Changing Colors: The Blog of Spectrum Pediatrics

Archive for the ‘Technology (Apps & More!)’ Category

March 15, 2017

Technology Tuesday: Hello Spring

We found an app that we had to include in our “Everything Sprouts in Spring” series! The “Hello Spring: Preschool Games” mobile application is available on both your phone or iPad. This app is a great way to “Welcome Spring” with your child. The free version of this application allows you to explore the different things you may see out in nature when spring arrives. This includes growing trees, blossoming flowers, and a rabbit that helps guide your child around the screen. By using your finger to point to different areas on the screen, your child can help the rabbit feed baby birds, give water to the flowers, and help dig with a shovel to grow food in the garden. This is specifically designed for preschool and kindergarten children. For $2.99 you can buy in-app purchases that allow your child to design different animals (bees, birds, etc.), learn about where fresh produce comes from, and take care of baby birds to help them grow.

To learn more about the app or to purchase it click here!


February 21, 2017

Screen Time: What are the new guidelines?

By: Tracy Magee, MS, CCC-SLP

Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released new guidelines on their website regarding screen time and young children. Previously, it was suggested that children should not be exposed to any type of screen – TV, smart phone, or tablet – until a child was at least 2 years of age. Nevertheless, with technology becoming more and more a part of our daily lives, it is almost impossible to completely avoid screens until a child is 2 years old. Here are some highlights from the newly released guidelines…

1. It is best to continue to limit screen exposure for all kids under 18 months. There is one exception – video chat. Feel free to let your little one interact with Grandma and Grandpa each day! Research shows that babies may not be able to participate in the conversational part of a video chat, but they will be able to benefit from playing peek-a-boo with their relative on the screen.

2. With children from 15 months to 2 years old, it is best to sit and watch an educational program with them. It has been found that a child can actually learn some new vocabulary if the parent is participating in watching the program and talking about it.

3. Children between ages 2 and 5 are able to process at least some of the information that is shown in a television program, yet of course, the screen time should still be kept in moderation. Programs and apps developed by the Sesame Street Workshop and PBS have the most research to prove their highly educational value.

Despite these new educational videos and apps, it is important to remember that kids learn best through human interaction! Keep playing and talking with your child each day!

The organization, Common Sense Media, provides great guidance to parents about age-appropriate television, movies, and smart phone apps. You can access information from them at this website or download their free app here!




February 20, 2017

Technology Tuesday: Word Gap App

Have you ever heard of the “word gap”? Our speech therapist, Krystina, found herself talking to families about how to introduce new words and vocabulary to their children. When she decided to look into the reason behind the language differences she saw, she came across research on the “word gap” and found the “Word Gap App”. So, what is the word gap?

Research has recently found that by 18 months there is a significant difference in the early vocabulary experiences amongst children. They now refer to this difference as the “word gap”. A research study at University of Kansas, found that variability exists regarding how many words a child hears a day depending on the parent’s interaction style. Some children hear up to 3,000 words per hour where others only hear 500. As therapists at Spectrum Pediatrics, we often find ourselves teaching parents how important it is to “narrate” throughout the day, meaning talk about what your child is doing as they are doing it. Other strategies we use include reading books and using gestures to supplement verbal communication.

Since you may not always have your therapist with you to help guide you through, we have found the perfect app to help the word gap! It is Aimee’s Babies Word Gap App. This app is very parent-friendly and helps with a variety of topics including managing stress, talking to your child, various activities, and providing other information. This app helps parents with community resources and identifying what factors may cause stress with their child. The “Talking to your Child” section covers different speech milestones and tips for communicating with your newborn to your toddler. We love this app because it also touches on tips to talk to your toddler and various nursery rhymes or activities.

To learn more about the app check out their website here!


January 17, 2017

Trick of the Trade from Jamie Hinchey, MS, CCC-SLP


As a speech therapist I am often working on articulation or development of speech sounds with children between the ages of 5-8. After this holiday season, I noticed that so many of the children I see received some form of technology for Christmas, whether it was an iPad or a different type of tablet. Although it is important to set boundaries on the amount of technology your child uses, it actually can be helpful when working on articulation and home practice. This provides a motivating and fun way for children to want to participate in articulation therapy, which is not always the most fun.

Lately, I have started to use the video or camera feature on the tablet to have the child record how they are producing the sounds. This provides the opportunity for the parents to see how therapy is going if they are unable to be home. It also gives the child a chance to see how they produce each sound and “rate” their sounds. If a child is able to hear the difference in their sound production it often helps them to fix their errors and accurately produce the sound. Another way to have this video feature used in therapy is to record activities so the child can continue to practice throughout the week. The most important part of articulation therapy is the carryover while at home.


December 13, 2016

Technology Tuesday: Ok to Wake App

In a previous Technology Tuesday post we shared a clock that parents can have to help their child understand when it is time to wake up or stay in bed. This clock here has received great reviews from parents, but we recently found this new mobile application that is very similar. This app is called Kid’s Sleep Clock and is designed as a visual aid for to children learn when it is okay to get out bed, or when they have to stay in bed. I also love this app because there are different color settings (red, blue, green, yellow), which you can choose to set to use the clock as a way for children to know when time out is all done or when there is a “quiet break”.

For sleeping, the clock will glow blue when it is sleep time and yellow when it is “time to wake” or time for the child to get out of bed. The phone will glow all night, so you can also use it as a night light or put it further away so the phone is not lighting up the entire room. Having the app could help with traveling since it may not always be easy to bring your alarm clock with you on vacation. We know that children benefit from consistency and routine. This application helps to bring both of those to your child within their bedtime routine! To learn more about the app, click here!


November 8, 2016

Screen Time: What is the impact on language development?

By: Jamie Hinchey, MS, CCC-SLP
  • Children are able to use all different types of technology better than most adults!
  • Screen time does have an impact on language development and overall social development.
  • Parents often have concerns about if they should limit technology, and if so how to do this.

With such an increase in the amount of technology that is available to children, parents often ask the question: How much time in front of a screen is too much? As a therapist, I typically educate parents on the benefit of face to face interaction and how children can learn so much from playing with a caregiver or peer. When we talk about “screen time”, this refers to all of the time a child spend watching something on a screen in front of them. This could be either an educational video or a music video. We know that children learn to communicate at a young age through interactions with other people. From the time a baby is born they are reaching out to communicate with other people by making eye contact, crying, or even starting to make different sounds. As babies grow into toddlers, they start to seek out engagement and constant communication with people. When we talk about communication, this involves interacting with peers and caregivers using both verbal and nonverbal language. This nonverbal language is hard to find during all of those educational videos your child may watch. Yes, they may be learning the ABC’s or how to count, but they are not able to learn the back and forth parts of a conversation. Children would also be able to learn these skills by singing with you or talking about the letters you see while on your walk!

With all of the new technology, there has recently been a burst in the research behind the detrimental effects of screen time on development, specifically language development. One study found that children between the ages of 15-48 months who were exposed to a large amount of television at a young age were more likely to have a language delay. This is consistent with studies that also show children who watch more television generally score lower on communication assessments. As a speech therapist, I often talk about the impact on language development, but there is also research on other aspects of development. This includes decreased attention span, trouble with memory, as well as decreased play skills.

Now that you are aware of what the research says, it might be easier said than done to limit your child’s screen time. Now the hard part: How do I limit the amount of screen time? Check out our post here on ideas to limit screen time with your child!



November 1, 2016

Technology Tuesday: How much is too much?

This information from the Infant and Toddler Forum website is very helpful when looking at overall development for babies and toddlers. The website has plenty of information for mothers who are pregnant or have a newborn. Under the Toddlers to Preschool tab, there are helpful links that will take you to information regarding healthy development, portion sizes, and typical vs. atypical behavior for toddlers.

As a feeding therapist at Spectrum Pediatrics, I often use the portion sizes visual  while discussing mealtime or feeding difficulties with parents. Often times, we forget that toddlers do not need to eat the same “portion size” as adults. This specific part of the website has been very useful for children with feeding difficulties as well as for children who are typically developing! For the visual portion sizes table click here.





October 10, 2016

Technology Tuesday-Goodnight Little Sand Man

Have you heard of Germany’s famous “Little Sand Man”? There is now a mobile application that provides an interactive journey for your child during their bedtime routine. This app follows Little Sand Man through three different scenes: the bear family, the sea, and the family farm! It is designed for children between the ages of 2-5 to provide an interactive bedtime routine. There is also “magic sand” that your child can control by holding their finger on the screen. When the magic sand comes down, it is time for bed! This story will help your child settle down for bed by saying goodnight to all of the different characters. At Spectrum Pediatrics, we often hear the question “How can I help my child fall asleep?” or “What makes a good bedtime routine?”. If you do not want to use the mobile application you could also adapt this idea to your own environment! It might be a fun idea to have your child walk around the room to say “Goodnight” to all of the different objects or toys!

To download the application click here!


August 15, 2016

Technology Tuesday-Sensory Friendly Films

Have you heard about the Sensory Friendly Films project that AMC hosts? This event occurs four times a month, on the second and fourth Tuesday and Saturday. AMC also offers family friendly movies at 10 am on Saturdays in select theaters. AMC has partnered with the Autism Society to offer fun and unique movie showings for children with varying disabilities. During these showings, AMC turns the sound low, the lights on, and allows for children and their families to get up and move around at any time.

For information about where you can find sensory friendly films in your area check out the website here!








July 29, 2016

Trick of the Trade from Brianna Craite, MS, CCC-SLP


The creators of this mobile application describe it as “A free augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) app available for download in the iTunes store. This app includes pre-loaded communication boards, or you can create your own with up to 20-message locations.” This is one of the best free applications I use regularly in therapy. I often use it to take pictures of objects and quickly  make the following:

  • First/ then board
  • Visual schedules
  • Choice Board

Here is a tip on how to use this app for a receptive language activity:

Take pictures of people or objects such as toys, food items, or body parts and ask your child “Where is the apple?” “Where is mommy?” You can have them point to the item as a way to practice vocabulary. I love this app because the use of actual pictures creates a functional way to practice language in everyday life!

Click here to purchase the app!

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