SENspeller - The Autism Spelling App
SENspeller is an application that helps to teach letter and sound recognition to those on the autistic spectrum. The concept behind the app is to play to the strengths of visual learners.
Created by Penelope Vanderplank, a mother with a boy on the autistic spectrum. This is a useful app for teaching spelling to young learners with autism and other special educational needs. i feel that one of the main benefits of SENspeller is its low arousal interface. The developer has clearly understood the need for this when you compare the app with other more 'busy' screen spelling apps. The lack of distractions such as moving pictures and sounds allow for focus. The app does play to the strengths of visual learners. The images are black and white but are clear and easy to understand. Once a child has correctly spelt a word, the image turns to full colour.
The app has several levels of difficulties for each word group. At Level 1, there are shadows of the letters, indicating where the child should drag and drop them to correctly spell the word. By Level 3, the letters are scrambled, there are no shadows, and there are extra letters not needed for the word.The audio cue is clear throughout and children enjoy hearing the cheers when they are correct. When the user is selecting the letters a child's voice sounds out the sounds and speaks the word once compete.
Probably the best feature of the app is its customisation ability. You can add your own images, record the sounds and add your own word lists. Especially useful for children on the spectrum where you can create words and images based on their own interests. The built in categories 10 in all, contain 10 words each can be added to and also adapted to suit the individual. The app will also allow you store ten profiles at different levels of development and you are allowed to store 200 words at any one time. SENspeller aids you in monitoring the progress of each child’s learning, by giving you access to their gameplay history: Date last played,Topics completed, Individual topic scores, Words yet to be spelled correctly and Current stage reached.
Overall SENspeller is a really clever little app, I do feel that it is a little on the expensive side as there are many other less expensive apps for spelling that do a lot more, but this is a minor complaint. The apps customisable nature as well as the developers understanding of 'less is more' in interface design and the autistic spectrum is a real bonus. Well done Penelope!
From the Developer
SENspeller is a unique and innovative resource targeted at the parents and teachers of children with special educational needs particularly those with non-verbal autism. Its principal focus is to assist children to recognise words and spell them correctly, in an environment that can be customised to suit each child’s individual requirements.
Communication and comprehension can often be limited with children on the autism spectrum.
SENspeller has 3 distinct stages of spelling development, and as a parent you can monitor each child’s progress through the stages. This helps to ensure that your child is learning to spell rather than simply picture and word matching.
Many children on the autism spectrum are visual learners and rely heavily on visual cues to aid their learning.
SENspeller makes the learning experience personal to your child as it allows you to upload your own personal pictures and record your own voice. This ensures that your child can make those all-important literal connections between the words they are trying to learn and the real life object.
For example, the word ‘cat’ would be associated with a real life picture of their pet ‘cat’.
It has also been recognised that many individuals on the spectrum experience some form of sensory sensitivity and have difficulty screening out unwanted stimuli.
SENspeller is low arousal. Removing those colours, sights, sounds and movements that may cause distress, For example, all writing is black on a white background, with no loud music or moving pictures.
SENspeller has the capacity to work with 10 children progressing through different topics and stages, giving each child a unique learning experience.
SENspeller has the capability to store 200 words at any one time. By giving you the ability to edit topics and words, more complex words can be added and learned as a child progresses through their educational stages.
SENspeller gives you the ability to upload your own photos and record your own word sounds. Ensuring a personal link is always made between the photo shown and the word to be learned.
SENspeller aids you in monitoring the progress of each child’s learning, by giving you access to their gameplay history:
- Date last played
- Topics completed
- Individual topic scores
- Words yet to be spelled correctly
- Current stage reached
SENspeller is supplied with:
- 10 common topics which can be edited (Family, Transport, Home, School etc)
- 100 words, 10 per topic which can also be edited (Mummy, Car, Bed, Pencil etc)
- Simple line drawings are provided for each word (to be replaced with a photo)
- A voice recording for each word (which can be re-recorded)
- Voice recordings for each letter of the alphabet
- Voice recordings for successful spelling and completion of stages (which can be toggled on/off