Monday, December 17, 2012

Category TherAppy

Thank you to Aubrey Klingensmith of Speechie Apps for allowing us to repost this app review. Be sure to check out her blog for other great reviews.

App: Category TherAppy

What It Is: An app for addressing various categorization skills by Tactus Therapy.

Price: $14.99
OS: Apple

Version: 1.0

How It Works: The app has four main parts: find, classify, exclude, and add one. Each of these can be used at three difficulty levels (ranging from concrete to abstract). The therapist can change the number of trials (10, 25, 50, or “all”), target type (word, pictures, or both), and field size. In addition, both child mode and audio reinforcement can be turned on/off. You can select which exact categories you would like or choose them all.

Find–pick out the item that fits in the appropriate category. (E.g. Prompt: “Find the big thing.” Options: giraffe, bee, marbles.)

Find--in this case, I used the "picture only" setting. Note the audio button underneath to still allow for hearing the word. Touching the word underneath the picture if choosing "word & picture" will have the same effect.
Find–in this case, I used the “picture only” setting. Note the audio button underneath to still allow for hearing the word. Touching the word underneath the picture if choosing “word & picture” will have the same effect.

Classify–choose the category that the target belongs to. (E.g. Prompt: “Which category does this [picture of checkbook] belong to?” Options: metal things, paper things.)

Classify--see how the patient incorrectly guessed and that option was grayed out; however, she was still able to continue.
Classify–see how the patient incorrectly guessed and that option was grayed out; however, she was still able to continue.

Excludeotherwise known as “what doesn’t belong?” (E.g. Prompt: “Touch the one that doesn’t belong.” Options: can, ticket, calendar.) This section also includes a “hint” button. (E.g. for the previous example, the hint would say “things made of paper.”)

Exclude--check out how the incorrect guess is highlighted in red after it is selected. When first selected, all answers are briefly blue then turn red/green if they are incorrect/correct.
Exclude–check out how the incorrect guess is highlighted in red after it is selected. When first selected, all answers are briefly blue then turn red/green if they are incorrect/correct.

Add One–pick which option on the bottom goes with the others at the top. (E.g. Prompt: “Touch the one that goes with the others [at top, light bulb, window, jar].” Options: toilet paper, glass, sheets, cactus.)

Classify--if the patient or I had hit the "hint" button, it would have provided the category to help the patient reason through which of the bottom pictures to select.
Add One–if the patient or I had hit the “hint” button, it would have provided the category to help the patient reason through which of the bottom pictures to select.

At the end of any of these, you can email the data to yourself (or your patient/student/family).

Therapy Applications: Of course, the main purpose of this app is obvious: teach categorization skills. On a deeper level, though, categorization involves many more skills than just being able to categorize. As Tactus Therapy mentions on their website, the other following goals can be addressed using the app: semantics (you have to know what the words/pictures are and how they relate before you can categorize), organization, reasoning, problem-solving, auditory comprehension, reading comprehension (you can turn on/off the pictures to assist with this depending on the person’s skill level), attention (e.g. you could have a goal of getting through 5 choices without redirection), verbal fluency, divergent naming, convergent naming. In addition to these, I’d like to add that the app is wonderful for working on processing speed in a functional way. The various parts of the app as well as the settings menu can help narrow down which skills are required during a session. I have only used the app with adults; however, I could easily see this being used with primary and secondary students.

Pros: 1. Price. $14.99 is very reasonable for all the opportunities this app offers.
2. Clean layout.
3. Settings options. In my opinion, this is what makes Tactus Therapy apps go from good to great. While many apps can only be used with a certain “type” of patient/student (e.g. certain cognitive level), the different settings in this app make it easy to use with a wide variety of individuals.
4. The prompt phrase gets phased out after a few responses, as clinicians typically do in therapy. However, touching the phrase at the top will repeat it, which is great for people with attention and/or memory difficulties.
5. There is always an option below the picture/word to hear it. This can be used for a variety of functions, but is particularly great for those with visual processing or reading deficits.
6. Areas that have already been guessed incorrectly get grayed out so the individual doesn’t keep pressing same button repeatedly.
7. Errorless learning. You’ll hear a mild ding/beep for correct/incorrect responses.
8. Seemingly endless number of targets and large number of categories.
9. Real photos for more functional representation.
10. As you can see in my reviews of Comprehension TherAppy and Visual Attention TherAppy, the developer’s customer service and networking efforts are wonderful and make using their apps that much easier.

Cons: 1. While data can be emailed, there is no option for adding patients/students and data cannot be stored over time within the app.
2. I would like to be able to change the settings options within a session instead of ending the data collection, changing the settings, and then returning to the activity.

The Take-Away: A very well thought-out, systematic app with a wide variety of uses. It will be a LONG time before you run out of content to use with one patient/student, and the app’s fantastic settings options will allow you to use it with a variety of individuals, regardless of cognitive abilities.

My Questions for You: How would you use this app in therapy? Do you often address categorization or related skills with the population you support?
Disclosure: Tactus Therapy provided me with a free copy of this app to review. I was not compensated in any way for the review, and they were aware that I would be discussing the app’s strengths and weaknesses.


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