Archive for May, 2012

Conversation Coach

Conversation Coach by Silver Lining Multimedia, Inc  teaches the user to understand the natural back and forth flow of conversations. Most communication devices typically only allow for one-way conversations, Conversation Coach fixes that.  Conversation Coach comes in a full version for $79.99 and a limited use lite version for $1.99.

Conversation Coach is set up up into three distinct areas:

Talk to a Friend

Make a Statement

Talk to the Computer

Throughout these three user areas the main objectives targeted will be:

Learning to Take Turns

Staying on Topic

Asking Questions

Listening To The Other Player

Expressing Thoughts and Feelings

Organizing Thoughts

Talk to A Friend

This mode is similar to Mobile Education Store’s Conversation builder.  What’s different is you are able to choose from preloaded conversations or create your own.  You can load your own pictures or choose from the picture library that comes with the app.  To “talk to a friend” you will most likely sit across from one another and with the iPad positioned in between.  The app is oriented so players on both side of the device are able to read the messages.  Here is an example of a simple conversation:

“What do you want to do?”

A coaching theme is used to ‘coach’ the conversation. A player selects the appropriate response and then passes the ball to the other player. A quiet symbol, a charter making the ‘shh’, sign prompts the other player to stay quiet while it’s not their turn to talk. These prompts can be turned off in the settings once the players understand the rules or simply do not need prompting any longer.  You can choose what the  background looks like as well as you will see later on in the post.

Conversations can be customized for each student’s needs. You can also select which conversations are available for a particular student.

Here is the main Conversation Topics Menu

This is an example of how you would edit the flow of the conversation.

Talk to the Computer

This mode allows a player to practice 2 way conversations against the computer.  This mode works pretty much the same  as Talking to  Friend does but the computer randomly selects questions to ask, then the player is presented with appropriate response choices. You can also choose the ‘conversation’ for your student/client. This mode is nice for teaching children with autism to script appropriate conversations. You can also use this mode for quizzes. Here is an example of a quiz.

Make a Statement

This mode is similar to using a communication device. Players are able make requests and comments. Statements can be any combination of text and pictures. Submenus can be programmed to appear after a player makes a selection. In this section you have a lot of variety you can choose from. You are able to use it somewhat like a traditional AAC device using category based menus, you can use it to make visual schedules, and participate in scripted conversations with your conversation partner or “coach”!  Here are some examples :

Initial Topics Menu

Preload Basic 2-way convo

Initial screen on basic 2-way conversation

Simple choice board option

Options to make visual schedules

If your work as a speech language pathologist involves children, you most likely spend at least 48 to 52 hours a year with each client and their family, depending on the setting where you work – school, clinic or in the home. Most families I work with have had their children in therapies for years and they know the drill and the questions to ask. But what about those families who are new to having their child in speech therapy, or parents experiencing therapy burnout? Here are five quick tips to help educate your families with children in speech therapy:

Get personal.

You spend time on building a case history for your client, but how often does a client inquire about you as a person or professional? Give them some details! Invite them into your world and hopefully they will do the same. Too often, I think parents feel they are on some sort of therapy assembly line. Help break this pattern for them!

Show your credentials.

Help educate families about your education. Some parents have drilled me on my experience and education before therapy begins. Others don’t ask a thing and blindly walk into the session because their doctor prescribed therapy. Don’t read off your college transcripts here, but help the family better understand what you are trained to do and why they and their child are there.

Explain educational differences.

Help educate caregivers on the differences between who could potentially be working with their child- speech language pathologist assistant (SLPA) versus an SLP. I have had parents who only want to have their child to work with “the SLP,” which is a valid request, as most times they are paying good money for therapy. So give them a quick breakdown on the main differences between the two.  The main one being the schooling for an SLPA, which can be an associate degree or a bachelor’s, compared with the SLP’s master’s degree. The second difference is what an SLPA can and cannot do, which may be news to parents. SLPA’s can perform screens, provide therapy following a written plan by an SLP, help document and schedule. SLPA’s cannot give tests or interpret results, write or change a treatment plan, counsel clients/families, provide treatment without access to a supervisor or work with dysphagia.

Let parents know you are a team!

Whether your job is writing an  individualized education plan (IEP), an individualized family service plan (IFSP) or just developing a treatment plan, let them know they are part of the team! Their input is greatly needed and appreciated and parents should be invloved in helping to tailor their child’s goals.

Expect participation.

SLPs do not possess a Magic Therapy Wand that will fix and cure all delays and impairments. We are certainly not glorified babysitters. Parents or caregivers should expect to actively participate in the child’s therapy session! We certainly cannot magically fix our clients, but we do offer our expert knowledge and training – that when paired with a parent’s hard work outside of therapy can come mighty close to a magic wand.

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