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It is fair to say that, on occasion, the tech-savvy speech-language pathologists at Communication Therapy in Chicago become obsessed with an iPad app. This summer, that app is PaperDesk*. We love this app because it is a fantastic tool for us to use clinically in our pediatric practice and in our “behind-the-scenes” work as therapists. We want to share with you why we love this app and to let you know that it is currently only $3.99 in the iTunes App Store, a 75% savings. (There is a Lite version of this app, but at this price, it’s worth buying, so you’ll have the extra space and features.) Read more about it, be sure to look at the images the developer has shared, and link to purchase the app here.

First, a quick description of Paper Desk. While we have tried various note-taking apps, this is our favorite, hands-down. The developers have created an interface that closely resembles a pad of paper and allows us to type, write, draw, and even record our voices as we are creating a document. The app has 58 fonts to choose from, and it is very easy to change font, color, and style, while typing. What is also impressive is the way PaperDesk allows us to quickly switch to the drawing feature. Insert a photo into the document easily by taking a new one from the camera within the app or choosing an existing picture from the iPad’s photo library. When we are finished with a notebook we have many sharing options (email, Twitter, Google, Dropbox, iTunes, print). We especially love that we can set our iPads to autosync between PaperDesk and Dropbox – this means that all of our work is also accessible on our laptops and even our iPhones at any time.

Clinical Uses: We are only just beginning to explore the clinical uses of PaperDesk with our clients. Certainly, it is an easy way to write and save a play plan or visual schedule for a child in a session. It’s an easy way to add visual aids for a child who benefits from them to aid language comprehension. But we are also loving it for writing quick social stories with our kids. Children love to write stories about themselves and their experiences, and they adore shifting back and forth between typing and drawing – not to mention inserting photos of themselves into a notebook! When a child was processing his family’s move to a new house last week, SLP Adria Leno sat down with him and wrote a terrific story with him about what he was experiencing. They drew pictures, typed text, and inserted pictures showing how he felt about the changes. Adria printed the story for the boy wirelessly from the iPad, and he took it home to read again and again and share his experience and feelings with others. Further, she was able to use the email feature to send a PDF copy to his parents in case it gets lost. Next we will try using the recording feature to have a child tell the story for each page of his notebook.

“Behind-the-Scenes” Uses: We are experimenting with using PaperDesk to assist us in collecting information for our treatment notes. Jordan Sadler, SLP and Clinic Director, has created a folder for each of her clients within the app. Each folder is given the child’s initials for privacy. Jordan starts a new notebook for each session, titling it with the date of service. Data collection, notes on progress, thoughts for the next session, and even photos of the child engaging in new and interesting experiences she wants to remember are collected in the notebook. At the end of a busy day seeing clients, having this collection of text and visuals make writing treatment notes for the client files simple, and are more interesting to share in a parent meeting than a typical verbal report on progress or brief treatment notes that are designed for insurance company reviews. Although she was worried that using an iPad to take notes in this way would be too distracting for her clients, this has never been the case. The children see that she is not playing a game and don’t pay any attention to the device.

Further, at the recent 2-day Profectum Academy conference she attended in the Chicago area, Jordan used PaperDesk to collect all information that pertained to the event. First, she created a folder titled “Profectum”, then set up a notebook for each of the two days’ notes and filed them in that folder. Rather than handwriting her notes while listening to the speakers, she used a stylus to jot down notes quickly in that day’s notebook. At this conference, all handouts were provided to participants via email in PDF form. When Jordan opened that email on the iPad, these PDF documents had the option to be “saved in PaperDesk” and then filed in the Profectum folder as well. In this way, all presentation documents and participant notes were filed in the same folder in PaperDesk. And remember, Jordan can now access those from her laptop and even her iPhone via Dropbox at any time – extremely handy!

We hope this review will be useful to many parents, clinicians, and teachers – we think this app is well worth adding to your iPads. If you have it, please leave us a comment about how you’re using it!

 

*Although we frequently receive free apps from developers, we have no relationship with WebSpinner, LLC, the creator of PaperDesk.

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Here in the Chicago office that houses Communication Therapy and Chicago P.L.A.Y. Project we are very excited about our work using iPad apps with children with special needs! We have plenty of information to share with you, no matter where you are.

In the Chicago area?

Consultations: Not certain if the iPad is the perfect tool for your child or student? Considering purchasing one as an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device but unsure if your child will “take to it” – and which voice output app to purchase? Set up an appointment at the clinic by calling 773-988-0820 to schedule a visit! We’ll show you the best of what’s out there and try apps with your child – and you’ll get our recommendations in writing.

Workshops: Bring us to your school, clinic, or organization for one of our popular “I Have an iPad…Now What?” workshops where we share everything from our favorite tried and true apps to tips on using them with kids – plus peripherals like styluses, paintbrushes, and the best cases for kids! For information on where we will be presenting to the general public next, watch this board. And if you’d like to have us come to you, call us at 773-988-0820 to schedule.

Outside Chicago?

In addition to using these terrific apps with our own clients, we are committed to sharing current information about technology with interested families, clinicians, and teachers around the world.

Readers can find our useful, up-to-the-minute information in many online locations today!

Here’s where to go:

1. Facebook Pages – Be part of the fun! “Like” the Communication Therapy and Chicago PLAY Project pages, where we share relevant information on a regular basis.

2. Facebook Group – Join our Facebook group! iPad Apps and Info for Kids with Special Needs. With over 200 members in just a week, this group is bustling!

3. Pinterest – Sometimes words aren’t enough – we like pictures, too! Follow the Communication Therapy PInterest boards, where you’ll get visuals of our favorite peripherals, apps, and even upcoming iPad App workshops!

4. Twitter – Communication Therapy has nearly 900 Twitter followers at this time – follow us and you’ll see why! We share great articles and other important information related to AAC, iPads, Autism, and Speech Language Therapy.

5. iPad Apps for Autism: A Spreadsheet of Reviews and Recommendations – Created by Shannon Des Roches Rosa with review contributions by Corina Becker and Communication Therapy’s Jordan Sadler, the Spreadsheet was noted in the New York Times Gadgetwise blog as one of the best sources of excellent apps online!

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