May 21

“Using apps in treatment is a win-win. The client engages with an exciting device, and the clinician is able to model and elicit the targeted skills more easily.” -Sean Sweeney, SLP

Apps: (plural noun) /ae ps’/ : software applications that have brainwashed society into believing in their necessity for human survival, without which mankind will cease to exist in the form of a rapture (alternative spelling rappture), taking place today. Any minute now.

Reading through my most recent ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) newsletter today, I found that my current speech therapy practice of engaging directly with clients using archaic forms of communication such as conversation and eye contact is obsolete, replaced by a much more effective conversational partner known as the mobile app, which is “the future of the profession and some clinicians are already there” (Jeremy Legaspi, pediatric speech-language pathologist).

According to the article, apps can be used as contextual tools to enhance clients’ engagement in therapy and willingness to practice at home to improve transfer of targeted skills to other environments. “For a majority of my clients, the iPad is the first thing they ask for in treatment,” says Legaspi.

And what can the iPad do that other therapy tools can’t? According to Jessica Gosnell, an SLP at Children’s Hospital Boston, there is a “whiteboard” mobile app on which she writes and lists the therapy session’s activities. The client uses the whiteboard app to check off each listed activity that is completed.

Seen at Portland Antiques Shop, this rare artifact is from 2011. Teachers and students wrote on it before the r-app-ture.

This is fantastic, because there is no such thing as a “whiteboard” app in the real world. There is, however, a real whiteboard, on which low-tech SLPs such as myself can write the session’s activities, and another invention called the eraser, that can be used by clients to erase each listed activity that is completed.

The truth is, I can acknowledge the relevance of mobile apps in certain settings. As the article notes, SLPs who travel from setting to setting lugging a suitcase loaded with therapy tools could benefit from the number of resources (books, articulation therapy cards, board games) that could be incorporated into a single device for quick and easy access.

But there are many potential downfalls as well. The article points out that the true purpose of the therapy session —- which is to enhance communicative success whether it be in the area of articulation of speech sounds, fluency, voice, or social communication —- could become peripheral to to using the mobile apps*. Being expected to adapt treatment to a mobile device brought in by a client is another concern noted in this article. And in a career field intended to improve our use of speech and language for human interaction, I remain wary of replacing the rich communicative opportunities of the speech-language therapy environment with a device that could depersonalize that connection.

–Troi out

*This caution as it relates to using mobile apps is not to be confused with the field of AAC—-augmentative and alternative communication—-which is a vital need for those clients who are nonverbal or produce limited verbal output and require the use of a communication device. For these clients a highly-trained professional matches them with an AAC device, and learning to communicate using this device should be a primary focus of treatment.

May 15

This is an actual photograph of the tree that fell on Troi

Dear Loyal Readers,

I am writing now to quiet fears of my disappearance. There have been whispers of my bloglessness around these parts, causing a generalized unrest amongst Portlanders. Nobody seems to know what’s going on in this city, because I haven’t blogged about it. In fact, one might argue, if I haven’t blogged about it, did it actually happen? And much like the popular philosophical riddle, “If a tree falls on Troi in the woods, and nobody sees her get pinned under it, did the tree actually fall, and what was Troi doing in the woods in this rainy weather?” the answer, of course, is that it doesn’t really matter, as long as Troi was wearing rain boots and can wriggle out from under tight spaces.

During my absence, I have received many an empassioned inquiry regarding my whereabouts. Here are just a few comments made by my dearest fans:

“The internet has been so peaceful without your constant, unsolicited perspective.”

–Anonymous Reader obviously not thinking clearly due to severe Trekkychick withdrawal symptoms

“Are you dating somebody? Come on, don’t try to hide it. The only time you stop blogging is when you’re dating somebody.”

–Church Brian

“Honey, where have you been? Will you call me?”

–My Mother

Nothing less than absolute candor is required in responding to your questions, and therefore allow me without further delay to tell you that I was under a tree in the woods for the past several months and, owing to the fact that I had no bars in the forest (not even the Laurelwood), I lacked the reception to notify you, my loyal readers, of my whereabouts.*

*For those coworkers who sense deceit in this explanation —- having seen me at work every day —- I ask that you be discreet in your observations of prevarication as I have a reputation of honesty to maintain amongst my community of readers.

I assure you that in the future I will not allow my personal life to eclipse my duties as a blogger and will be providing you with material of the high caliber you’ve come to expect from …. other bloggers. 🙂

–Troi out