ConversationBuilder

App review by
ADK AccessAbility, Common Sense Media
ConversationBuilder App Poster Image
Great practice for kids who struggle with social exchanges.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn how to have conversations with peers in many social settings. They learn to initiate conversations, respond in conversations, and participate in group discussions. In guided turn-taking, they learn to introduce themselves, ask questions, and sustain conversations and when or where not to change the subject. For kids on the autism spectrum, the implied safety and guaranteed success of interacting with a device first and then later practicing the same skills with peers may be just the steps they need to participate more easily in daily​ social arenas. ConversationBuilder can give a boost to kids who need help with peer interactions.

Ease of Play

ConversationBuilder has a video tutorial built in that models all aspects of the app from setting up for initial use to creating and managing group conversations. It takes very little time for an adult to learn the controls, and kids need only choose buttons relating to the initiation of or response to a conversation and then record that response. The controls are easy to set, and the microphone setup works seamlessly. Kids' conversations are stored in the archives so kids and parents can see how many conversations have been successfully completed and replay them as well. ConversationBuilder keeps track of how many conversations were finished in each topic area, so it's easy to select areas that need more practice or to quickly change to other topics.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

A small button links to ConversationBuilderTeen in the App Store.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that ConversationBuilder is designed to help kids have multiple-exchange conversations with their peers in many typical social situations. Kids who are on the autism spectrum often have trouble having conversations with peers and with others. Using this tool for practice helps them rehearse, learn from mistakes, and ultimately have successful, multi-step conversations within the format of more than 100 included scripts and more that parents or therapists can  customize. Kids who can access a device with a touchscreen can be mostly independent in participating in the conversations. Kids who are blind or who have motor disabilities can still access this app with help in selecting the correct answer and recording. Kids who are nonverbal can select the correct choice; someone else or a communication device can provide a voice for them.

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What's it about?

Kids practice conversations with virtual peers in typical social situations. Given a photo of a social setting, they pick one of three sentences that would be most appropriate socially, record it, listen to a response, and continue through the conversation in the same way with up to eight exchanges. When kids select the right answer, a green record button pops up under the photo, and the correct sentence is left alone above the photo. Kids record the sentence, and then they have the option of listening to their voices or going to the next set of sentences. Conversation topics include a base conversation module, animals, friends around town, holidays, playground, water, and winter.

Is it any good?

The modules in CONVERSATIONBUILDER are very appealing and easy to use. Kids like the bright photos and the feedback of their recorded conversations. They interact with the device and with each other when it's used in a group, so there's more social learning going on than conversation alone.

In addition to the built-in modules, you can set up customized conversations for kids. You'll make a list of the kids who will be practicing and note who will start the conversation. Then choose to use the app's stock photos or to import your own to further customize the experience or to add some of the diversity that the app's included photos lack. Kids take turns recording their parts of the conversation related to the photo. They can replay what has been recorded at any time. Parents or therapists will want to replay each conversation and help kids analyze whether it was successful and why or why not.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about transitions. Create a group conversation with family members describing a difficult transition that is both conversation and social story.

  • Practice a conversation one-on-one with kids and then construct a similar conversation without the device to help generalize the skill.

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