Using Speech Therapy Apps to Treat Listening Comprehension in Adults With Aphasia
4 min read
Just as important as being able to speak is the ability to understand what we hear. Without good listening, or auditory comprehension skills, we can’t know exactly what people are saying to us, which can cause all kinds of problems.
Many stroke survivors and others with aphasia have problems understanding. While this is frequently one of the first skills to come back in recovery, some people have persistent difficulties (such as those with global or Wernicke’s aphasia), and others learn to rely on cues from the context or speaker’s face and tone of voice to fill in the hidden gaps in their understanding.
Speech therapy can help, and apps can be an important part of speech recovery. Nearly all of our apps include spoken language either as the exercise itself or as a support, but certain apps are designed to provide therapeutic exercises to work and improve the auditory comprehension pathways in the brain. These exercises have clear right and wrong answers, and no context from the speaker, so they really challenge the person to use and develop their listening skills.
For those of you trying to help yourself, a client, or a loved one to regain their understanding, here’s the progression we recommend when using our apps.
Easiest –> Hardest
1) Comprehension Therapy
This app shows you pictures, says a word, and then you touch the picture of that word. But it does this on so many levels.
For the most seriously impacted, you can put in your own pictures of family, friends, pets, or favorite things, then have the app show just 2 of these things and say one word. For the more recovered user, show 6 pre-installed pictures of very closely related items using the Hard difficulty. You can even target verbs and adjectives along with common nouns.
Each exercise has a hint – the printed word – to help when you get stuck, as well as a big repeat button to hear the word again. This is where nearly everyone starts to rebuild their listening comprehension.
2) Answering Therapy
The first thing people are expected to do, even when they can’t speak, is answer yes or no questions. “Are you feeling okay?” “Do you know where you are?” “Do you want something to eat?” That’s a lot of words to understand all at once!
In therapy, we start with personal yes/no questions – “Are you Jane?” “Are you married?” – questions with only one content word that have clear right or wrong answers and provide written answers to point to. So that’s exactly what Answering Therapy does! Fill out a short personal survey to be asked questions about your family, age, and location.
The app can also be used for more complex questions, both yes/no and wh-questions. Working with this app can show you how much a person with a communication problem really understands and how accurate their answers might be.
3) Advanced Comprehension Therapy
This app is a real ear work-out! Work up each level of the Identify activity to pick the picture that exactly matches the sentence you hear. Ranging from “the boy is eating” to “she is thrown a ball by him”, this app challenges users to understand each word and the order in which they appear, with half the levels focusing on pronouns (he/him, she/her, they/them).
The Build activity is equal parts understanding and writing, rearranging the words in a sentence. The challenge here is to include all the “little words” in the right order, adding up to 3 words that don’t belong as part of the choices.
Even the best listeners must fully engage their attention to get all the items and order correct in the Follow activity. Follow the directions that are given, starting with “touch the ball” and working up to “touch the large blue striped triangle before you touch the small red solid circle.”
4) Advanced Reading Therapy
While the name says Reading, each passage in this app has full audio to accompany the text. For the person wanting to improve listening, simply hit play and turn the screen away to hear the story read aloud. Then turn the screen back to answer the comprehension questions to test how well you understood and processed the 50-600+ word passages. Adjust the speed of the audio to practice listening fast and slow.
Two of these apps are part of our Advanced Language Therapy app. Save big when you buy this value-priced package of 4 apps for the price of 3.
Want more apps for listening?
Most of our apps can be used for more than one skill. While these apps aren’t designed with listening as the primary goal, they can be used by people looking to improve their listening.
Bonus App 1) Category Therapy
Category Therapy helps people think more deeply about the meaning of words, making connections between concepts for better understanding, word-finding, and reasoning. It’s especially good for people with communication problems because it doesn’t require a verbal response and helps to strengthen cognitive skills that are used for comprehension.
Bonus App 2) Number Therapy
The Understand activity in this app is just like Comprehension Therapy, but entirely about numbers. For someone who struggles to understand single digits, prices, larger numbers, time, or phone numbers, this app provides hours of practice. Select just one kind of number or mix-and-match. You’re in control over how many choices you see and how related the choices are.
This app lets you practice saying, reading, and typing numbers in addition to understanding them, so it’s a full therapy program for communicating numerical concepts.
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