App Review: PEEP Where’s Quack?

As a speech-language pathologist, I individualize my treatment plan for each child.  For example, some children are more motivated by outdoor play whereas others might be more interested in books or structured games.  One tool that I have added to my bag of tricks over the last few years is an iPad.  With iPads and similar devices becoming more and more commonplace, many of the children I work with have access to a tablet and most of them show a lot of interest in them.


I have downloaded a wide variety of apps and have developed a list of favorites that I would like to share.  I plan to review one of my favorite apps each month to give parents and caregivers ideas for making their child’s screen time more beneficial.  This list consists of apps that are free or inexpensive and can be beneficial to different ages and skill levels.  My favorite apps are ones that all children could benefit from.  Please note, however, that an iPad or other tablet is NOT a necessary requirement for developing speech and language skills.  Please read my reviews as supplemental suggestions to the real-life experiences that your child is already learning from.

Where's Quack?

PEEP Where’s Quack? by WGBH is an app that I was introduced to by the Smart Apps for Special Needs blog.  (I highly recommend this blog!  It is where I have found many of the apps on my favorites list.)  It is a rather simple app in which two animated characters play a game of hide-and-seek.  The hidden character, Quack, calls out periodically to encourage the listener to use the sound of his voice to determine his hiding place.  Touch a location (a tree, a doghouse, a pile of leaves, etc.) and if Quack is not there, another creature emerges.  When you find Quack, a new game automatically begins in a new scene.  There is a total of four scenes and Quack hides in new places each time.

While playing this app with your child, you will foster development of several communication skills such as:


  1. Understanding and answering where questions – Ask your child, “Where’s Quack?” while holding the screen in sight, but out of his/her reach.  Encourage your child to tell you a location such as “Tree!” or “Slide!” or, in older children, “Behind the tree!” and “Under the slide!”
  2. When your child names a location, allow him or her to touch that location and see what animal emerges.  Ask, “Is that Quack?” to work on yes/no questions.
  3. When an animal comes out of a hiding spot ask, “Who is that?” to work on answering who questions and foster vocabulary development.  The app includes some less-common animals such as hummingbirds and raccoons in addition to easier vocabulary.
  4. If your child is not responding to your questions, you can still ask and provide simple answers as models.  For example, “Where’s Quack?…Behind tree?… No!…Porcupine!”


Although your child may enjoy independent play with Where’s Quack, he or she will receive little to no language stimulation unless an adult is participating as well and maintains control over the screen.  You can continue to foster the development of the skills practiced in Where’s Quack with these extension activities:


  1. Play hide-and-seek with your child.  Depending on his or her developmental level, they might benefit from having a hiding partner (sibling or another parent, etc.).  Talk about places you’re looking (e.g., “Is she under the bed?”) and even ask, “Where are you?” to see if your child can label his or her location.
  2. Play hide-and-seek using your child’s toys.  Give your child directions for where to hide each toy (e.g., “Put the train in the drawer.”) or if your child wants to hide the toys on his or her own, you can ask, “Where is the __________?”  Your child will love being in charge!
  3. For older children, make the hide-and-seek game more of a scavenger hunt.  Hide pieces of a favorite game or activity (e.g., train tracks) around the house.  Give clues (verbal or written) that include location words (e.g., behind, between, beneath, above, etc.).  After your child has found all the necessary pieces, play the game or do the activity together.


Theresa Sonderman, M.A., CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist at Marian Hope

A Touching Story of Generosity

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This last December, we were approached by a Marian Hope family who wanted to “give back.”  They felt that they had been so blessed over the last year and wanted to share with another family whose child was struggling to communicate.  They generously donated funds to purchase an iPad and communication app (Proloquo2Go) for a child with apraxia of speech.  They shared their story with us:
Our son E. has been receiving speech therapy at Marian Hope for about two years. He was a typically developing child up until he was about a year old, then we realized he was “losing” words and was no longer gaining any new words. We consulted his pediatrician and we were told it was probably normal and that some kids don’t talk until they are older. Other people told us it was because he is the baby of the family and his siblings spoke for him, or that he was just stubborn.
We found out shortly after E. turned 2 that it was not normal that he was losing words, and that he was not just stubborn. We discovered E. had something called apraxia of speech. In short, this means that the connections between his brain and his mouth kind of short circuit, or get jumbled. So, E. knew what he wanted to say but his brain was unable to communicate it to his mouth so that he could tell us.
The staff at Marian Hope got E. started right away with the therapy he needed, and in the last two years he has made more gains than we had ever thought possible. He went from having 3 words to being able to speak in full sentences. In addition, we have seen his sweet personality and wonderful sense of humor emerge.
While E. still has some hallmarks of apraxia, we celebrate every gain he makes and we are very thankful for the services he has received through Marian Hope.
Not every child with apraxia has it as easy as E. Some children require the use of technology, such as an iPad, to help them communicate. The problem is that iPads are expensive, especially for a family raising a child with special needs. That’s why my family decided to create an iPad fund through Marian Hope.
I know what it’s like to be that mama whose child is crying out of frustration because he can’t ask for what he wants, and my heart breaks for other parents going through the same thing.
So, this Christmas, we asked family and friends to consider buying less for our children, and to donate to the iPad fund so that we could give a child a “voice” for Christmas. Within a short period of time, one iPad was fully funded!
It is our hope to continue funding the iPad program as long as we possibly can, and that others would consider contributing as well. As Marian Hope grows and provides services to more children, the need for more iPads will surely grow as well.
We are so thankful to have Marian Hope and we are blessed to be able to help give something in return for all they have done for us, and for E.!
Obviously, we were so touched by this family’s comments and generosity.  We easily found a child who would benefit from their donation.  It was wonderful to see the tearful look of gratitude in their eyes when we told his parents the exciting news.  We hope that this donation will improve their lives and will help their son to make even more progress in therapy.  We asked them to share a little of their story as well:
Before we went to Marian Hope Center it felt as if we were losing our son. He would stare off in a daze, had poor eye contact, wasn’t talking, would often seek to be alone, wouldn’t let most people touch him and was always pretty irritated. After taking him to MHC we immediately saw improvement. We met with their nutritionist who gave us invaluable information about a gluten free/casein free diet and supplements. After changing his diet we immediately saw improvement in all areas he had previously struggled in. Once he started therapy at MHC he went from not talking to saying, “Ready, set, go!”, “down”, “all done” and has mimicked other words his therapists have said on numerous occasions. He went from a child who would not tolerate touch to a child that now reaches out for his therapist’s hand to guide him. This happened after only 2 months of therapy and changing his diet! We are beyond grateful for The Marian Hope Center and the amazing people who work there!
We are so grateful to be blessed with such amazing families at Marian Hope!  We have collected several inspirational stories over the years that you can read here and here.  To contribute to fund a communication device or therapy services for a child in need, please visit our Donation page or email Heather Ruoff.


Generous Contributions Increase Technology

We feel so blessed.

BIG changes are happening in 2013 for the Marian Hope Center. We are constantly re-evaluating the services we provide to help us best meet the needs of our community. You may have heard about one of our recent changes on local television stations – click here to see us KCTV5 and click here for KSHB 41 Action News’s story. We recently received two generous contributions from corporations to expand our use of technology to enhance our therapy services.

Marian Hope Center was the recipient of a $10,000 contribution from Lucity Inc. and a $5,000 contribution from AT&T. We want to provide the children we service with the best therapies possible to help them reach their great potentials. These contributions are amazing blessings as the varying needs of the children in our community are great. Here are some of the main ways tablets are changing the lives at Marian Hope:

  • Providing a voice – Many children have amazing gifts but cannot communicate their thoughts with voice. The use of tablets at our center has been an alternative communication for some of our children. We have seen kids greet their friends, join in singing familiar songs, and request certain foods during snack time using tablets and other augmentative communication devices.  Technology has given them a voice that they otherwise would not have.
  • A unique therapy tool – tablets are used as a tool that can help with auditory processing, visual processing, fine motor skills, handwriting, turn taking, sharing, problem solving, expressive language, speech, and so much more.
  • Motivating children – Most children seem drawn to the tablets.  We are able to download apps to customize activities to incorporate the child’s interests.
  • Anyone can do it! – Technology has been a part of our therapy sessions for a while now, so what makes the tablets different?  They can be operated with a single touch and we have seen children with motor impairments successfully participate with a tablet.
  • Improved record keeping – We can’t lie.  Technology is making our paperwork easier too.  This will allow us to spend more time developing therapy activities and consulting with parents.  It will also help us to share information about a child’s progress more easily and quickly with his or her parents and school.

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Here’s what our therapists are saying about the difference the tablets are making at Marian Hope Center:

“In our vision class, the skills we work on include eye teaming, visual perception, and scanning. We have some children that are not able to scan and use both eyes together for more then 5 seconds. The tablets have allowed us to download games and activities that are fun and exciting for the children. The kids will play a game/activity while increasing the above skills without even knowing that they are working. It’s a win-win situation. The kids get to do a rewarding and we get progress towards our goals!” – Occupational Therapist

“The tablets have helped my clients learn to communicate more effectively. They have also helped motivate my clients to learn and understand language better.” – Speech-Language Pathologist

“I was in the middle of a session with my client and needed an activity which would work on 3 areas at once.  As we began to transition, I suddenly remembered that I now had tablet we could utilize.  My client loved it and worked harder!” – Occupational Therapist
“I was thrilled to see a client with apraxia so motivated to use his best speech while utilizing the speech-to-text feature!” – Speech-Language Pathologist
To AT&T and Lucity, we are very thankful for your support. Thanks for helping us change lives!