How to turn an iPhone game into language therapy

I’d like to explain this concept in terms of an iPhone game called Monkey Diving.

Let me begin by explaining how the game is played (see attached for a video demonstration). At any given time in Monkey diving, there are two monkeys standing on a cliff, waiting to dive into the ocean waves. The player is supposed to touch one of the monkeys, causing the monkey to dive in the water. In mid-air, the player can turn the iPhone to move the monkey in a given direction. This enables the monkey to dive in the deepest part of the wave. The deeper the water he dives in, the more points the player receives. If the monkey hits the rocks, then one of the 5 total monkeys is “lost.” The object of the game is to score as many points as possible, before losing all five monkeys.

Now, let me explain how to turn Monkey Diving into language therapy. I’d like to accomplish this goal by explaining how I did this with a 6-year-old patient, who I will call George. In essence, the language therapy involved making requests. I gave the iPhone to George to start the game, while I modeled verbal requests for George to execute. Using a cloze sentence template (see attached), I made requests such as, “Touch the left brown monkey.” After George completed the game, then it was his turn to make requests for me to execute. We did this for a couple turns each. At times, George required prompting for him to produce sentences that specified the exact monkey.

I think that Monkey Diving lent itself as a perfect language activity for George, who has limited verbal output, long response times, and difficulty producing complete sentences with identifiers (e.g., blue, brown, top, bottom, left, right). The activity enabled George to increase his verbal output, and to respond quickly (before a given monkey dove independently). Plus, George loves monkeys!

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