Apps are great tools for speech-language professionals, as we saw in Part 5, but they are also extraordinarily helpful for clients to use for speech therapy at home. SLPs need to know about the apps their clients will use, so they can recommend, adjust, train, and support these apps too. Here are over 35 apps that can be used to enhance communication and quality of life at home:

Speech Therapy at Home: 5 Ways to Use Apps

1) Home Therapy Programs

Touch-screen technology has dramatically improved speech therapy homework by giving clients access to many of the same exercises and stimuli they use in therapy. While speech therapy software cannot replace a therapist, it can provide more interactive and accessible ways to practice, increasing the intensity needed to recover. While many home speech therapy apps can be used independently, the therapist can train the client or care partner to get more out of these apps by providing individualized cues, strategies, or feedback after setting up the program.

  • Aphasia: Language Therapy allows home practice of listening, speaking, reading, and writing, with reports that can be emailed to the SLP

Research shows that using Language Therapy just 20 minutes a day for 4 weeks can significantly improve language abilities in people with chronic aphasia who do speech therapy at home.

  • Apraxia: Speech Sounds on Cue uses video modeling, automatic recording, and audio playback to help users perform phrase completion exercises
  • Cognition: Brain HQ trains attention, memory, and speed to sharpen cognitive processes; add value by using strategies & self-ratings
  • Dysarthria: Pocket Artic targets specific sounds at the word, phrase, or sentence-level, with on-screen audio recording for self-monitoring
  • Dysphagia: iSwallow guides the client through repetitions and self-ratings of prescribed swallowing exercises

2) Compensation Apps

Everyone uses apps like Calendar, Notes, and Reminders to help remember important information. Our brains can’t do everything perfectly, so we use technology to compensate for our weaknesses. These apps are specifically helpful for supporting those with communication or cognitive challenges to successfully execute everyday activities:

  • Communication: Pictello, Speech Journal, and Little Story Creator are talking photo albums that can be used to share stories and experiences
  • Reading: Natural Reader reads websites and other files aloud to help with comprehension
  • Writing: iWordQ helps struggling writers by predicting words while typing and reading back what’s been written

Many of the built-in accessibility options help people to read and write. See how to use text-to-speech, voice dictation, and third-party keyboards that can help with literacy.

  • Executive Functioning: CanPlan helps with independence by explaining each step of a task, issuing reminders, and showing completion
  • Memory: QCard is a schedule and reminder app specifically for people with brain injury, breaking down tasks into steps with options to remind others
  • Insight: Track’n’Share (lite version) lets users collect data to track daily moods, habits, and exercises with optional sharing with a therapist
  • Safety: Unus Tactus (lite version) helps people make phone calls by touching photos instead of names, doubling as a GPS tracker for those who wander

3) AAC

Augmentative and alternative communication apps must be carefully selected to match the needs and abilities of the user. They are then customized as the user is trained to communicate using symbols, text, scenes, or pre-stored messages.

4) Social Connection

People with communication disorders often feel socially isolated, but using social media can connect them with others, overcoming barriers encountered in face-to-face communication. It’s important to choose the right social media format for the needs and abilities of the user.

  • Email and SMS: Built-in Mail and iMessage apps help people connect to family and friends; some AAC programs will output to these apps or users can learn strategies to use them directly
  • Community: Facebook connects families, friends, and people with similar interests; look for stroke and brain injury survivor support groups
  • Visual Bookmarks: Use Pinterest to create communication boards filled with favorite movies, travel destinations, recipes, or unique interests
  • Photo Sharing: Instagram focuses on sharing photos and short videos to let pictures tell the story
  • Video Calls: Facetime, Skype, and Oovoo connect people face-to-face with video, allowing use of facial expressions, gestures, & visual supports
Aphasia Recovery Connection

The Aphasia Recovery Connection is dedicated to the social connection of people with aphasia through social media, video calls, and live events like cruises, boot camp, and retreats. SLPs can join as well, to learn & share.

5) Edutainment

People with new communication challenges often find themselves isolated at home. The iPad offers entertaining activities to help fill the time, while also improving language and cognitive skills:

  • Word Games: Jay Bacal develops a range of fun word games for adults
  • Puzzles: Set Pro HD offers visual logic puzzles; Lumosity brain training games offer more advanced challenges
  • Books: While reading on the iBooks or Kindle app, learn new words by using the built-in dictionary or listen to challenging passages with text-to-speech
  • Audio: Download Podcasts or iTunesU courses to learn something new and work on attention or note-taking skills
  • Video: While watching movies and TV shows on Netflix, turn on captions to work on reading or improve auditory comprehension

 


 

In Part 7, we conclude the series with tips on how to ensure success using apps. Sign up for the newsletter to get the whole series delivered to your inbox!