app advice for speech-language pathologists, educators and parents

Conversation Builder Teen Review from Novemer, 2012

FINALLY… a social skills app designed exactly for teenagers. If you love Conversation Builder but wish you had something for kids in middle school and up, then here comes some good news. Just like the original Conversation Builder, Conversation Builder Teen puts kids right into the conversation. A scenario is presented, the student chooses an appropriate response, and the response is recorded. A built in peer response is waiting and when you play the whole conversation back, you get to hear your student in a completely appropriate back and forth conversation. More importantly, your student gets to hear himself in that completely appropriate back and forth conversation.

There is no way to put a value on an app that helps a teenager with delayed social skills know what to say when someone is teasing them or when someone is being sarcastic with them… This app will coach your teenager through dozens of upbeat conversations about clothes, sports, summer jobs and more. But it will also tackle the tougher issues that can come up about relationships, smoking and bullying. You will have say over which conversations are played so your 11 year old is not having to field questions about things that she really doesn’t need to deal with until high school.

If a student picks the wrong response, he or she is gently guided to the correct one with feedback that helps him see the situation from a different perspective. And the feedback is very specific to the response that was chosen. Listen to the tone of the girl’s voice. She is being sarcastic with you. Don’t take what she says literally.

My single favorite feature of this app is that you can hear the intonation of real teenagers saying each of the responses before you choose one. And you get another chance to hear how the correct response should sound before you record it. So much meaning is in the subtlety of the intonation, and this app will help you teach that to your students. There is also an info button that lets you preview (or review) what the conversation is about, and there is a history button to give you a speech bubble style play-by-play of who said what. This app also includes the pass and play setting you find in the regular version, and the ability to import your own pictures to make up your own conversations.

Even if you don’t agree with every response deemed to be the correct one, this app will be an invaluable resource for teaching your student or child how to respond in a host of situations that, like it or not, are coming around the bend. If you or your teenager think you might want to handle a situation in a different way, you can talk about what you would say instead, and just record that response.

This app comes loaded with over 300 conversations across 8 different topics. Some are positive and friendly, and others are unkind or uncomfortable. We all know our kids on the spectrum need help with all of the above.

Once again, I need to disclose my connection to Mobile Education Store, because my role with this company does make me less than objective. But as an every day, long-time user of Conversation Builder, I can honestly say there is nothing else like this out there. Only Conversation Builder, and now Conversation Builder Teen, can simulate that experience of a true give and take conversation for a child. The social learning value of these apps is through the roof.

This app for teenagers is an important one. It’s written by a Dad who understands that parents want to arm their children with the skills they need to hold their own in a conversation. Even if that conversation is less than positive.

If there is a teenager on the spectrum in your life, take a good close look at this one. It’s the kind of app that reminds us (as parents and as educators) how lucky we are that iPads came along at all. $29.99.