Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Information on Home Use of Speech Therapy Tools

In December, 2014, I was contacted by a company called Software Advice bringing my attention to an article by one of their writers, Gaby Loria, entitled, "Patient Home Usage of Speech Therapy Software IndustryView l 2014." I thought I would share some of the online survey's results with you.
The Key Findings:
  • Three-quarters (74%) of speech therapy patients have used or are using software to practice at home.
  • The majority (89%) of patients that used software for home practice noticed improvements.
  • Most respondents were more likely to choose a therapist-recommended at-home practice solution.
Other interesting findings were:
  • 61% of adult patients felt they improved using speech therapy software
  • 31% of parents of children reported that their child improved using speech therapy software. 
  • Speech therapy software was not a favorite for doing work at home. It seems that clients prefer verbal exercises to all methods. Physical tools, such as "listening tubes," were the least favorite.
The complete article can be found at:

Most Preferred Home Practice Methods

Most Preferred Home Practice Methods

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Create Your Own App With This Impressive App


As I write this I am wondering if app developers for for all kinds of educational materials will become obsolete. Highly unlikely but the thought is satisfying after my experiences. Those who are familiar with my early posts know that not only did I lose money in my quest to develop an app, I also wasted time and experienced exasperation and frustration at every step.

TinyTap is an app that puts ability to create an app into the hands of tech dummies, like me. If you are like me, you do not have thousands of dollars to pay for someone to develop an app but have many good ideas. Here's the big bonus---this app is free. Its only requirements are ideas, time, creativity, and desire. Using this app one can create games, puzzles, quizzes, e-books, soundboards, interactive presentations, digital textbooks, photo albums, and various activities.

To create an app, one can choose from hundreds of different icons and backgrounds. One can draw or write on the app using different virtual writing tools and upload photos and videos of one's own or from YouTube. One can record questions, instructions and descriptions. If the recording asks the child to "Find the apple," the image will become highlighted and there will be a ding indicating her answer was correct. Images can be manipulated on the screen with two fingers.

Because TinyTap offers a wonderful tutorial that takes one step-by-step through the creative process, I will not do the same here. I played around a bit and found the app creation process easy and fun. The quality of the images is excellent. Clearly, I am impressed. 

Using this app, you can create better quality apps than the ones have purchased. You can create a library of your own apps for any age group. How good is that? One more thing. You have the option to publish your app. That way others can use your creation. Tiny Tap offers a large number of apps created by others. The developer decides if she wants to offer her app(s) free of charge or not. As of the publishing of this post, all TinyTap apps are free. Mara Berman, TinyTap's Educational Partnership Director stated, "Indeed anyone can create an app using TinyTap. At the moment, all apps shared publicly on the TinyTap market are free.  Of course, for the most talented teachers, there are certainly ways to monetize TinyTap lessons: You can keep all of your TinyTap lessons private (meaning, they won't be publicly available on the TinyTap market), and then sell the access to the unique URLs, TinyTap can publish your lessons as apps on Google Play and the App Store with a revenue share. You can also embed lessons on your website or blog, increasing engagement and boosting potential ad sales."

TinyTap also offers a community for app creators where one can follow another creator and comment on apps.

You may wonder, as I did, how TinyTap can afford to offer so much for free. I posed the question to Ms. Berman. She answered that TinyTap publishes particularly successful apps and shares the revenue with the creators. Also, "Verizon awarded TinyTap a $1M grand prize for the most powerful answer award in education last year; and just last month a premier European broadcasting network awarded €1M in TV advertising - allowing us to focus on developing the product and userbase, with a longer-term view on profitability."

So there we have it. I am leaving you now to begin creating my first app using TinyTap.

Ages: any
Cost: free
Rating: +++++

Friday, January 16, 2015

Try Correcting These 3 Sounds Together

I've posted another blog about sound correction on my website at:

Friday, December 12, 2014

Tackling Those Stubborn /k/ and /g/ Sounds

For those of you who have been stymied by those hard to treat /k/ and /g/ sounds, I share tips on my website:

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Videos and Signing Are Included in This Vocabulary App

Vocabulary Builder 2 by BumbleBee Kids: This vocabulary app offers 23 words appropriate for the developmental ages 12 months to 3 years. The product description states that the app is appropriate for late talkers, children with autism or PDD and children with speech delays. I question its value with the last group, but more about that later.

The vocabulary is presented in two ways: picture cards and video. Each vocabulary picture card has a video associated with it that demonstrates different ways the item may look, how it is used and places it may be found. There is also an option for viewing the ASL sign version of the picture. 

Real items are used in photos and its written word is below it. The photos clearly depict each item. To the right of the photo are four buttons. The top bottom is a picture of a television. That button takes one to the video. The second button is a thumbs up sign. Tap on it and a screen shows someone signing the word as the word is said. The third button is a question mark. Tap on it and a screen appears with item. A narrator asks a question, the question is answered and followed by a demonstration. For example, for the vocabulary item "bib," the narrator asks, "What does a baby do with a bib?" The question is answered by a child who says, "A baby wears a bib." A video of the mom putting the bib on the baby follows. The last button has a picture of a girl's head. Tap on it and a screen follows with a closeup of a woman saying the word. 

I guess I am an SLP stickler. As a stickler, I noticed numerous issues with the app. The first issue is, if the vocabulary word is a singular such as "balloon," I prefer to see one of that item. Multiples changes the word to "balloons." The videos in this app do not make this distinction. The video shows single as well as multiple balloons and all fall under the word "balloon." When I work with children who have delays I prefer to work on one concept at a time. Mixing up single and plural muddies up the waters a bit for me, unless I am working on the singular/plural concepts, and it may cause confusion for some children. Another issue, I think that the lesson, of learning a specific word, gets lost in the rapid sequence of videos. A counter argument might be that the videos demonstrate the various settings and uses for the selected vocabulary word. That is a good thing. Perhaps if the video sequences had longer pause time between them I might have felt otherwise. The videos in this app are also problematic because the audio is not always in sync with the visuals. Sometimes the audio was delayed or partially came through. In some parts the mouth movements were not in sync with the speaker's mouth movements. I found other issues with the videos. I felt that often the narration was fast and the words were not always clearly articulated. This brings me to the question, how does this app benefit children with speech delays? I cannot really say.

I praise the developer's attempt to bring real life scenarios to the learning of vocabulary thus expanding the child's understanding of each word. The inclusion of the signing option is a nice plus and adds to the varied presentations of words. 

This app comes in at 500MB making it one of the largest I have. This may be a consideration for those who have little room left on their iPads. 

Ages: 12-36 months and children with delayed vocabularies
Cost: $24.99
Developer: BumbleBee Kids @
Rating: ++

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Fun and Clever Word Game

Chain of Thought: developed by Jay and Julie Bacal
It has been a while since I have reviewed an app. Yes, there has been a lot going on but that is not an excuse. I think the primary reason is lack of motivation. Then I opened this app that had been sitting on my iPad for many months and to my surprise it hooked me.

Chain of Thought is a fun and clever word game whose object is to segue one word into another to form a different meaning. The segued words are compound words or two word phrases. In the screen shot below, "mountain" would be correctly paired with "lion" that would correctly be paired with "king," king with "bed," and so on. Clues to the correct word selection are offered by tapping on the question mark. Clues can be used up and earned.

Points are given for words correctly combined and points subtracted for incorrect matches. Each game is also timed. Quick thinkers are rewarded with flashes of words like, "Incredible!!" Words of encouragement are offered when scores are not great. If words are incorrectly matched, the screen turns into an ominous storm with a thundercloud showing the number of points deducted. At the end of each game, players are given 0-5 stars based on one's performance. Scores for each round, the number of hints left, the round being played, the game number for the rounds and the player's total score are shown at the top of the screen.

View bigger - Chain of Thought for Android screenshotView bigger - Chain of Thought for Android screenshot
The graphics on this app are fun, be they the colorful stardust for correct answers or the ominous thundercloud throwing out lightening for errors.

I would use this app with children ages 10+ to build vocabulary, help with the comprehension of commonly used/heard phrases, forming associations and reading skills. Aphasic adults, who are able to read, may find this a fun way to improve their associative and communication skills. I would also recommend this app for students who are learning English as a second language. When you are not using this in therapy, it is a fun game just to play.

Note: Since this app was not specifically developed for therapy, there is no database.
Ages: 10-adult
Rating: +++++
Developer website:
Cost: Free for the Sunrise Level (comprised of five games). The seven other levels can be purchased for $3.99 or $.99 each.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Stuttering During the Preschool Years Helping families understand this condition early on.

I would like to share the article I wrote that was featured in Advance for Speech and Hearing on July 21, 2014. The link is

The formative preschool years, when a child's speech and language skills progress by leaps and bounds, is also the time when the seeds of stuttering often take root. Ignored or inadvertently fertilized, the roots of stuttering grow longer and stronger until the growing child is unable to uproot it.

Those of us who have worked with adults who stutter understand the enormity of their struggle to speak fluently. When working with someone who stutters, it is easy to lose sight of the time when it began to take root. That begs the question as to how we can help children during those critical preschool years? Perhaps the answer is not complicated.

Over the nearly 40 years I have worked as a clinician, I have been keenly aware of the significant role parents play in the progress of their children during therapy. When parents understand their child's disorder and commit to doing their part to help their child, their child's progress is positively affected. When it comes to helping the preschool child who stutters, the assistance of the parents is paramount. I have found that when parents follow my suggestions, the child may learn to regain fluency without my direct intervention.

Working closely with parents is a process that starts with the initial parent interview. The initial interview gives me the opportunity to learn about the parent's understanding of the stuttering, how they react to hearing their child stutter, and their perceptions of the problem. When I first meet with the parents, I ask them general questions about the child's development and health. I then ask them questions specific to their child's speech. I write as they answer the following questions:

1. When did the child begin stuttering?

2. Who was the first person to notice the stutter?

3. Are there any family members who stutter? If yes, who?

4. What do they feel caused the child to begin stuttering?

5. How do they feel their child feels about his/her stuttering (frustrated, refuses to talk, embarrassed, angry, doesn't seem to care)?

6. Does the child avoid certain words, change words, avoid talking, lose his/her temper, or hit other children?

7. Does any of the following happen when the child is trying to get his/her words out: blink his or her eyes, move his or her eyes sideways, lips quiver, he or she inhales deeply, his or her body stiffens, his or her head jerks, and he or she stamps or taps her foot? I will ask the parents if there is anything else they have noticed the child do when stuttering.

8. Is the child's speech better in the morning, after school, at night, when talking to a pet, when talking to a specific person, when relaxed, when playing with, when reciting (numbers, nursery rhyme, alphabet), when singing? Are there other times when the child's speech is better?

9. Is the child's speech worse in the morning, after school, at night, when talking to a pet, when talking to a specific person, when relaxed, when playing with a certain person, when tired, hungry, frustrated, anxious, angry, stressed, excited, or afraid? Are there other times when the child's speech is worse?

10. What has been said or done to help the child stop stuttering?

11. How concerned are you about your child's speech (not concerned at all, somewhat concerned, very concerned, extremely concerned)?

12. How well does the child get along with mother, father, brother(s), sister(s) and anyone else living in the home?

13. What does the child enjoy doing?

14. What does the child dislike doing?

I ask each parent to reply to the questions. It is surprising how many parents have different viewpoints, opinions and perceptions of the child's speech. Thus, it is important to hear what each has to say. This type of interview gives me the leeway to ask them to expand on a response if I need clarification or to ask another question based on their response. If an adult, other than a parent, cares for the child during the day, I ask the adult to respond to the questions as well. If the parent or caregiver cannot attend the session, I telephone the person and write his/her answers on the form.

After I have completed the questionnaire, I spend time talking with the preschooler. The parent is welcome to stay in the room and engage with the child. I listen carefully to the child's speech and record it. I note the type of stuttering (repetitions, prolongations, hesitations), the frequency of the stuttering and if there are any secondary stuttering behaviors. I observe the parent-child interactions. Based on the responses the parents gave during the interview and my observations, I decide if the child needs therapy or if I can work with the parents and hold off on therapy. If I feel comfortable holding off on therapy, I ask the parents if they are in agreement and if they feel they can the implement the suggestions I share with them. The suggestions can be specific to the family dynamics I learn about from our interview. However, the generic suggestions are:

1. Avoid offering their child advice on how to talk, such as slow down, take your time, breathe before you talk, relax, stop talking that way, say it the way I do, and think before you talk.
2. Avoid finishing your child's sentences or words for him or her, talking for him or her, or interrupting him or her when he or she is speaking.
3. Avoid calling their child a "stutterer."
4. Avoid getting upset when their child stutters.
5. Do not tease or mock their child's speech.
6. Avoid asking their child to recite or perform in front of others.
7. Get down to the child's level, make eye contact and listen, without interrupting, to what the child has said.
8. Comment on what the child says not how he or she has said it.

We do not yet have a cure for stuttering. However, what we help families understand and do during the preschool years can make a difference and may be the closest opportunity we have for a cure at this time.

Mirla G. Raz a certified and licensed speech-language pathologist, lives and works in Scottsdale, Ariz.. She has worked extensively with the pediatric population remediating speech sound disorders, language disorders and stuttering. Raz recently published Preschool Stuttering: What Parents Can Do. Her popular Help Me Talk Right series of books have been used by parents and professionals throughout world. Information about the books and her blog can be found on her website,