Go-Togethers is an application developed to improve language comprehension and expression in individuals of all age groups. The ability to identify and generate words that “go together” in semantic associations is a critical language skill that relates to vocabulary and word retrieval. Go-Togethers provides SLPs, parents and others with a tool to develop categorization, association, and naming skills by interacting with pictures and audio. Go-Togethers is designed specifically to use the touchscreen features of the iPad, iPod Touch, and iPhone to mirror linguistic connections. For example, a touch “sweep” on screen is used to respond and map associations between words. A “tap-to-tally” feature, likewise, is used as a visual and kinesthetic means to reinforce naming of associated items and explanations of how items “go together.”
Go-Togethers is based on research around vocabulary and word meaning development in students. Studies have found that semantic knowledge and naming performance are strongly linked, and that increasing the strength of semantic representations will aid in word retrieval (McGregor, Newman, Reilly & Capone, 2002). Go-Togethers targets semantic representations by having students identify items that “go with” category items in a wide variety of linguistic categories (such as vehicles, school subjects, and seasons). In this way, Go-Togethers aligns with research indicating that improving vocabulary, describing ability and associations between words assists students in language comprehension and reading skills (Bromley, 2007). Therapists, teachers and parents may choose to target items within specific categories, an option within the application that is consistent with studies indicating that categorization improves word storage and retrieval (Miller & Eilam, 2008).
Students with language disorders and autism spectrum disorder often have identified deficits in word knowledge, an area that is targeted by Go-Togethers (ASHA, 2006). Many researchers have supported the use of visual “word maps” to improve associations and retrieval (Westby, 2005, Wallach & Miller, 1988), a technique that is incorporated in the “Receptive” activities within this application. The “Expressive” activities in the app encourage and reinforce rapid retrieval of associated items, an intervention that has been shown to foster significant gains in word retrieval accuracy and vocabulary (Wolf & Seagal, 1999).
Go-Togethers can be used to:
-Help children identify items that share a semantic association.
-Target categories of items, such as rooms in a house, weather and seasons, and buildings.
-Elicit and score students’ naming and description of semantic associations.
-Measure treatment effectiveness and skill growth over time through reported data.
Go-Togethers has the following Features:
-Receptive Activity in which students identify items that are associated with a target word (presented visually and with audio).
-Ability to customize Receptive Activity according to number of possible correct answers presented (1, 2, or 3) to modify level of difficulty.
-Choice of application responses when child selects incorrect item (subtle indication of incorrect response, incorrect item disappears from screen, or “Try Again!” message).
-Selection of specific or all categories to target.
-Expressive Activity in which students verbally generate associated items and association rationales so that SLPs, parents or others can tally the number of times the student “said what” (an item associated with the target) and “said why” (a description of how the item and target are associated).
-Quick Play and Receptive-Expressive combination activities.
-Report presented at conclusion of activity; can be emailed to parent or self for record-keeping.