Bungalow Aphasia Tutor 1 & 2

Publisher: Bungalow Software

Price: US$99.50 each for Aphasia Tutor Standard); US$149.50 each for "Out Loud" version

Address: 2095 Wakefield Dr., Blacksburg, VA 24060-8184, United States

Phone: (540) 951-0623

Web site: www.BungalowSoftware.com

Aphasia Tutor software was designed for use with older adults who have lost language function as a result of a stroke or dementia, but I have used it with children as young as third grade.

The Bungalow Software product line was designed for use primarily with older adults who have lost language function as a result of a stroke or dementia. Indeed, most of my experience with these programs has been in nursing homes while working with such clients. However, I have also used this software with children as young as third grade through high school.

Aphasia Tutor 1 focuses on recognition and retrieval of letters and words. There are six main task types on this program (eight if you want to count the noun and verb tasks as different "types"):

  • In the letter matching task, a letter (upper- or lower-case) appears on the screen and the patient clicks the matching letter from two to four choices presented below.
  • In the letter copying activity, a letter appears on screen, but instead of choices below, there is a blank window in which the patient types the matching letter.
  • The next task is word matching, in which a word appears on the screen and the patient clicks the matching word from the two to four choices presented below.
  • The word copying task works much the same way as letter copying, except that the patient sees an entire word and types it into the window below.
  • In the picture matching task, the patient sees a picture of an object (picture matching, nouns) or a person performing an action (picture matching, verbs), and clicks the matching word below from the selection of two to four possibilities
  • Finally, in picture naming, nouns and picture naming, verbs, the patient sees a picture and types the full word into the window below. These tasks use the same picture set as the picture matching tasks
  • Aphasia Tutor 2 works in much the same way as AT1, except that it focuses on phrases and full sentences rather than letters and words. The patient supplies the missing word from a phrase (e.g., light and ____), sentence (I can't read without my ____), or definition (A baking ingredient made from finely ground wheat). The user can choose multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank for all of these, as with Aphasia Tutor 1. An additional task, available only in multiple choice, is Sentence-Picture Matching, in which the user selects the appropriate sentence below a stimulus picture.

    Variations

    As with so many things in life, you get what you pay for. These are pricey programs, but this is due to the range of features that make them so flexible and adaptable to an individual's needs and abilities.

    The software allows the user to change the number of choices on the matching tasks according to the ability of the patient. For some people, four choices may be overwhelming, but two may not be much of a challenge; three may be just right. Another setting you can change is how long the letter, word, or picture stimulus remains on the screen, from one second to continuously. This is a nice feature if you are working on response speed, short-term memory, or attention. You can also set the response items to appear either at the same time as the stimulus item, or after it disappears.

    Both of these programs are available in a standard form with only visual stimuli, or in "Out Loud" form, which allow the option of a recorded voice presenting the stimuli over the computer system's speakers. The voice can be turned on or off. The "Out Loud" versions cost slightly more, but they allow a bit more flexibility.

    With a lot of the people I have treated using these programs, I have found that it works best if I control the mouse and keyboard and have the person point to the matching item or say the word to type into the answer space. Many of my elderly clients are uncomfortable with computers and/or don't know how to type, so my doing it for them takes relieves this anxiety and allows them to focus on pictures and words/letters. On the other hand, some of the children I work with tend to "guess-click," simply hitting each choice until they get the right one, which does not facilitate the kind of learning I want them to experience. For this reason, I have purchased a wireless mouse and keyboard set and consider it some of the best money I have ever spent.

    These are not inexpensive programs, and the folks at Bungalow realize this. The web site is nicely set up to help you figure out if the program you are looking at is appropriate for the person you are buying it for. The company offers a pretty extensive line of products, one of their other offerings may be more appropriate. Clicking on the "Help me choose programs" button on the home page takes you to an interactive form where you can check the boxes corresponding to the types of goals and needs you want to address; based on your responses, you will get a list of recommended programs to choose from.

    Another option is to order the trial CD (US$9.95) and try out the various programs to see which ones work best for you. Each program is available on the CD for a limited trial period. Once you make your decision, you can pay online for the program(s) and the company sends you a key code that allows you to convert the trial program to the full version and begin using it immediately.

    One last thing, just as fair warning: the pictures featured in Aphasia Tutor were selected for use with adults, not children. Don't worry, they're not violent or pornographic, but they are also not designed to be engaging for children. None of them are what a general audience would find offensive; however, in the older version that I have, there is a picture of a woman sipping a glass of wine, as well as a picture of a bra. I don't know if these pictures still appear in the updated version. Parents who want to be extra careful about what pictures their children see might want to start by ordering the trial CD and pre-screening the programs to see if they meet your standards.

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