I find it very rewarding and very enjoyable to work with children that have pragmatic language deficits. I also find it very challenging especially when working on conversational skills. Turn taking, implied conversational rules, initiating a topic, and topic maintenance can be super tricky for children with Autism or Asperger’s. I started using the Conversation Builder app by the Mobile Education Store last spring. The students loved it!
While the app teaches many skills, I found it particularly useful for teaching turn taking skills, teaching students to make appropriate comments for initiating a conversation, and teaching students to make appropriate comments that maintain the conversational topic. So…how does this app teach turn-taking skills? By using simple and direct questions to indicate the user’s turn in the conversation! For example, the app narrator says, “what would you say next?” or “how would you start this conversation?”. Students with pragmatic language deficits respond well to the simple, direct instructions. What about making appropriate comments to initiate or maintain a topic? This is such a difficult skill for many students, but this app gives choices and provides feedback when the student makes a choice. If the student chooses the correct comment, the app narrator provides positive feedback by saying, “that’s right”. If the student chooses a comment that is not as appropriate, the narrator says something like “that’s an unusual response” or “that’s an uncommon way to start this conversation.” Then, the student is prompted to select a different comment. I think this is a great way to make students consider the appropriateness of their comments.
There are lots of other features I love about this app, like the fact that there are many different settings. You can start with building a conversation with built in conversational partners, or you can use this app in group therapy and switch the setting to group exchanges which allows multiple players to participate in the conversation. I also like that the app displays a real, color photo for each conversation. This is nice for our visual learners and those that are more successful with more concrete topics. My favorite feature is probably the record/playback component. I LOVE that the students get to choose a comment, then record themselves saying the comment, and then they are able to playback just the recorded comment or the entire conversation including the conversational partner’s comments. I also think this component is useful when working on using the appropriate vocal inflection for statements, questions, etc. OH, and you can also save the completed conversations!
Want this app? Enter the giveaway below! Thanks again to Kyle Tomson, President and Founder of Mobile Education Store!