Why we love this app
Any app that contains therapy in the name makes us leery, but when it's created by a licensed speech therapist and peer reviewed research supporting its methodology for use with dyslexia is cited on the developer's website, it merits a close look. Visual Attention TherAppy seeks to improve scanning ability and discrimination of letters and symbols which, if successful, should translate into better reading fluency. The iPad lets users complete their therapy on the go, so odds are there will be better compliance. Extensive, emailable data reporting lets parents and teachers supervise progress.
What it teaches and how it works
Visual Attention TherAppy has both a practice mode and a test mode. The only difference between the two is that in practice mode, students are required to select targets in order to train scanning left to right and top to bottom. All sessions collect and chart data so there is a running record of how many attempts were made, number of errors, and time to complete. The tasks involve selecting target letters or symbols from a grid of very similar looking characters. Students might be asked to tap all the b's in the field making sure not to tap any d's. Children with dyslexia often have problems with letter reversals. There are 10 levels of increasing difficulty to complete, but levels can be skipped. Parents, teachers, or therapists can set the number of trials required to complete a level. There are also options to specify how many lines appear on screen and to adjust spacing between targets. A blinking light to draw attention to either side of the screen is available to prompt those with inattention.
Why your kid won't be able to put it down
The challenge of racing the clock makes the exercises into a game that all kids, regardless of their need for therapy, will enjoy. It's simple to understand the concept yet challenging because of the need for speed. Since each trial takes only a few minutes, kids won't mind using the app daily between rounds of Minecraft and other popular tween fare. If the research is to be believed, then sustained use may result in reading being less of a chore which is reason enough not to put it down.
|appoLearning Report Card||
|Features specific educational objectives|
|Fosters critical thinking|
|Adapts to kids' skill level|
|Intellectually stimulating for children|
|Instructions are clear and simple|
|Well-suited to age group|
|Assesses progress and proficiency|
|Parents and teachers can assess progress|
|Features and Design|
|Unique in its concept, design and approach|
|Engaging design and repeatable content|
|Excellent value for price|
|Doesn't require additional in-app spending|
|Safety and Privacy|
|Doesn't expose kids to external services or advertisers|
|Doesn't ask for personal data|
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