There are many apps available that address speech articulation, but Articulation Station by Little Bee Speech stands out among the rest.
This app has crisp, clean pictures and pleasing audio. You can practice all speech sounds in all word positions at the single word, sentence and paragraph level. Articulation Station also includes record and playback features, keeps statistics and lets you work with groups. There are matching games and a spinning wheel that kids enjoy, and in just a few minutes you can get in a whole lot of practice on the exact sounds you want to address, in the exact contexts you are looking to address them. You might even find the comprehension activities within this app valuable, completely independent of your students’ articulation needs.
The latest update of Articulation Station has now made this app even better than ever. In fact, I think with this update they have just blown away any competition they may have once had. You can now easily add your own images and you can save your student recordings. The programming is smart and intuitive and you will love how easy it is to create groups and target the sounds you want to address for each member within your group. When the session is done, you are asked if you want to save the data and/or recordings and are then taken to a beautifully designed set of screens that will let you access, print and email all of the relevant information about your work with your students.
If you are a school SLP working with a full caseload of elementary students, this app is one size fits all — the PRO version at $49.99 is worth every penny. If you are looking for something for home use, however, you will want the free version which lets you buy individual sounds a la carte. And if you are a school SLP with a tight budget and/or just a handful of students working on articulation, the free version plus /r/, /s/ and /l/ may hold you just fine until later.
There are certainly other articulation apps out there that are well put together and offer some of these same features. Used correctly they could all lead to great results. But this is the app I go to again and again because in addition to all the reasons mentioned above, it’s actually fun for kids. This app is the industry standard for iPad based articulation treatment, and deserving of every award it’s received.
For a little extra fun and to get your kids really talking, download Smacktalk! by Marcus Satellite. This app is one of those general use entertainment apps that just happens to be a great motor speech encourager. Kids speak and the cute little critter (guinea pig, puppy, kitten, chihuahua) repeats what they say in an adorable high pitch squeaky voice. Must be experienced to be appreciated. Kids love this one. 99 cents.
There is one more app that has to be mentioned here because in very select cases, it could be exactly what your child needs to make the leap into true motor speech. That’s Vast Autism 1 – Core by SpeakinMotion. For one of our children in particular, the response to the video modeling in this rather “up close and personal” oral motor speech app was truly magical. So much research suggests that children with autism focus on the speaker’s mouth, not the eyes. The makers of this app clearly know that, and have delivered exactly the right visual to grab the attention of a child who is just starting to plan out the motor steps to producing meaningful words. Sounds, words, phrases and sentences are spoken and the child sees only the speaker’s mouth. Before the iPad 2 came along (and before this app added the built in mirror feature), we used this while holding an actual mirror up for the child, and the results were amazing. For one student in particular, (who now speaks in sentences) there is no way to assign a dollar value to this app. Find it in itunes for $3.99.
Other apps have since been released by this same company, and again I am astounded at my students’ response to it. Their Pre-Speech and Oral Motor app contains all of the exercises you’ve encouraged your students to use over the years. With the help of this particular app, however, you will now have the undivided attention of your students with autism. Maybe it’s the fact that you see only the child’s mouth and there are no distracting eyes or other visual stimuli. Maybe it’s the fact that the mouth performing the exercise is on the all magical iPad screen. I think it’s a little of both, but I can’t say enough for the draw it has for my students and how much effort they will put into imitating these exercises when they are delivered in this format. $12.99