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Hot Topic Blog - Communication


By Tracy Wannemacher, Speech-Language Pathologist in Chicago, Illinois

May 2016


What an honor to be asked to compose a blog for Ages and Stages®, LLC.  I had the privilege of connecting with Diane and her business recently in a speech-language pathology group.   Diane was kind enough to add one of my passions, Whole Brain Edutainment, to her resource list for parents and professionals.  Whole Brain Edutainment is an app company I co-founded with Antonio Sanders, a video game developer and an artist.  My original idea, secretly hidden at home, was written on sticky notes with the hopes of making my own series of wooden puzzles full of articulation and language learning opportunities.  And, when presented with the opportunity to make an app with my ideas, I said let’s do it!

What do I consider when downloading other apps for my little kiddos who have speech and language delays?  I look at apps much the same way I do toys and books.  What can a child learn from this?  How can this item be used in an effective way to teach something?  One of my biggest peeves is apps that make a lot of sound but do not require the child to think about what he or she is doing to make that sound.  Our apps are based on behavior principles, only providing reinforcement for the correct match of a puzzle piece.  The child has to focus and learn something from the app to be successful.

I think about the art and the presentation of an app, much like I do when thinking about books for kiddos.  Is the app visually too busy?  When an app has a variety of distractions and animations occurring at the same time, it can take away from the learning experience.  Many of the kiddos I see are visual learners, yet they are easily distracted visually within their environments.  Do the pictures look realistic enough to teach a child target vocabulary words?  What is the flow of menu within the app like?

Will the app be engaging and fun so the child wants to interact with the app? We used children’s voices and presented our first apps in the already familiar wooden puzzle format.  One child I currently treat had such significant motor delays he could not complete simple wooden puzzles at age 3.  Following a week of using our app at home, he started to complete puzzles independently.

With today’s market flooded with so many apps, it can be difficult to discern which might be helpful and fun, of course, for your child.  Here are some ideas to consider:


-Learning opportunities,

-User friendliness,

-Limited distractions,


-Carryover activities and

-Credibility of the developer 

If the app has any coinciding opportunities to carryover the learning experience I am in!  What’s on your tablet?


Tracy Wannemacher is a licensed speech-language pathologist with 20-years of experience providing ongoing speech and language therapy. Tracy’s primary background is working with children on the autism spectrum, with childhood apraxia of speech, and with speech and language delays. She was the director of a non-profit agency’s children’s program for 5 years. In January 2009, Tracy became an independent provider of speech-language therapy and formed her own corporation.  She currently resides and practices in the Chicago Suburbs. 

Tracy's Website:

Whole Brain Edutainment 
Speech Apps for Kids