App-titude: Gather Around the Virtual Meeting Table

New apps make it easier for interdisciplinary teams to track clients’ learning goals and share treatment strategies.

by Sean Sweeney

Problem: Finding the time to meet “synchronously” with colleagues can be challenging or nearly impossible. Yet connecting with other professionals energizes and reinforces us, in turn benefiting those we serve. Grinding away in our own little niches only fuels burnout.

(At least a partial) solution: Mobile tech tools can help bring us together, even if it’s not physically around a table. Apps can bridge gaps of “unavailability,” be it with colleagues in physical therapy, occupational therapy or other special education areas.

E-mail has lost some of its luster to other online communication resources that make connecting with colleagues simple, structured and fun, resembling our favorite social networking tools. Take Goalbook (free via iOS app and Android). Meant as a portal to share information about shared goals and other relevant data, the tool offers free options and more advanced features at cost.

As with many web-based services, site users should not share students’ personal and confidential information, such as details of reports of diagnosis, photos, full names and dates of birth. However, clinicians can use student initials, along with goal areas and such measurements as percent accuracy and level of cueing for specific tasks. This allows professionals to track goal progress jointly, providing data as well as interdisciplinary communication.

Goalbook’s interface is simple to use and intentionally will remind you of Facebook. This look and feel is also shared by Edmodo (free via iOS app and Android), which—although also not suited to confidential communication—is a great way to share treatment strategies, apps, files and other resources within a team.
Across disciplines

When it comes to individual treatment, apps can help a clinician engage not only with the client, but also with other professionals. Recently I had a student who was not interested in using the iPad, primarily because of fine motor difficulties. The student lacked the ability to point and sweep and so couldn’t activate the fun aspects of apps.

To help the student, I needed advice from another professional—in this case, our occupational therapist. I asked the OT how wrist support and other strategies could facilitate the student’s pointing skills. Based on the OT’s tips, the student’s iPad manipulation skills improved, as did the student’s engagement with contexts presented through apps, which led to increased speech and language. Specifically, consultation with the OT assisted the student with accessing the ABC Food app ($2.99 for iOS), which brings food and the alphabet to life with interactive elements. This interprofessional collaboration led to improved skills in language and fine motor goal areas for the student, and also opened doors to additional activities in this area of interest, such as game-style food-preparation apps and hands-on activities involving the topic of food.
Methodology through apps

Apps can also serve as a common resource among service providers using interdisciplinary therapy methodologies. For example, the Visualizing and Verbalizing® program from Lindamood-Bell can be implemented for students with lessons given by SLPs and special education/literacy teachers. The early stages of the program, which scaffolds students’ ability to describe gestalt imagery, involve the use of concept-laden photos. These are easy to grab and share among service providers using services and apps that access Flickr’s “interestingness” category of robust photos (including a free iOS app). Be sure to preview and save photos appropriate to your setting and population.

Other cross-professional methodologies are beginning to develop apps, such as the Zones of Regulation® curriculum, a cognitive-behavioral approach to addressing deficits in emotional and sensory regulation, executive functions and social cognition. Occupational therapist Leah Kuypers developed the program and app ($4.99 for iOS, Mac, Android and Amazon devices) to be used together across multiple disciplines and in conjunction with materials from the Zones program.

It is exciting to see respected treatment programs such as this one develop engaging electronic and mobile materials. We should look for this to become a trend.

Sweeney, S. (2013, June 01). App-titude: Gather Around the Virtual Meeting Table. The ASHA Leader.


Professional Opinion Corner

Staff, other professionals, parents, educators, physicians are always asking me what I think of specific new and popular programs. They point out that many parents/physicians are seeking individuals with specific program training, and that maybe we should also be doing likewise. My response is always that it depends on the professional administering the program and not on the program itself.

I have been in practice since 1976 and have seen a multitude of programs come and go. Each comes to us with a promise and a hope of saving a certain student or client. I have rarely met a student who was “cured” by a program. I do not believe that any program in the market can completely eradicate a communication or a learning problem. It can help but it cannot cure.

What is needed is a professional who is knowledgeable about disabilities, their causes, and treatment options. We need to expose ourselves to all new programs and see how they can be used to benefit our specific client. We are too well trained to place a client on a specific program and hope that that one program will take care of all the underlying issues.

I have learned to pick and choose aspects of different programs that together with my professional expertise will maximize the client’s growth and improvement.

At SLEA we will always try to expose staff to new methods, programs and materials. However, the bottom line for our staff is their professional training and their caring character.

Helen Sherman-Wade, MA CCC-SLP
Executive Director
Speech, Language & Educational Associates
818-788-1003 Ext. 18

Welcome To Christy House!

Christy HouseWith her father serving in the Air Force, Christy was born in Japan on a military base and spent most of her childhood moving every two and half years while travelling throughout the United States and Europe.  She has lived in Japan, Germany and Italy.

After graduating from high school in Hawaii, she immediately moved to Los Angeles in 1986 and has been working full-time ever since. Christy has 15 plus years in the staffing and recruiting industry placing mid-level and C level Executives in a variety of industries on a national level.

Her most recent experience prior to SLEA, is Director of Human Resources for Behavioral Company specializing in ABA Therapy.  She oversaw the full scope of human resources.  Christy directed staff in the areas of: organizational structure, employment, compensation, employee database maintenance, payroll, benefits administration, employee relations, orientation/training/development, and policy/procedure development and was responsible for the development and monitoring of the human resources division budget. She served on the executive management team and advised company managers about Human Resource issues.

SLEA is delighted to have Christy House as our Human Resources Manager.

Summer Greetings

I want to wish all of you a very pleasant and relaxing summer!  I want to thank all of you for all your “Get Well” wishes, gifts, and cards.  Although I have failed miserably at thanking each of you, I want you to know that all your good wishes and kind thoughts and visits have helped me tremendously!  I am now back to walking (with the aid of a crutch), and driving…so I am on the mend.

I also have not thanked all of you for all the gifts, cards, emails, good wishes on my granddaughter, Ellie’s birth.  She is almost five months old and a sheer joy!

I must thank my administrative team, Shellie, Olga, Eric, Christy and our wonderful support staff in our offices, for keeping our programs running.  We’ve had a wonderful year and we could not have done it without all of you!

As you can see, I have much to be “THANKFUL” for.

We are now busy scheduling for summer and September is looking very good, as well!

We are planning some trainings for the summer which will include most of you!  Please let us know if you feel you need support or specific training in fulfilling your work responsibilities, so we can add your needs to our trainings.

I look forward to seeing all of you, in the office, at some point, this summer!  Thanks for our association!  We couldn’t do it without you!

Best Regards,

Helen Sherman-Wade