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Father of a child with Autism reviews Expressive app for iPhone, iPod touch & iPad

Father of a child with Autism reviews  Expressive app for iPhone, iPod touch & iPad
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Application: Expressive v1.2 (Loaded 2/26/2011)

Hardware: iPod Touch 2nd Generation. OS v.4.2.1. (No built-in microphone, No built-in camera)

Child: Diagnosed with Autism with very small verbal expression.

REVIEWED BY MARCOS VAZQUEZ :

This is my initial review (on the first week and a half of use) of Smarty Ears Expressive 1.2. Once I learn and work with my son for a month or two, I will revise or rewrite another review. I have been using the application for a little bit I am still in learning mode before fully understood and use it with my son.

My first impression about Expressive is that this application is solid! It is easy to use and after few minutes interacting with it I felt pretty excited!! I realized the potential benefit for my son in the long run. Expressive can be customized to his particular needs and that is what makes this app so incredible.

I tried to use the app for the first time with my son, few minutes after installed it on an iPod Touch we have. He seemed pretty happy with the visual appearance, and I let him start pushing icons. That seemed to be a mistake because he deleted two folders in matter of 2-3 seconds, so I thought it was not a good idea to let him use this without close supervision. After couple days of using the app I found that deleting or editing content can be restricted in the app settings so it was great that they thought about locking it down.

From a functionality stand point I think this app is quite easy to use but I am a very computer savvy person. Single phrases and words can be put together easily but one thing I didn’t like much is the fact that you have to navigate back and forth to different folders in order to create a phrase. I believe the best way to use it will be creating new folders with actions, verbs and word to specific scenarios to practice. For example, in the morning before he goes to school, I created a folder using the built-in icons to create a list of things he normally does before school such as dressing up, choosing his clothes & colors, and foods he likes for breakfast. We have formed small sentences and he has repeated them successfully. I think in the long run he will learn those phrases and will be able to say those independently down the road.

Expressive has the capability to load your own pictures and record sounds, however I could not tested that because I have an iPod Touch with no built-in camera or microphone. I will buy one of those headsets with microphone to try this functionality later on. Another nice thing is that besides the built-in library you can import pictures from your existing library. I imported pictures I already had in the iPod Touch library and it was pretty straight forward, but again no sound to record for the newly created icon.

Finally, I believe this app is very well designed and will be a great tool for my son to develop speech skills and I highly recommended this app to parents with kids with speech problems or speech therapy professionals. Below is the summary of Pros and Cons I could find so far.

Pros:

–        Affordable – not bad at all for the price, however if you don’t have any portable device to load the app you’ll need to buy one.

–        Ease to use – I thought everything was pretty straight forward but again I’m a computer savvy person.

–        Customizable – I loved this flexibility! I can create any scenario for my son to practice based on his needs and vocabulary.

–        Adding more stuff is easy – Adding actions from the built-in library, iPod Touch pictures can be really straight forward. I have only one concern that the app might have a limitation of how many additional icons you can create and it will be great to see that documented in the Expressive website.

–        Ability to lock down the app – I thought this feature was missing and a big flaw to permit changes but after finding it I have no fear that my son will delete everything from the app.

Cons:

–        Small Icons and letters – I believe this app was developed for larger devices such as iPads rather than iPhones or iPod Touch devices and it is a little tough to read some of the words. It would be nice to be able to customize that as well making larger the icons.

–        Screen rotation unavailable – Because the icons are too small I was hoping that the screen could be rotated to display larger icons. Well, at least I have seen other app vendors have used that screen rotation feature to take care of the small icon issues, enlarging icons and fonts.

–        Sound too soft – you really need to be in a quiet environment in order to listen to the voice. I know this might work better for an iPad or Android tablets and that confirms my earlier statement that this app seemed to have in mind that tablet device market.

–        Built-in library – It has many icons built-in and when adding those to the scenarios I was creating I needed to scroll down or up until you find what I wanted and it was a little overwhelming to find stuff. I’d suggest that the library should be organized by categories to make browsing and adding icons a better experience.

–        Cost low?? – It is only for the app but it might be in the hundreds of dollars if you don’t have a portable device or want to upgrade for a tablet version.