Unlike most of my posts, which are inspired by my experiences in therapy, this app review was inspired by a recent graduate aphasia class where each student discussed a different type of treatment. One of my classmates presented Semantic Feature Analysis (SFA), which involves cueing a client with word-finding difficulties to produce words that are semantically related to the target word. (E.g. if the target word is dog, the client would be prompted to produce what category it is in, what it looks like, what it reminds them of, etc.) So, here’s my thoughts on how the iPad could be incorporated into therapy using this technique.

What It Is: A way to make individualized mind maps by Notion, Inc.

Price: $4.99

Version: 1.8.0

How It Works: The app is set up to make personalized “mind maps”–you know, those bubble diagrams or “spidergrams” you had to make during creative writing class in middle school. (These bubbles are apparently called popplets in this app and are square in shape.) After choosing “make your own popplet,” you are then prompted to name and select a general color scheme for your map. The app then immediately sets you up with one square (bubble/”poppet”), in which you may draw, write, type, or place a picture. You may also change the color of each square. After you are done with that square, tapping it will produce little circles on each side. Tapping on any of these will create another square to which the first square is linked. The squares may be dragged and resized and edited at any time. There appears to be an unlimited amount of squares that may be linked to one single square.

For example, in my map of SFA, I made the theme a pretty pink and used my (not-so-pretty) handwriting to draw a big question mark in the initial square. I then attached six different bubbles to the first bubble and wrote in them the desired words with various colors. If I wanted, I could have attached more bubbles to the outer bubbles (e.g. “color” and “shape” to the bubble “look”). And there I had it, my own pretty, color-coordinated mind map to represent SFA. 🙂 Check out the other one for dog, which utilizes typed text instead of handwriting.

My Therapy Applications: As I mentioned, this review was not inspired by my personal therapeutic use; however, I think it has some great clinical applications. It could be a great way to utilize SFA to assist with word-finding. It takes the concept of SFA and makes it colorful and interactive and physical. Check out an example of this centered around the target dog. I also think this app could be used for other purposes such as family trees to help an individual describe the people who are important to him or her. (The picture feature would be good for this.) In general, these maps really promote mental organization, which can be a challenge for individuals with acquired language disorders and other disabilities.

Pros: 1. Price. While there are some free or slightly cheaper mind-mapping apps out there, they do not compare to this app. It is well worth the $5.

2. Ease of use. I downloaded three other mind-mapping apps before this one and all were frustrating to navigate. Popplet was straightforward and easy to set up. Deleting and editing was simple. Overall creation was intuitive and fluid, and the cognitive load during set-up was low.

3. Customization options. No other app I downloaded (or, at least of the ones I could figure out) had quite as many options as this. Between the ability to change color, add photos, write using your own handwriting, draw, and type, there were a lot of ways to capitalize on a person’s strengths during this exercise. In addition, the other apps I downloaded only allowed you to link four bubbles to a single bubble, which restricted how you could use the app.

4. Exporting options. Emailing and saving these images was quite simple. I could see this being useful for sending home with a client or using for data collection.

5. Lock option. You can lock the map when you’re finished so that you don’t accidentally edit it as you’re viewing the finished product.

6. Storage. You can create seemingly unlimited popplets and they will be saved for future use.

7. Fixing mistakes is easy. One frustration I had with similar apps was that I kept making mistakes and fixing them consumed a lot of my time and cognitive energy. With this app, if you accidentally draw the wrong thing or make an unnecessary popplet, deleting it is simple and intuitive.

Cons: 1. This app/means of word-finding is not going to be for everybody. It may not be too slow of a method for some individuals.

2. You can’t change the shapes of the squares, unlike one of the other apps I downloaded.

The Take-Away: It’s worth the price and FAR better than other similar apps I’ve used. The ease of use and wide variety of options will make for a seamless incorporation into therapy.

My Questions for You: Do you use SFA with individuals you support? Could this app be incorporated into your therapy? What other goals could you address using this app? Would you use it with any other age groups or populations?

Looking for expert reviews of this app? Check it out on YappGuru.com!

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