Use of iPads in therapy.

Written by Kate Grimes


I regularly see articles and studies being published that show the negative impact iPads can have on the development of children’s speech and language skills. Some of the research states that children are using iPads independent of their parents. As a result parents are often recommended to put a limit on the amount of screen time their children have on a daily basis.

Leaving a child to independently ‘use’ or ‘play’ on an iPad for an extended amount of time will limit the number of communication opportunities a child has with another person. As the iPad can’t respond to them in the same way a person does the two way interaction of communication is lost. Some children can become fixated on iPads. I think we can all identify with how lost we are when we don’t have our phones!

Personally, I think when used in a structured way there is a place for iPads in supporting communication development. If used appropriately and for a limited amount of time an iPad can still function as an interactive tool, creating lots of opportunities for your child to communicate with you. I use a number of apps in therapy which I have found helpful in developing speech and language skills. The four below are my favourite apps at the minute. I have no affiliation with any these companies!

My Play Home/ School/ Stores/ Hospital  

I use this series of apps to work on the following language skills:

  1. Naming vocabulary by category e.g. furniture around the: house, school, shops and hospital, food in the kitchen and shops: pizza, sandwich, apple, cereal. The vocabulary needed for school e.g. pencil, paper, book, chair and teacher.
  2. Requesting a turn in using the game e.g. ‘I want a turn’, ‘I want the play shop’/ completing some of the activities around the house e.g. ‘I want to blow bubbles’, ‘I want to throw the ball’.
  3. Describing the actions that the boys, girls and adults do in the house e.g. ‘he is sleeping’, ‘she is jumping’.
  4. Following one and two step instructions around the house/ school/ shops and hospital e.g. ‘get me the apple’, ‘put Dad in the car’, ‘give me the pencil and the paper’, ‘get Mum out of bed and wash her hands’.
  5. Answering ‘who?’ and ‘where?’ questions e.g. ‘Who is working in the hospital? Answer: the doctor’, ‘Who is working in the grocery shop? Answer: the shop assistant’ ‘Where is the girl? Answer: in the clothes shop.’

iSequence 

I use this app to work on:

  1. Sequencing three and four picture stories in the correct order.
  2. Following instructions related to sequences e.g. ‘which picture came first?’ ‘Which picture came third? ‘which picture came last?’
  3. Describing what happens in each of the pictures e.g. ‘he is taking the glass’, ‘he is opening the bottle’, ‘he is pouring the water’.
  4. Answering questions related to prediction e.g. ‘what do you think will happen next?’
  5. Joining sentences together with a conjunction ‘and’ e.g. ‘the boy is openin-g the cupboard and he is taking a glass and he is filling it with water.’

Story Builder   


I find this app really helpful to work on the following:

  1. Encouraging a child to use a full sentence to answer a question e.g. ‘what happens?’ Answer ‘they are dancing in the rain’.
  2. Answering ‘where?’ questions for example ‘where is the boy?’ Answer ‘he’s up in the tree.’
  3. Answering ‘who?’ questions for example ‘who is throwing the ball?’ Answer ‘the boy is throwing the ball’.
  4. Answering ‘why’ questions e.g. ‘why is the horse laughing?’ Answer ‘because the man is in the water’
  5. Drawing clues from the pictures to answer questions e.g. ‘what happened to the man? Answer: ‘The horse threw him into the water’.
  6. Answering questions related to feelings e.g. ‘How does the boy feel?’ ‘Why is he laughing?’

Articulation Station      

 

This series of apps/ or full package of apps are great for working on speech sounds. Most of the children I work with particularly enjoy playing the ‘matching game’ where they have the opportunity to find and match each of the target words (that include the speech sound you are working on). You can buy each of the speech sounds individually or the full package of sounds can be bought at a slightly discounted rate. This app is useful for:

  1. Working on articulation of sounds at the start, middle and end of words.
  2. Working on articulation of sounds in phrases.
  3. Articulation of sounds in longer paragraphs.

If you have any apps you would recommend please let us know!

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