Conversation Coach is an app developed to help teach kids with autism how to have reciprocal conversations by asking appropriate questions, making comments and listening. The app basically compares a conversation to a game of pass with a ball. In conversation, users pass a ball back and forth the length of the iPad indicating the passing of each conversational turn. The app comes with a variety of conversation scripts with varying degrees of support. For example, some conversations include visually represented multiple-choice responses, while others do not have this level of support. The app feels a bit like a cross between a communication device and a conversational tool. It specifically targets two-way conversations for students with significantly impaired conversational skills. For my particular group of students, the conversations are too highly structured to address their level of need. I tried out this app in the last few weeks in therapy and allowed my students to “be the teacher” by building their own conversation around a topic of interest relevant to 4th and 5th grade boys. I told them that I needed their help and expertise to build a conversation that I could share with younger students. Their objective was to generate appropriate comments, questions and follow up remarks related to the selected topics. This process brought up a rich discussion around how to refine comments and questions to make them a bit more appropriate and why. Unfortunately, at the end of the lesson, I was unable to get our conversations to play back (1 comment/question a turn + passing the ball back and forth) in the same way the scripted conversations on the app did. There are definitely teaching points that can be hit using this app but I can’t recommend it for the cost given my group of students and the limitations of the app.
- Highly visual
- Offers a variety of scripted conversations
- Allows users to create personalized conversations including personalized photos
- Somewhat difficult to navigate and learn
- Expensive ($79.99)
- Fairly limited ways of using the app for specific student needs.
- Scripted conversations (and topic material) would be difficult to make appropriate or applicable for all students. (“Where did you go on vacation? Disneyland”)
- I couldn’t figure out how to create personalized conversations that function the same way as the scripted conversations (show one statement/question each turn rather than the entire dialogue). Definitely could have been user error.
- Doesn’t target my student population.
RECOMMENDED: NO (If you have a student who is using a device to help them communicate, I can see how this app would support social interaction and turn taking.)
Note: I was provided with a free promotional code by the developer for this app for review purposes. I received no compensation to write this post.