Saturday, June 17, 2017

App Review - Social Detective Intermediate

I'm so excited to be writing my first review for an app!  The app that I had the opportunity to try out is called Social Detective Intermediate by Social Skill Builder, INC.  Before we jump into my opinion of it, here are a couple of quick facts about the app.

-Meant for students ages 7-12
-Is the next addition to their popular Social Detective Beginner app
-Costs $24.99
-Requires IOS 9.0 and is comparable with your iPad
-First premise is that students act as detectives to identify the thoughts or emotions that a character is feeling, based on a social scenario by making a smart guess.
-Second premise is that students identify the clues that allow these smart guesses (raises awareness of what is seen and heard aka what social cues should they be recognizing in real life).

Okay let's get into it!

What did I love?

I loved the super catchy song that plays after selecting the app - it talks about how using social skills takes your eyes, ears, AND heart. You could have a whole week's speech lesson right there, discussing how those three things are necessary for social etiquette.

There are audio directions for our students to listen to, which allows them to be a little more independent while using the app and perfect for our students who struggle with literacy and reading/following written directions.

This app has enormous diversity in the types of social scenarios that you experience and clear and vivid pictures related to the social scenario. It had way more social situations than I would have ever been able to think of myself, and saved me the time of looking for a visual cue to go with them all.  It's just a time saver in general.

A lot of my speech groups are groups of three, so this app worked well for them.  Each scenario comes with three questions related to the scene, so each student was able to answer one question.  It was great because they all felt compelled to listen carefully, since they knew that everyone would have a turn answering a question about what they heard.

Data collection is an area that you hear SLPs talking about all the time and questioning how they can make it easier.  One plus of this app is that it is built right into the games.  Data is taken and shown via a bar graph that you can access any time.  A perk is that you can email the bar graph data to yourself, or to another person, to print out and send home, or keep in their speech folder to document progress over time.  Students can see their own progress as well, since bar graphs are easy to understand.

I loved that this app provides for a way to work on social skills even when you see students who are mandated for individual sessions.  It can be really difficult to work on picking up on social cues and identifying other peoples' perspectives and feelings when you don't have other people in the room to act out scenes with.  Using this app, you can target these same goals without needing additional people!

What improvements do I think would be beneficial?

-Although there was the option to turn on or turn off positive and negative reinforcer sounds, I felt that the negative sound was a little harsh.  The students that I am using this app with are already self-conscious about their social pragmatic deficits, and the strong negative buzzing sound when they answered incorrectly was not encouraging.  I feel that this noise could be replaced with something a little less dramatic, such as a funny voice saying, "Oops!"

-The app does have some diversity in the area of avatar selection, however it was still somewhat narrow with there being one choice for an asian girl, one choice for an african american girl, one choice for an african american boy, two choices for caucasian girls, and two choices for caucasian boys.  My caseload is mostly made up of students from the middle east, and they were unable to select avatars that reflected their own appearance.

-As I mentioned above, I was happy that directions were both audio & written on some of the pages however, the audio wasn't offered during the actual videos.  You really need to listen to the voice because the picture alone will not give your student enough information to infer what is happening. This meant that my deaf/hard of hearing students needed me to repeat what was said for them, since listening to a recorded voice was too hard for them to understand.

-Every scenario had three questions associated with it.  For some reason, the third question frequently was difficult to answer in terms of dragging the correct social thought into the thought cloud on the picture (which is how you answer the questions).  The answer was difficult to drag and release, allowing to have your answer accepted.  I found that I had to try multiple times before my answer "stuck" which could be frustrating to students.

Curious and want to try a demo?  Click Here!

Like what you saw and want to purchase the app?  Click Here! If you do purchase it and also write a review on your own blog, be sure to email the link to and they will send you a free promo code for their Social Skill Builder Lite app!

Disclaimer: I did receive a free copy of this app in exchange for a review, however the review is entirely my own opinions and I received no additional compensation for this review.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

How a Moment in my CFY Almost Broke Me, and what I Learned from it

I'd be lying if I said there were times during my CFY that I didn't want to quit, throw in the towel, run home crying, and open a yarn store pretending to know nothing at all about speech or language. Don't get me wrong, I had some great moments during that year.  I met two of my best friends, joined a tight-knit speech department, started the process of becoming PROMPT certified, gained a mentor, learned how to use an otoscope, solidified my bilingualism, gained confidence in who I was, and gained a vision of who I could become.  Despite all of the incredible moments, there was one low point that stands out to me when I think back upon that year.  Five years later, I'm ready to share this with CFYs who may be about to start the journey, are mid-way through, or who are nearing the finish line.

I started my clinical fellowship in July of 2012 after landing a job at my dream location.  I was in SLP heaven.  Come November, however, I received a somewhat needed wake up call.  I was called into a meeting to find out that one of my favorite student's families had made a request to the school that their child be removed from my caseload.  They believed I was just too young and too inexperienced to work with their child.  I was crushed and couldn't help thinking: but what about that stellar communication notebook I had put my heart and soul into, sent home every single day with notes from the day, activities to be completed at home, and pictures of their child engaged in an activity? What about the rapport I had built with my student who initially refused to transition through the hall with me but now bounded towards me when I opened their classroom door? But what about the relationship I thought I had built with her mother, her father, her aunts, and her grandmother? And what about the frequent phone calls, emails, and invitations to come and participate in a session?  None of it seemed to matter anymore, and I felt like a failure in every sense of the word.

So, what did I do?

Well, after texting my mom and boyfriend (now husband) about how terrible of a therapist I must be, I went to speak with my supervisor in private.  This saint of a woman reassured me that she had spoken with my student's family and told them that I was qualified, motivated, and a wonderful match for their child.  She told them that she had observed me with their student and that my compassion and understanding for her individual needs was above all expectations.  Lastly, she told them that she would like to leave their child on my caseload for the remainder of the year, with the possibility of discussing any lingering concerns again in the summer in anticipation for the following school year.
Thankfully, the family agreed.

That August, and for the next three Augusts, the family requested me as their child's speech-language pathologist.

So, what did I learn?

Build a strong relationship with your speech supervisor and accept any observations or feedback that she offers to you.  Why?  If you do so, and she is as incredible and awesome as mine was, she'll have your back in times of need.

Be in frequent contact with your students' families. Invite them in, let them know progress and concerns. Send home activities to promote carryover skills. Why?  If you wind up in the same situation that I did, you will be able to honestly and confidently tell your supervisor that you did all you could to try and build rapport and collaborate with the family. They won't be able to say that they did not have communication with you.

Don't take everything so personally.  This family did not ask to have their child removed because of poor therapy or lack of progress.  Understand and respect that they were advocating for their child in the best way they knew how and that they were acting out of fear.  Fear of their child's future and fear of not knowing exactly what they should be requesting in terms of a therapist.  To them, most experienced meant best.  If this happens to you, remember that it is not a personal attack on you as a therapist.

...And when in doubt, hit up your good friends Ben and Jerry for some emotional support.

*Special thanks to Lisa Bloechle for always having my back <3