Monday, August 15, 2011

#AppMondayTAS - VAST apps by SpeakinMotion

UPDATE (08/19):  Winners of promo codes for VAST speech therapy apps have been announced.  See comments below.  Congratulations!
I am excited to introduce two apps by SpeakinMotion: VAST Autism 1 - Core and VAST Songs 1 Intro.  These two apps are part of a growing series that use mobile and video technologies to augment and enhance proven speech therapy techniques.

What is VAST?

VAST is an innovative approach to improving and facilitating oral communication for individuals with speech impairments.  VAST combines evidence-based practices with state-of-the-art video technology.  Viewing close-up video models of mouth movements simultaneously paired with auditory, and sometimes, written cues enables these individuals to readily produce speech.  In other words, VAST enables individuals with speech impairments to communicate in real-time using their own voices!

For a better idea of the inherent capabilities of technology like the VAST apps for children with special needs, watch the video below of Cindy (age 8).

Source:  iTherapyTV

(iTunes App Store | Universal | $2.99)
The VAST Autism app is a revolutionary speech therapy tool for students with autism and motor speech programming disorders such as apraxia.  This app combines the highly effective concept of video modeling with written and auditory cues.  These cues improve literacy as well as communication skills.  Students learn relevant words, phrases, and sentences, which increases functional communication.  The words, phrases, and sentences that are presented are concrete and have meaning that can be generalized throughout the day in the student's natural environments.

Within the app, videos are organized in a hierarchy of 5 categories, or levels of difficulty:
1.  Syllable Repetition
2.  Single Syllable Words
3.  Multi-Syllable Words
4.  Phrases
5.  Sentences

I think you will be surprised with the immediate results you will see in using this app with students!  The use of video modeling is highly engaging.  While viewing VAST videos, students will attempt to imitate the modeled mouth movements or even touch their mouths in response to the model.  Students who are initially nonverbal will then begin to attempt word approximations.  The skills that students acquire from using the VAST Autism app will generalize as they will begin attending to the oral motor movements of those who speak to them during daily interactions.

This "Core" app is the first release of the VAST-Autism program, which the developer intends to expand with future apps as well as using their web-based platform.  They ask users to direct feedback to

  • Evidence-based techniques
    • Research has shown the use of video modeling to be highly effective not only in teaching new behaviors, but also promoting maintenance and generalization.
    • Visual input is the most important source of feedback for individuals with developmental apraxia of speech.
    • Visual language and literacy - Although individuals with autism demonstrate difficulty speaking and writing, they are still able to learn how to read and spell
  • Video models paired with simultaneous auditory and written cues
  • Option of viewing Full-Length Videos or accessing specific clips using Separated Playlists.
  • Mirror feature (NEW in version 1.2) promotes oral motor sequencing and self-monitoring.  Access options for the mirror can be customized in the app settings.  Read more about the Mirror feature on the proactive Speech blog.
  • In-app Use Guide.  Additionally, the developer will make more extensive information and professional guidance available on the web.
Wish List:
  • Built-in data collection - possibly video record the student's attempts?
  • Ability for therapists (or even parents) to add more videos, which would allow for more individualized content
  • Could the extensive information and professional guidance that the developer is going to make available on the web include videos of example therapy sessions incorporating the VAST-Autism app?  Webinars for therapists or parents who are interested in becoming certified in using the VAST approach?


      (iTunes App Store | Universal | $2.99)

      The VAST Songs app supplements the widely accepted treatment technique of singing in speech therapy by providing extra cueing.  This app makes it possible for students to simultaneously hear the song while following the oral movements.

      VAST Songs 1 - Intro includes 10 songs:
      1.  Happy Birthday
      2.  Row Your Boat
      3.  Twinkle Little Star
      4.  For He's a Jolly Good Fellow
      5.  You Are My Sunshine
      6.  Yankee Doodle
      7.  Zippadee-Do-Dah
      8.  Amen
      9.  Take Me Out To The Ball Game
      10.  My Country Tis of Thee

      Did you know that individuals with speech impairments generally sing better than they can speak?  Using melody and rhythm enables them to say words and phrases that they might not be able to produce under other circumstances.  As music also stimulates several different areas of the brain, there is an inherent value for the students to simply sing the songs.  The desired end result in using VAST Songs would be for the student to generalize the automaticity involved in singing to speech production.

      • Songs were carefully selected for a specific reason or therapeutic application
      • Choice of Male Model or Female Model
      • Option to view written text subtitles in videos for an additional cue
      • Each song includes a description highlighting certain speech sounds & written transcript of the lyrics
      • In-app Use Guide for therapy - background on use of singing in therapy, suggestions on how the transition from singing to speech could be approached, & rationale why each song was selected.

      Wish List:
      • Add the Mirror feature in this app too, so child could self-monitor their attempts at singing the songs.
      • Built-in data collection - possibly video record the student's attempts?
      • Ability for therapists (or even parents) to add more songs, which would allow for more individualized content

      The developer have provided us with 3 promo codes for each the VAST apps to giveaway to active followers and readers of the Teaching All Students blog. You can enter to win a promo code by doing the following:

      1. Comment below on this post.  Tell us what you find most interesting about the VAST approach to speech therapy.  
      Please state which app (VAST Autism or VAST Songs) you would like to win.

      2. Tweet the following: "RT @techieteacher #AppMondayTAS - 
      VAST apps by SpeakinMotion - win promo codes #teachingall #SLPeeps #SLPChat" AND comment below letting us know you have retweeted & which app (VAST Autism or VAST Songs) you would like to win.

      3. Like Teaching All Students AND SpeakinMotion on Facebook. Leave a comment on either Facebook page about this giveaway, what you think of their apps, & state which app (VAST Autism or VAST Songs) you would like to win.

      If you choose to do all 3, you will be entered 3 times. Winners will be announced Friday afternoon. Good luck!

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