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Today’s blog post comes from Jeremy Legaspi, a speech language pathologist at UPWARD in Phoenix, Arizona. Follow Jeremy on Twitter @AZspeechguy or visit

As a pediatric SLP, I’m always looking for new ways to interact with my patients and incorporate fun into my treatment plans. The iPad is awesome because I can use it for documentation and office purposes as well as for treatment. As a big iPad fan, I have about 500 apps. Here are the top five applications I use most frequently with my pediatric patients.

1.) Custom Boards

Custom Boards

One of’s "Best App for Special Needs of 2012,” Custom Boards Premium is an evidence-based app that allows you to use or create activity boards for children needing symbols to communicate and learn. Boasting over 11,000 built-in symbols from the Smarty Symbols library as well as the ability to add your own photos, Custom Boards allows you to select from a pool of templates in six areas: Devices & Switches, Grids & Boards, Schedules, Activities, Signs, and Labels & Worksheets. 


Below is an example of a final /p/ worksheet I created as homework for one of my patients. I have also created several manual communication boards for my patients using the Grids & Boards template. Additionally, the Schedules & Calendars feature allows you to create schedules on the fly, which is useful for my patients with Autism.

Custom Board Game Example

2.) Toca Kitchen by Toca Boca

Toca Kitchen Menu

While not a therapy-specific app, I’ve incorporated Toca Kitchen into numerous patient sessions. With this app, the user acts as a cook, creating dishes for customers. My patients love to cook the food and then have the characters eat it. Additionally, I use this app to teach the use of pronouns paired with verbs, like “cut,” “mix,” “chop,” and “blend.” Additionally, the kitchen setting is conducive to teaching instructions. If you are a creative therapist or parent, you’ll find many more uses for Toca Kitchen!

toca kitchen scene Toca Kitchen Customers

3.) PRC: Directing Activities

PRC Directing Activities Dashboard

Directing Activities is the second app in a series that features the six Stages of Language Development from PRC’s AAC Language Lab (using Unity 32 through 144). Directing Activities focuses on Stage Two. Featuring Learn, Practice, and Review steps, the app contains the core words “want,” “stop,” “more,” “help,” “go,” “do,” “like,” “turn,” “eat,” “drink,” “feel,” “get,” “come,” “don’t,” “play,” and “read.”  These vocabulary terms have corresponding icons that match the Unity language system on Prentke Romich Company communication devices.

Learn Practice Review
Learn screenshot practice example review example

4.) The Speech-EZ Apraxia Program

Speech EZ dashboard

The Speech-EZ® application equips you with the tools you need to improve speech intelligibility and literacy development for children with CAS (childhood apraxia of speech). The app uses real-life photographs and engages the child as they practice their speech.

Additionally, Speech-EZ allows you to manage multiple patient cases. You can track data across your sessions and organize patient goals. I especially love it because all your sound cards are in one easy-to-access, organized space. Even better, if a patient’s parent has the Parent version of the app, he or she can follow up and continue practicing until the next session.

 piece example

5.) Peekaboo Barn

Peekaboo Barn dashboard

Peekaboo Barn is a fun app you can use not only as a motivator, but also for teaching cause and effect. Upon opening the app, patients find a happily bouncing barn. Tap the barn to open its door and find a farm animal. Patients must guess the animal type based on the sound it makes.

Patients enjoy guessing animals by sound, then seeing the animal names, which helps develop early literacy skills. There are about 10 languages included, and you are also able to record your own voice saying the animal names.

Barn Mouse example

Have you used any of the abovementioned apps? What do you think of them? What other ipad apps for physical therapy do you use in your clinic?

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