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Published on August 9th, 2013


CASLPA Wired: Apps for Auditory-Verbal Therapy

By Kelley Rabjohn, B.Sc., M.Ed., Reg. CASLPO, LSLS Cert. AVTTM Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO)
This article has been republished from the Summer 2013 issue of Communiqué.
Please note that this article was originally published when Speech-Language and Audiology Canada (SAC) was called the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (CASLPA).

Auditory-verbal therapy (AVT) is the listening and spoken language communication development option for children who have hearing impairment. In AVT, the child, (fit with hearing aids or cochlear implants), and his/her parents attend therapy sessions that focus on coaching the parents as they learn the techniques that optimize the child’s listening potential. The goal is to help the child develop spoken language just like their typically hearing peers. Though most AVTs work with children from 0 – 6, some of us work with children up to 18 years of age.

Jill Bader’s “Top Ten Strategies For Parents” identifies 10 skills that parents need to develop as part of their auditory-verbal lifestyle. Some of these skills are: indicating that you hear a sound; being close and at the child’s level; joint focus; commenting using age/stage appropriate language; and repetition. Another crucial technique is listening precedes seeing. With these skills and techniques in mind, almost any good app can be used in an auditory-verbal manner. For beginning listeners, we recommend that the parents turn off the sound and do the talking for the app, then later, record their voices if that is an option, and even later, use the narrator’s voice.

The Peekaboo Barn app from Night & Day Studios is an excellent first app for very young children. There is a knocking sound while the barn “shakes” alerting the child to listen, then there’s an animal sound from behind the closed doors. After the screen is touched, the doors open and the child sees the animal and hears the sound again. Parents have the option to record their own voice. This app and others like it (Touch and Learn: Peekaboo Vehicles, Peekaboo Zoo, Peekaboo Ocean, Peekaboo Pet Shop) make it easy to adhere to the AVT techniques of listening before seeing, alerting to sound, association of “learning to listen” sound and repetition.

Another app for very young children is the ListenUpBear app from troll in a bowl apps. This app features a woman singing the familiar “The Bear Went Over the Mountain” song but in this case we discover what the bear would hear. The child hears an animal sound and is provided with a choice of four options. AVT techniques/skills: age/stage appropriate language, repetition, use of prosody (the song) and sound identification in a closed set. While ListenUpBear targets the sound identification skill for younger children, What’s That Sound? Learning to Listen and Identify Sounds by Different Roads to Learning, Inc., and the Touch the Sound app from Innovative Mobile apps target this same skill for slightly older children.

My Play Home is a terrific app for slightly older children with more advanced listening and language abilities. The app features a house with seven different rooms and five family members. In each room, the child can touch different items to see what happens. The app can be used in so many different ways but commenting and joint attention are the best ways to use it at first. Later it can be used to develop comprehension of sentences containing multiple critical elements. (“Mommy will put on the red dress and then look at herself in the mirror.”)

For older children or adults who read, the ABle app from Advanced Bionics provides practice of words in isolation, words at the end of a phrase, words in the middle of a phrase and two words in a phrase. For each section, there are nine levels of difficulty (words vary by number of syllables, single syllable words with different vowel/consonant variety, words with same initial consonant etc) and the option to listen in quiet or in noise. This app provides excellent focused practice of the listening hierarchy.

Another great resource is the Hope Words app from Cochlear Ltd. This free app has four elements: HOPE TIPS: Learning with Literacy; HOPE Bulletin: Vocabulary Development for Children with Cochlear Implants; HOPE Speech Sounds: A Guide for Parents and Professionals; and HOPE Speech Sounds: Vowels. These resources offer great information for professionals and parents working with children who have hearing loss regardless of the kind of hearing device used.

In conclusion, there are only a handful of apps that are specifically designed for practising listening and most of these apps have a specific focus. The good news is that almost any app that is a “good” app can be used to develop listening and language by applying appropriate auditory-verbal techniques while interacting with the child and the app.

Kelley Rabjohn

Kelley Rabjohn
B.Sc., M.Ed, Reg. CASLPO, LSLS, Cert. AVTTM
Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO)

About the author:

Kelley Rabjohn is a LSLS Certified AVTTM working at The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). Since acquiring her iPad one year ago, Kelley has become obsessed with helping parents use them well with their children.

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