SLPeeps, I have been a terrible SLPBlogger the past few months, and I apologize. Graduate school is finally over (!), and end-of-degree busyness is no longer a priority! I’m on vacation this week, so I’m all yours. And what better time to start back up than Better Hearing and Speech Month?! So, what new apps have I been using the past month or two? Well, working with adults since January, I of course have been using my Tactus Therapy apps like crazy (read my thoughts on this one and this one). In addition, however, I have started using a new AAC evaluation app. I bought it a little while back but only recently have had a frequent use for it. Without further ado…
What It Is: An informal diagnostic tool for determining the AAC-related skills of an individual by Hump Software.
How It Works: When you open the app, enter the individual’s name into the top left corner. Then decide which of fourteen skills you want to directly assess. Press the runner icon in the top right to begin (keep pressing this “go” button as needed throughout the evaluation). Throughout the assessment, pressing the magnifying glass will allow you to view the data collected so far.
Once you start the assessment, a title page of sorts will appear for each section. This will tell you what is being assessed, how challenging the section becomes (e.g. “Visual Identification” starts by assessing 5″ icons and moves to 1″), how many items are in that section, etc. Then the subtests begin! The evaluation gets progressively more difficult within and across subtests. You can find a complete list of the fourteen subtests along with a brief description on iTunes. Once you’re finished with as many subtests as you need, a report is generated with data from each of the sections. The data is broken down fairly specifically. For example, “Visual Identification” reports data for each field size, and “Picture Description” shows what the individual should have said compared to what they actually said.
Therapy Applications: The app can be used to evaluate AAC skills with a variety of ages and populations. I mostly used this app with adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities, although I did use it with a couple clients with traumatic brain injury, too. Even though I only used it with adults, the app appears to have been intended to be used with children.
Pros: 1. Price. This is very affordable for all it offers.
2. The client cannot see the data while they are answering (e.g. there is not “2 out of 3″ at the top), which reduced anxiety for many people with whom I worked.
3. When re-entering the app, it asks if you would like to continue the previous session, which allows you to start where you ended without losing any data, as long as you are not using it with other clients in between.
4. The app uses a variety of symbols (e.g. real photos vs hand-drawn pictures vs written text), which makes it easy to gauge to which type of symbol the individual responds best.
5. So often AAC evaluation only focuses on object vocabulary. It is great that this evaluation tool heavily involves other parts of language (verbs, descriptors, etc) as well as forming and comprehending language.
Cons: 1. The app would be even better if it had a better way to save data. While the data can be printed or emailed after the session, it cannot be stored within the app at all.
2. In the first two activities, there is a very childish “pop” sound/image when the correct tile is selected. Other than this, the app is quite age-appropriate for adults, but it would be nice if this could be removed or replaced with reinforcement that is more appropriate for all ages.
3. The touch recognition is delayed during some of the activities, which can get frustrating for some clients with impulsivity/attention difficulties.
4. It is not possible to skip items within a section. While this is likely for consistent data collection, it would be nice to skip some of the easier items in the beginning for more advanced AAC users, or it would be good to skip to the end of a section once a client has “ceilinged out.”
The Take-Away: While I have a couple suggestions for improvement, I have greatly enjoyed using this app the past few months. I love how the activities range from incredibly basic to highly involved and more functional. The app has done an excellent job assessing the various aspects of AAC use. This is a great instrument to have in your AAC evaluation tool bag.
My Questions for You: How do you assess new AAC users? Could this be part of your assessment protocol?