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They Gave It to Me: Conversation TherAppy


{From the Proprietor: This is the first “They Gave It to Me” post, and it may or may not be the last, depending on how generous app developers and product vendors feel in the future. Henceforward, any app, device, book, etc. which I receive from its creator at no cost specifically for review purposes will be titled similarly. As with reviews and commentary found elsewhere on .farnham .speech, I will only accept promotional items for review on the condition that I be allowed to publish a review I believe to be thorough, accurate and honest, no strings attached.}

Tactus Therapy Solutions has developed a reputation for developing high quality, high density apps tailored specifically to be used by SLPs. Language TherAppy in particular has seen positive reviews and I’ve heard anecdotal evidence of significant adoption from other clinicians I know, and Visual Attention TherAppy can save a lot of time and paper at the copy machine for doing cancellation tasks with patients with RHD.

Their most recent endeavor is Conversation TherAppy, which is a two-headed chimera of data-keeping tool and visual/written stimuli package, and the Tactus folks were kind enough to give me a promo code. The app is highly content-driven, making it a potentially useful tool for any child, client, or patient working on oral or written expression, motor speech, pragmatic, or higher-order verbal reasoning.


As with other apps in the Tactus repertoire, the crown jewel of Conversation TherAppy lies in high-quality written and image stimuli. The stock imagery used to accompany the conversational prompts are better than any I’ve seen in printed therapy materials, and better curated (not to mention faster) than pulling your own from Google Image search.


Accompanying each picture is a customizable array of icons representing categories of written stimuli, which include: Decide, Describe, Feel, Define, Remember, Infer, Evaluate, Predict, Brainstorm, and Narrate. From those titles alone it’s easy to see what sorts of targets the app provides ready material for. Tapping these buttons brings up such conversation prompts as “Do you think it’s riskier to bring up religion or politics in a conversation?” (Decide), “What are the pros and cons of wearing makeup?” (Evaluate), and “What impact will the Internet have on censorship?” (Predict).


The kinds of topics available for discussion are extremely broad, from ADLs to auto theft to culture to food to politics to sex to suicide to war, with all sorts of others in between. Topics can be curated for each user, depending on age, emotional factors, etc.


Conversation TherAppy was designed with groups in mind, and the familiar traffic-light inspired Tactus “correct, cued, incorrect” buttons for each participant in the conversation sit in that person’s tab at the top of each screen. Flipping back and forth between participants is a snap, and the app doesn’t force you as the clinician into any particular mould regarding how much data you collect in what context for which prompt.


I’ve been using the app off an on with a patient with aphasia and acquired apraxia for a few weeks now, and my overall feelings are mixed, but generally positive. As mentioned above, the stimulus materials are fantastic, and performance data is quickly stored and easily accessed. What I found myself wishing for was a mode where my patient could simply view the images and read the text, without the rest of the visual noise. All of my testing was done exclusively on an iPhone 4S, so it’s possible that the added screen real estate on an iPad, possibly even an iPhone 5, would have alleviated it some. That said, in a perfect world, this app would work the same way The Incident lets you use your phone as a controller for the game running on an iPad over Bluetooth. Your kids/clients/elders could pass around the device that just had photos and text, while you kept data and changed stimuli on another device nearby. At any rate, I found the crowded screen frustrating, and my patient found it overwhelming to look at, let alone interact with.

My other gripe beyond the visual overload is similarly a problem with the product as an app, rather than its content. Many of the transitions—when bringing up a tab, when editing settings—take about twice as long to slide into place as you expect them to. This adds to an overall feeling of sluggishness throughout the app. Not all the transitions suffer from this, so one hopes it could be changed in a forthcoming dot release. While neither of these factors—slow transitions or visual noise—is a dealbreaker by any stretch of the imagination, I found them a bit aggravating, and I am sure I would have been even more frustrated by them if I had paid full price. Speaking of which…

The app costs 25 bucks American (or $24.99 in App Store speak). While this price is definitely on the high end when one considers the price of apps writ large, it seems more than reasonable when you consider the wealth of materials inside. This app could pay for itself in the time it could save you on trying to dig up or create similar quality stimuli. I shudder to think of what a book with a CD full of PDFs to print with these same materials would cost. It really is hard to overstate just how rich, dense, and engaging the content can be.

As always, they have a free light-on-content-but-you-get-the-idea version as well, if you want to kick the tires. If you have any need for some new tricks to get your clientele talking—and you do—Conversation TherAppy may very well be worth your while.

{Tactus}{app store link}

SprayLoud ear buds by DEFBUDZ. Happy Better Speech and Hearing Month, everybody.

SprayLoud ear buds by DEFBUDZ. Happy Better Speech and Hearing Month, everybody.