Updated: Oct 1, 2019
Snap Scene by Tobii Dynavox is one of the most functional apps that I have used in my therapy sessions. This app was originally designed for the early intervention (birth-3) population but I’ve found that this app works WONDERS for my adults with aphasia. Aphasia is an acquired language disorder that affects the ability to understand or produce language, as well as the ability to read or write. Aphasia is always due to injury to the brain, most often from a stroke. TBI, brain tumors, or infections can also cause Aphasia.
The type of Aphasia that a patient presents with depends on where the brain damage occurred. Today I will be focusing specifically on Anomic Aphasia that affects a person's word-finding of nouns and verbs.
There are several interventions that therapists use to target word-finding and avoid communication break downs in therapy. Let’s take a look at how I’m using Snap Scene to increase independence in word-finding, avoid communication breakdowns, and reduce frustration.
With Snap Scene, you can take a photo of your immediate environment and tag different parts of the picture with recordings or written labels. For directions on how to use Snap Scene, click here or watch the tutorial I made below!
Functional ways to use Snap Scene for patients with Aphasia:
1. Refrigerator: Just like ME, my patients are typically motivated by food! There is nothing more frustrating than trying to communicate what you are craving and can’t find the right word. Snap a picture of the fridge, freezer, condiments, snack cabinets, whatever, and work together to label via writing or recording so the patient has easy access to their favorites.
2. Grocery Store: Again, my patients are food motivated, so this gives them a chance to request food that they might not have in the house regularly. I have had therapy sessions at the grocery store, browsing the aisles, snapping pictures and talking about what they might like to buy that week for groceries.
3. Restaurant Menus: Everyone has a favorite restaurant. Allowing the patient to easily access the menu and access a recording of the restaurant’s name reduces frustration and avoids a possible communication breakdown with caregivers.
4. Bathroom Essentials: Allowing the patient to access labels to “shower, razor, toothbrush”, etc. allows them to independently express that they might need assistance in the washroom. When a patient loses their independence, these are the things that are hardest to ask for help, but giving them a tool to ask without fighting to find the word will improve their quality of life..
5. Daily Routines: This one you can write down on a sheet of paper, snap a picture, and label parts of their daily routine. For example, you can take a picture of their pill box / medication and label medication name or time that they are supposed to take medication.
The theme here is INDEPENDENCE. Most of my patient’s with Anomic Aphasia are self-aware and know that they have difficulties. We have many conversations about a “new normal” and their expected limitations, but that does not mean we cannot provide them ways to be independent in a functional setting. This tool has worked for many of my patients and their families. Just as any therapy session should, caregivers and spouses should be trained on how to use and edit on this app. I use this app in therapy to promote initiation and to maintain social interactions, to share information and express wants and needs, and to express more complex ideas.
I want to hear from you! Let me know if you have any questions or if you have used any apps to increase independence with the Aphasia population!
Thanks for reading!
Dana Gartlan is a practicing Speech-Language Pathologist that has been working with both the pediatric and adult populations for over 5 years. She has recently opened a private practice that provides in-home speech therapy services to patients in the Chicagoland area.