Smarty Ears Expressive App Review

I once read an AAC article that stated “Communication is the essence of life.” How cool is that? That us lucky SLPs get to work on something each and every day that could be considered “the essence of life”.

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Because of this, I feel like I have very high, sometimes possibly unrealistic expectations for AAC devices & apps. Smarty Ears was kind enough to let me check out Expressive, an AAC app. It uses Smarty Symbols library. According to the app’s description in the App Store, “This is an entry to mid-level, easy to use, and powerful app that allows children and adults with speech impairment or communication difficulties to express their wants and needs through the use of pictures and symbols. Expressive was designed to meet the needs of a wide range of users. Children can use this application to communicate by tapping buttons with symbols or pictures that generate sound. Expressive includes over 10,000 built-in images from the Smarty Symbols library.”

When I read that, I immediately wanted to compare the stats with the AAC app I am most familiar with: Proloquo2Go. I know, I know. The comparisons aren’t really fair considering Proloquo2Go costs $219.99 and Expressive costs $26.99. Regardless, I think the comparison is still important. Proloquo2Go offers 14,000 included symbols using SymbolStix.

So overall, what do I like about Expressive?

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Symbols: Personally, I like the symbols included in both Proloquo2Go and Expressive equally. It’s easy to upload your own pictures in Expressive, which is very useful! The symbols are as salient as possible! See the picture above for a search for “girl”. There were 3-ish more rows below the ones shown with different options. I searched for different symbols for a while trying to find weaknesses and honestly couldn’t find any. I couldn’t find anything that I Proloquo2Go has that Expressive doesn’t as far as symbol selection so that is great. (actually I couldn’t find some football team icons but that could be easily added via uploaded pictures!) One quick critique: sometimes when searching for specific verbs, the options for gender & race of the people in the symbols are very  minimal. You will probably have an AAC system where the majority of the symbols are white and male. I don’t want to discount Expressive for this though, because many AAC systems have this problem! (see the second picture above for ‘About Me’)

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Customization: Expressive can be easily customized, including adding folders, images, and buttons. Each can be customized with any text, pictures, and color coding system if desired. It’s all very easy to figure out and very intuitive! The buttons can also be rearranged easily.

Price: AAC devices and apps can be ridiculously expensive! Expressive is at a fantastic price point which makes it good for an entry-level AAC app. I’ve also heard of SLPs starting with Expressive as a trial system. I can’t imagine an AAC app could ever be priced better actually! :)

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Layout: The layout of the app kind of fits in with customization, but Expressive is incredibly intuitive. The layout is visually appealing and it just ‘makes sense’. It also looks great in both landscape and portrait mode.

What is missing?

A keyboard option: I think keyboards are critical for some AAC users. If I had an AAC client that was considering a system, I might not choose this one because of a lack of keyboard option (if the client could use/grow to use a keyboard).

Great voice quality: I am personally not a huge fan of the voices Expressive comes with. I tested this by creating sentences, and having the system speak the whole sentence to a friend of mine in the room. She was unable to identify what I was trying to say in about 25% of the trials. But, if most of the listeners to the student can see the screen, they could always just read the buttons themselves. Voices on ANY system are slightly questionable in my opinion, and Expressive is no different.

Multiple boards: While this may not matter a whole lot, particularly to AAC users who own their iPad, as an SLP I would love to see an option to make many boards and switch between them for different clients!

Overall, it is worth the price? ABSOLUTELY YES. Expressive is definitely worth investing in!! I think it could help a huge population of AAC users. Check out in the App Store here.

Have you used it? I would LOVE to hear your opinions!!

Memory and Orientation Books

As many of you know, my externship this semester is with adults. Since my week one update, I’ve grown to really enjoy my patients.

So so so many of my patients have dementia. I’ve been hearing a lot about making memory & orientation books, but had difficulty finding templates, ideas, and examples online. So of course, I made my own! You can see it here. Hopefully this helps inspire some of you who work with adults.

Note: Read to the bottom of this post for links to some other websites about memory/orientation book and other AAC strategies for persons with dementia.

How To Make A Memory And/Or Orientation Book:

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1) Start with your materials. I collect white cardstock, colored cardstock, some patterned scrapbook paper, thin binders, a hole punch, glue sticks, and the pictures you want to use.

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2) Print the pages of my binder that you want to include (or make your own!).

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3) If you decided to use the label pages, cut out the labels.

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4)  Make a big mess and drink some tea. (not necessary but trying to give you the whole process… ;) ) And back your pictures and labels with colored cardstock to make the book extra colorful and pretty!

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5) Assemble! The pictures above are two examples of orientation pages using the labels.

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And the two pages above are examples of a memory book I might make for myself! I do think I need one some days…

 Again, this is just how I made my book. Feel free to get creative and make it with your style! Below are some additional pictures of my product that I didn’t show above:

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My product includes three sections:

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1) Memory Book Template: This entire section is in black and white for easy printing for each resident! Places for pictures are marked and labeled. See example pages with cursive writing above for examples!

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2) Orientation Book Template: The same structure as the memory book section (all black and white) except for it is orientation based. There is a weekly and monthly schedule included as well. See example pages with print (not cursive) above for examples. Additionally, a label page is included as shown in the example pictures at the beginning of this post.

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3) Safety Signs: See the product pictures in the middle of this post for one example (with the stop sign).

As of now, it is 66 pages long. BUT CATCH THIS. For the first couple months I have this product up, I will add pages that YOU need! Just purchase the pr0duct and if a page is missing, let me know and I’ll update the product for you and everybody else containing that page!

Check the product out in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store here.

As always, thanks for reading and email me at speechymusings@gmail.com if you have ANY questions!

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More Resources for Memory/Orientation Books: 

Creating Memory Books and Activity Kits

Therapeutic Interventions with Individuals with Dementia

AAC Strategies for Persons with Dementia (from ASHA)

S…peachy Feedback: September Winner

Feedback means THE WORLD to me. I not only read every feedback left on my products, but I respond to them. I take the time to do this because I want you all to understand how much EACH and EVERY kind comment means to me.

To celebrate amazing feedback even more, Allison has put together a monthly linky party where each participating blogger chooses one person who left extraordinary feedback that month. This person wins a free product! So, leave great feedback, get entered to win free products!

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If you are liz2886 and you left this AMAZING feedback on my Common Core Reference Binder for SLPs, please email me at speechymusings@gmail.com and let me know any free product you’d like from my store!

Wanna see what the hype is all about? Feel free to check out my Common Core Reference Binder here or my store here for other fun speech products!

Thanks for reading and keep leaving wonderful feedback!! It makes getting through graduate school a little easier ;)

PS: I found out today that I made the top 100 sellers on ALL OF TEACHERS PAY TEACHERS for the second week in a row. Amazing to say the least! I started this blogging thing only 9 months ago so that is seriously insane. It’s all cause of you guys so THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. You all rock :)

2,000 Likes Celebration: Day 4

Welcome to Day 4 of my 2,000 likes giveaways! Today is unfortunately the last day of amazing celebration but it’s a big one! If you haven’t, definitely check out the three other giveaways because there are some amazing products in there!

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This giveaway includes SIX wonderful products from some wonderful seller friends of mine! Below I’ve listed all six products:

1) Building Vocabulary from Speechie K

2) A Pirate Themed Articulation Unit from Simply Speech

3) Apple Pickin’ Parts of Speech from The Dabbling Speechie

4) What Doesn’t Belong Game from Mrs. T SLP

5) United States Listening Comprehension from Major Speech Pathology Fun By A Minor Girl

Enter below for your shot:

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2,000 Likes Giveaways: Day 3

Welcome to Day 3 of my 2,000 likes giveaways!

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The products in the giveaway are all INCREDIBLE. And there is four of them!! The first is an Evidence Based Practice Quick Reference Binder from Home Sweet Speech Room and the second is a WH Question Packet with Visuals from Teach Speech 365.  The third product is the Social Butterfly packet from Nicole Allison and last but not least is Practice on the Playground from Speak Listen Play. Check out and enter the amazing giveaway below:

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2,000 Likes Giveaway: Day 2

Welcome to Day 2 of my 2,000 likes giveaways! If you missed the first one, click here cause you don’t wanna miss your chance at these awesome products!

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If you like yesterday, then you’ll definitely like today! You could win Common Core RtI Assessments for K-2 from Busy Bee Speech, License Plate Listening Comprehension from The Speech Bubble, AND one free product from my store. Check out and enter the amazing giveaways below:

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2,000 Likes Giveaway: Day 1

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First off, I should start by thanking all of you wonderful people who have supported me since I began this crazy blogging thing back in December. Let’s fast forward 9 months and BAM!… I’ve got an incredible 2,000 Facebook likes! Wow! This week should be fun, and is filled with giveaways on giveaways so if you aren’t one of those incredible 2,000 people, like me on Facebook pronto to stay up to date with all of the awesomeness happening in the next few days! (click the icons below to like me on Facebook, and to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest)

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I won’t make you wait any longer! Below is the first giveaway. It is for Pronoun Power from Let’s Talk Speech Therapy and I Can Statement Posters from Natalie Snyders. I’ll also be including ANY product from my store

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Articulate It! – A Smarty Ears App Review

In my opinion, Smarty Ears has one of the best reputations for creating seamless, great looking, and functional apps for speech-language pathologists. Articulate It! is no exception. I was so impressed with this app!

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If you are unfamiliar with Smarty Ears apps, you should know that they hook up with a free app called the Therapy Report Center.

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In the Therapy Report Center, you can add your caseload, their goals, their age, and more.

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From there, you can import/export seamlessly between the Therapy Report Center and Smarty Ears Apps.

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For example, after a session using Articulate It!, you can upload the data to the Therapy Report Center. Then, if you use a different Smarty Ears App next time, you can compare progress between apps.

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You can also print off progress reports from the Therapy Report Center as well. It’s an amazing idea from Smarty Ears and helps me stay organized so much!

Okay now for describing Articulate It! As I stated before, it’s a wonderful app. It’s not only great looking, but it’s intuitive, functional, and takes great data. From there, you can select students, and choose to play either flashcards or matching. Note: If you don’t want to select a student, you can choose Quick Play from the home screen.

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After you select either flashcards or matching, you can designate the sounds/patterns you want to work on with each student you’ve selected. See some of the MANY amazing choices below:

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 As you can see, there are so many options. I can’t imagine an articulation client that this application wouldn’t have thought of! You can also customize each word list AND add custom words!

Below is an example of what you might see if you wanted to do matching:

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One different thing about this app is that is shows you a card (ex: shoelace in the pictures above) and the student has to search for the one match. Each student keeps guessing until they find shoelace. Then the next student’s board pops up containing their sounds.

Below is an example of what you might see if you choose flashcards:

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There are many ways you can change around the settings as well:

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And you can leave notes as needed.

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You can change the picture from word level, phrase level, and sentence level AND take data separately on each!

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And that brings us full circle to the data section of the app. See some example of this section below:

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I absolutely love how the data is presented! It’s color coded, so easy to read, and broken up into well-organized categories. From this section, you can export the data to the Therapy Report Center as I mentioned at the beginning of this post.

Overall: I have absolutely nothing bad to say about this app! It works as described, looks great, and provides so much useful data & information. If you are looking for an articulation app, please seriously consider Articulate It!

Disclaimer: I received this product at no cost in exchange for my review. All of the thoughts and opinions expressed are mine.

The First Week at my Externship – Seven Lessons Learned

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As you may know, I am currently beginning the second year of graduate school. In my program, we have clients through our university’s clinic for the first year. Then, we get assigned to an adult & child externship (one each semester in the second year). This past week, I started my first externship…. with adults.

I am a kid person, through and through. I love difficult kids, easy kids, funny kids, serious kids. I love language kids, artic kids, kids with autism, fluency kids. I love them all.

To be fair, before this externship, I had only had one adult client before, in our university’s clinic. He was awesome and turned into my Virginia grandpa. He made me laugh and he made significant progress throughout our semester together.

So the night before I had to begin my externship, I was semi-optimistic. I had been assigned to a very nice facility where I would get experience in rehab, skilled nursing, assisted living, and memory care – all at one site!

To sum it up quickly, the first day was rough. I was shown around the facility for most of the day. Honestly, for me, walking around the facility on the first day was the worst moment thus far. We spent much of the day in the memory care unit: constant alarms, people crying, people trying to escape, people looking for their deceased loved ones, the smells, the sights… It was almost too much.

But, the next day came and went. When I left, I thought to myself, “I think I could do this for a job”.

The third day came and went. When I left, I thought, “Ugh. Growing up sucks.”

And then the fourth day came and went. I thought, “Is it weird that I actually kind of enjoyed today?!”

So overall, I’m learning a lot (read my lessons below). I have some clients that make me depressed. I have some clients that are hilarious. I have clients that I want to adopt as grandparents. Next week, I plan to help a 94 year old woman make a Facebook to keep up with her grandchildren. Does it get any more awesome than that!?

Surprisingly, I like the adult setting more than I thought I would. There are still moments every day that I just want to leave or take 10 minutes to myself, but I guess that is to be expected!

After week one, here is what I have gathered:

1) When you ask your classmates how their externship is going, you will either get, “I love it!” or “I’m learning a lot.”, the latter of which is not a good thing.

2) Scrubs are a wonderful thing.

3) The university’s clinic is NOT REAL LIFE. In real life, you have difficult coworkers, limited supplies, no lunch break, and no privacy (aka you might share a small room with PT & OT).

4) Not every setting or placement will be a perfect fit for you.

5) A good attitude and a good work ethic will get you a long way.

6) Connecting with your clients, whether they will forget you in an hour, is one of the most important aspects of the job. That doesn’t change for ANY setting.

7) And last, dementia makes me sad.

What do you remember from your externships? 

Three Apps by Dynavox Mayer-Johson – Reviews + GIVEAWAYS

A couple weeks ago, a rep from Dynavox Mayer-Johnson contacted me about checking out a couple of their apps. The company recently rereleased all of their PCS and wanted me to check them out! Because Dynavox Mayer-Johnson rocks, they’ve also given me 6 codes (2 for each app) to give away to Speechy Musings’ readers! Check out what I thought about each app below and enter to win! The giveaways do not last long, so enter now!! (I’ll giveaway 4 apps here and 2 in some fun contests on my Facebook page so stay tuned!)

1) Say it Right™ – Articulation Flip Books App

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This app has earned a place  in my top list of articulation apps! It is super engaging and colorful, it includes a ton of sounds, is very reasonably priced ($9.99), and it can be fun while practicing artic sounds! I haven’t gotten the chance to use it with any clients, but I can imagine they’d love it. I’ve used the actual book versions of these and they were a hit. I can’t imagine the app being any less engaging! Below are some screenshots of the app in action:

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Using this app is simple. Just drag your finger up on any one of the three ‘pages’ to switch the page. You can either keep together the three corresponding pages to make stories that make more sense, or mix and match to create silly stories!

When I first opened the app, I was so impressed by how many sounds were targeted. The following sounds are included: ar, ear, er, or, recurrent r, ire, prevocalic r, r blends, s, z, sh, ch, k, g, th, f, v, p, b, t, d, m, n, s, r, l blends, w, h, and l. PHEW! Isn’t that an amazing deal for only $9.99?!

Obviously, the app was created with articulation in mind. But, like all great apps, it can be easily adapted into an app to work on prepositions, syntax, vocabulary, expressive language, and probably much much more. You can discuss what tense the middle page is in, pull out the preposition off of the last page, and discuss the parts of speech and find them! This is why I would recommend this app for all SLPs who work with mixed groups.

Check out the website here to see everything! Enter the Rafflecopter below to win a copy!

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2) PCS™ Word Scramble App

The next app I checked out targets spelling and vocabulary (primarily).

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I’ll be honest with you, when I first opened up the app and played around with it, I did like that every time I pushed something, it was labeled and I didn’t like the lag time between cards. But, once I realized that Dynavox Mayer-Johnson is great and has every setting option I wanted, I really started to love this app! Below you can see how customizable this app is:

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You can have text labels, speech labels, rewards after a certain number of cards, and much more if desired!

Below are some screenshots of the app in action:

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Basically, it’s a spelling app. You can choose the length of word you want targeted. The app shuffles the letters and you have to put them back in the correct order. PCS pictures are used, which I like because it makes the transition between therapy activities and communication easier for those who use PCS for their AAC system! You can choose from many, many options for length of word (from 3-8 letters):

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After you choose a word length, you can press “Sort” in the bottom left corner if you want to get rid of certain cards from the stack. I love how customizable this app is!

Check out the app on their website here and enter the Rafflecopter below to win 1 of 2 copies!

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3) PCS™ Flash Cards App

  The last wonderful app I received from Dynavox Mayer-Johnson was the PCS Flash Cards App. First, I need to mention that this app would be incredible for a person who is learning to use an AAC system that uses PCS pictures. It can familiarize/teach the icons before the pressure of communicating with them exists! Great! See some screenshots below.

You can target rhyming with this app:

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You can even pick which rhyme to target (as shown above). I like how the rhyme part of the word is shown in blue. See an example of two flashcard screenshots below:

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You can also target language with this app:

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There are articulation flashcards included, with a huge variety of sounds/cards, all in PCS.

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When you click on a sound, you can edit the cards that will be targeted if desired:

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And then the flashcards begin. Again, the target sound is in blue.

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 Last but not least, vocabulary can be targeted. Some of the included categories are below:

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I really like this section because it can help with the cognitive organization of an AAC system as well! You can have the text label included or not included.

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And once again, you can control exactly what cards are included in each deck:

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 So there you have it! Aren’t these apps awesome! I hope to come back and update this post once I’ve used them with clients. I can’t wait to do that!

Check out the PCS Flash Cards app on their website here and enter the Rafflecopter below to win a copy.

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