Thursday, March 22, 2012

Writing TherAppy

Thank you to S-LP Kimberly Freed for her submission of this review.

App Name/Publisher: Writing TherAppy by Tactus Therapy Solutions

Description: This app allows the user to work on writing and spelling at the single word level in a variety of interactive contexts.  Writing can be practiced by filling in the blanks, copying, labeling a picture, or writing to dictation.

 Therapy Use:
When recently using this app with a 70-year old female patient she exclaimed “I really like this!” with a big smile across her face. After working on so many take home spelling worksheets, she found the interactive and colourful program a nice change.

I find myself using each of the components of this app in slightly different ways. The Copy feature is great for low level spellers and users who would benefit from a confidence boost. With the picture and word spelled out for them, they can get familiarized with the task and focus on scanning the letters and checking their work. Similarly, the Fill in the Blank feature provides the extra bit of scaffolding some users need for both their spelling and their confidence.  I have noticed with several users that before they pick the check button, they are able to self-monitor and often correct their spelling. The drag option allows the client to shuffle the letters around until they feel it looks right and then they can get confirmation by hitting check.

For any patients who own iPhones or iPads this app can be used for home practice because it provides hints and corrective feedback. I had one patient use this app at home in conjunction with her therapy in the clinic so that all of her goals could be targeted regularly within the restraints of therapy time.

App Benefits/Likes:
·      For pt’s with decreased pen/pencil grip tolerance, the option to use a touch screen is a nice alternative
·      Visual appeal- bright colourful pictures, but not too busy
·      I love that this app has the check button. This allows users to monitor their own progress but still receive corrective feedback.
·      The hint button offers a nice step down on all of the actives either by decreasing the blanks to be filled in or the number of letter choices offered.
·      When an error is made, only the incorrect letters are removed, so that the client can see the letters they have correctly selected and try to fix those that are incorrect.
·      After correctly writing a word, the program reads the word out loud

Cautions: A fair degree of fine motor control is required for users to drag and drop letters from the letter selection into the blanks. I have had several patients who have struggled with this due to both a lack of familiarity with touch screens and reduced fine motor control. That said, the settings do allow for an alternative Tap option that reduces some of the fine motor control demands. (Unless of course you’re teaming up with the OT to work on that!)

In the future I’d like to see an option for larger letter buttons and possibly some sentence level writing.      

App Summary

Skill(s) Targeted
Expressive Language
Writing to Dictation
Written Naming

Age/Grade Levels Targeted
(Has a child-friendly mode for using with kids)

How to Activate
2 settings on how to move letters: drag or tap

Type of Device
iOS Universal for iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad


Would you recommend this app?
Yes, it’s great for use both in the clinic and for users who have access to the technology at home.


Reviewed by:
Kimberly Freed, M.Sc., SLP(C)

Review Date:
March 15, 2012


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