RRRRRRacing toward good speech – part 2

Back in May, I posted an app review on a “Lite” app called Speech Racer Lite created by Complete Speech (who also created Vowel Viz).

A while ago, I was provided with an app code so that I could review the full version of the app. I will admit, I have lagged behind in my review for a couple of reasons.  First, I wasn’t at all sure how well it would be received by my students…it’s not a “game” and I personally didn’t find it that interesting. Second, I was hesitant (and still am) to promote the exaggerated /r/. However…I finally hauled it out and used it with a student (not just myself)…so here are my thoughts.

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Speech Racer is designed to provide an immediate feedback for /r/ productions. The app provides a visual reinforcement for correct /r/ productions.

Speech Racer provides a Red, Yellow, or Green meter to show accuracy.

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This image shows an “almost” correct /r/.

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There are word-banks for initial, medial, final, blends, and vocalic /r/.

Thoughts:

I like that the app provides a video tutorial to show how to use the app. It also includes tips and tricks for /r/ elicitation which could be helpful.

One item I have conflicted thoughts on is the “frequently asked questions about /r/”. I’m conflicted because it’s written more for parents than professionals, and I dislike even remotely promoting parents doing therapy without SLP guidance…But, I also know, many parents will try to correct speech without seeing an SLP and other parents want something to do at home to supplement therapy (which I think is FABULOUS!). At least the app recommends getting an eval if the child still has /r/ problems by first grade (which is too young for many SLPs to be willing to treat, but just about right for me).

I really like that the app will track errors. At the bottom of the page are Red, Yellow, Green lights (checks) that are pressed to keep score. However, it doesn’t do it automatically, the student (or clinician) has to push the buttons. I’d like to see it keep automatically (since it’s creating the lights – it seems like it could)**. (please see update at bottom of the review)score

A tap on the blue button provides an overall score with percentages for each sound.

However, the app does not store data so it does not keep data over time. There’s no way to track the improvement of a student within the app itself, which is downfall for me. I prefer my apps to keep data within them. Yes, I know that I can always go back and look on paper, but it is incredibly handy to have it right there.

My experience with the students:

Like I said, I was hesitant to encourage the exaggerated /r/ that speech racer requires. However, I decided that the kids will most likely exaggerate it anyway – and if it encourages proper placement, I can shape the correct /r/ later. So, after deciding that, I brought the app out to work with a particular student who is 1) not real motivated and 2) has a persistent /r/ error (probably because of the lack of motivation). This particular student is in older elementary (4-6) grade and has been in therapy forever.

Thoughts:

  • The “record” buttons are touchy. The student occasionally lifted off slightly and the app did not recognize the /r/ sound. However, as frustrating as it was, having to re-do it encouraged LOTS of productions.
  • The student was very motivated at getting the green light. I was surprised that it motivated as well as it did.
  • The app does indeed encourage an exaggerated /r/. However, it also gave lots of time for the student to FEEL how /r/ is supposed to be made.

All in all, I think it’s a great tool. I don’t see myself using it as the sole /r/ app, but it is wonderful for that visual representation when they’re first starting out and finding placement.

The $19.99 price tag is not bad. The app provides some great visual reinforcement and has four different “scenes” to change things up a tiny bit. However, the lack of compiled data sort of sucks some of the joy out of the app (for me).

I’d love to hear how everyone else does /r/ therapy. Do you have a favorite app? I’d love to hear about it.

Until then…Adventure on!

You can find out more information about Speech Racer here.

***Update***

I received some additional information from Complete Speech – for which I am very grateful. I wanted to share it with you here. ” We wanted SLPs to have the flexibility to trump the app’s scoring function based on their own expert judgement specifically for very close productions.”  I LOVE that they responded to my review SO quickly and that they had a reason (a justifiable reason) for the app performing the way it does. They are absolutely correct – when the student has a correct production – but the app doesn’t recognize it for one reason or another (the record button, for example), it DOES need to be marked correct. Thank you Complete Speech for adding to the review!

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8 thoughts on “RRRRRRacing toward good speech – part 2

  1. My son (16) desperately needs more improvement in his speech. We’ll look into this one. We use conversation builder which is great and I’d highly recommend it. But, he needs something more. I’ll be looking over the apps that you’ve reviewed, but in the meantime, if you have a favorite I’d love to hear about it.

    • Hi there, thanks for commenting.
      I can’t really recommend anything since I don’t know your son and what his unique needs are. I can however tell you that there are many apps out there to target various needs. I love most of the Smarty Ears apps (and they are who I have chosen to create my own apps with).

      This app is great for helping visualize correct /r/ productions – and the visual aspect of it may, possibly, help your son. If he’s past the point of needing that visual and just needs practice, R Intensive by Smarty Ears is awesome. I too like Conversation Builder for many students.

      I sincerely hope you have the resources to work with a Speech-Language Pathologist as he or she will most likely be able to help you come up with some great strategies to do at home to encourage his continued growth.

      There are a ton of language apps available and honestly, anything you do with your son is awesome and helpful. Interacting, encouraging practice, and reinforcing correct language is great.

      • Thank you very much for your quick response. I’ll check out the apps that you mentioned. He’s been in speech therapy since the age of 3, but it seems that no matter what we try his progress is always very minimal. He can speak, but very quietly. He struggles with sentence structure and proper word usage. He never initiates a conversation unless prompted or needs something. When in conversation, he’s very repetitive with his replies and questions, out of lack of knowing what to say and the fear of saying something wrong. His replies are very delayed, to the point where most people walk away thinking that he’ll never answer them. I guess I’ve just gotten to that point where I feel that he (or we) is running out of time and therefore I’m looking for any and all options available. I do appreciate your help and for letting me ‘vent’ my concerns. 🙂

        • How frustrating for you (and him). I sincerely hope you are able to find elements that help. Have you considered an augmentative communication system for him? That may be something that can help if he’s frustrated or unable to make his wants/needs known. There are many different kinds that are available, and something as simple as having a keyring with phrases on it like “please wait, I’m thinking of what to say” may be helpful. Many people have the misconception that AAC is only for those people who can’t speak at all, and that’s simply not true. It can be used to help people communicate BETTER. I’ve seen it used well with people who are non-verbal, who stutter, with severe phonological disorders, and with people who take a long time in responding (people with aphasia or autism). You may want to speak with his SLP regarding that option.

          It definitely sounds like you’re on the right track with finding things at home that will help him communicate.

          • Thank you. I am (or was) one of those people who thought that ACC was only for those who were nonverbal. I really like the idea of the key ring. I had no idea that even existed. That’s a big issue for him and because of that delay it’s not only hard for him to have conversations, but it also causes him to give up on even trying and prevents him befriending people. So, thank you! I’ll discuss that option with his SLP and see what other options she may have.

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