There are hundreds of available apps for adult speech pathology. How do you know which app to choose? How can iPad apps help an adult improve their communication and swallowing skills? As a community-based, mobile speech pathology practice, we have been using iPads for years. It is astounding how helpful our iPads are. We can jump online to access our file notes. We just show a you tube video to a client to explain a concept. We can take photos and videos of sessions to share with family members. And we can use iPad apps in sessions, to make things fun and effective. Our speech pathologists have tried out apps that are fantastic but expensive, apps that are fantastic yet cheap, and some that are cheap and plain terrible. After all this trial and error, we thought we would share a few of our favourites with you.
Pictello is a story creator app. You can add your own pictures, videos, and record speech on every “page” in a story. This opens up a world of possibilities in adult speech pathology.
I’ve used the app for people with complex communication needs, who can take photos of their day and then use their story books to “tell” other people what they’ve been up to. I’ve used the app for people with aphasia, who take photos of things in their home and use them for naming practicing (personal photos really helps generalisation). I’ve used the app for a person with TBI who couldn’t remember recent events, so they took photos and created a photo journal, with words and text to help them remember details from each event.
2. Aspiration disorders
This is an educational app. It starts with an illustration of an adult showing their head and neck, side on. You can play an animation of a normal swallow, an aspiration swallow, and a penetration swallow. There are also real videos of people undergoing Modified Barium Swallow.
I’ve used the app in education sessions with support workers and nursing home staff, to explain a normal and a disordered swallow. I have also used the app with my clients to explain what might happen at a Modified Barium Swallow clinic. I consistently get feedback that this is the best part of my education sessions, so I highly recommend it!
3. Tactus therapy
You can’t create a “top 5” list of adult speech pathology apps without mentioning Tactus Therapy. In case you are new to speech pathology, or you’ve been in hibernation, Megan Sutton (based in Canada) has been creating specific adult speech pathology apps for years. She has apps available for speech, language, cognition, and swallowing. They are easy to use, intuitive, and grounded in research and theory.
I’ve used the Tactus apps in a range of ways. Sometimes I use her therapy apps in a session, because it can mix things up and keep sessions fun, even though I prefer to keep my home visits “face to face” (off technology). The Tactus apps can be fantastic for home practice, if your client has an iPad. I’ve also used them for spontaneous assessments. Once or twice, I’ve found myself wondering about an individual’s comprehension in need of a quick “test”, I’ve pulled open the Language Therapy app and done a few of the comprehension activities. I also recommend them to the inpatient rehabilitation hospital we service, so that patients can increase the intensity of practice when we’re not on site.
4. Apple News
All iPad users should have the Apple News app on their device. The app curates news stories it thinks you will like. I find it user friendly, but you don’t have to use the Apple News app. Any app from your preferred newspaper will do.
I use the News app constantly. It’s great for practicing functional reading comprehension. It’s great for stuttering therapy – practicing the Camperdown Program in a reading activity. It provides topics for discussion in conversation therapy. It can provoke debate and help people consider different points of view and think flexibly. I can read a story out loud for auditory comprehension practice. And on goes the list…..
This one’s not a therapy suggestion. Trello is an organisational app. It’s a bit like a digital whiteboard, and you can create cards (think post-it notes) into organised lists on your whiteboard. Best of all, it’s free.
Trello was a game-changer for our mobile practice. I’ve used it to create a digital library of our practice resources. I was finding it tricky to share with my team what resources were available for them to loan, and to keep track of who borrowed what. Enter our Trello digital library. I created lists for each practice area (e.g. assessments, speech, voice, language, AAC) and within each list there are cards for each resource. I could add a photo of each resource (so we know what it looks like and what condition it’s in) as well as details about where we bought it and how much it cost. We can move a resource into the “borrowed” list when it’s on loan. As a mobile team, we know where to go if we want to borrow an item. We also have a Trello staff meeting board (where team members can add items to the agenda), a new staff induction board, and a professional development board (so we can keep track of all the amazing PD on offer for adult speech pathology). My Practice Administrator LOVES her Trello board for tracking her daily tasks. Trello has “repeatable tasks” that magically appear in your list if they need to be done on a particular day. Voila.