fdlrsregion3literacyvisuals.wikispaces.com/Fokes+Sentence+Builder
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I have worked with several patients who engaged in almost constant verbal scripting. It is important to understand the function of the scripting. This video is enlightening:

as is the book “Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism“.
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In several cases I have been able to build upon these patient’s high interest areas to build new language scripts through the use of visual supports and apps for sentence building and then other apps to move on to storytelling. This has often resulted in more spontaneous use of functional language.
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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
Home E-Mail: amoorad1@juno.com
Facebook Messaging for OMazing Kids: https://www.facebook.com/messages/17426452595789
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsYoga
AppPeeps Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OMazingKidsAppPeeps/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/amoorad
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/amoorad1
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/OMazingKids/
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 26 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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{please ignore any ads that may appear below. This is a free blog and I don’t have any control over ads nor do I profit from them}