Writing TherAppy – App Review

Writing TherAppy – App Review

The iMums (one of my favourite reviewers) reviewed Writing TherAppy by Tactus Solutions.

The App is designed by a speech – language therapist for people with impaired written expression abilities. This includes adults with brain injury as well as children learning to spell. Grace (an iMum) reported “recently I found an unlikely spelling app that will help my 5 year old progress from his cutesy beginner spelling apps to handling future spelling dictation in a formal school setting.”

Developer: Tactus Therapy Solutions Ltd.

Price: $19.99







Writing TherAppy has 4 learning modes and each has 3 levels of difficulty

Fill-In-The-Blank – the spelling word has 1 or 2 missing letters (depending on level of difficulty) and the student has to select the missing letter(s) from a limited choice or all the letters of the alphabet.

Copy – move the letters into the appropriate blank spaces to copy the word given.

Spell What You See (Naming) – spell the name of the pictured noun.  You can hear the word by touching the picture.

Spell What You Hear (Dictation) – spell the spoken word without any pictorial clue.

There are also hints on each level to allow success on each trial.

The spelling words are categorized into 12 categories: animals, body parts, clothing, colours, concepts, food, furnishings, numbers, objects, people, places and sports.  The categories can be edited and custom spelling words can be added so that the child can practice spelling words given by the school.

App Review Checklist & Rating Chart: Total Score   /20

Speech/Language/Education Apps



Content is appropriate 1
No in app purchases required for use 1
Help/tutorial Available 1
Students can launch and navigate in the app independently 1
App is fairly priced and/or comparable to other similarly priced apps 0


App can be customized for different users 0
App can be used for single user or groups 0
Content/data can easily be exported 1
User data is saved from session to session 0


Design graphics/sounds are appealing 1
App is interactive, engaging & motivating for user 0


App is designed to target speech/language skills 0
App is designed to target auditory processing – phonemic awareness 0
App can be adapted to target speech/language skills 1
App encourages critical thinking and higher level language 1
App has good potential for interaction between user and therapist 1
Response to errors is specific and results in improved performance 1
Targeted skills are practiced in an authentic learning environment 0
App offers complete flexibility to alter settings to meet students needs 1
App can be used across a variety of age/developmental groups  1

Total 12/20 points

Star Rating

5 Stars 17 – 20 points

4 Stars 13 – 16 points

3 Stars 9 -12 points

2 Stars 5 – 8 points

1 Star 0 -4 points


App Strengths
  • A British or American accent is an option in the settings which is great for our South African children. The sound quality is crisp and clear.
  • Self –checking is encouraged because the student is encouraged to tap the “Check” button in order to submit his answers.
  • The “hints” allow the student to go down to a lower level of difficulty whenever he needs additional help. There are two types of “hints”, depending on an activity’s chosen level of difficulty:  one is that it removes several foils and narrows the student’s letter options down.  Tapping on the Hint button can also put a letter in the first box of the target word, cueing the user with what letter the word starts with.
  • The Written Naming is an excellent activity to work on word retrieval
  • The Spell What-You-Hear allows the student to replay the word as often as he wants. The therapist/teacher can be alerted to auditory discrimination difficulties.
  •  Upper or lower case letters can be used.
  • You can adjust the settings starting from 10 trials and you can adjust the word difficulty based on length of the word.
  • Because the words are categorized into themes, it promotes good interaction between the therapist and client and allows for development of categorization and language skills.
  • You can create customized spelling lists that are specific to the student. (There is a downside to this)


 Areas for improvement
  • The app does not allow for data storage and transfer from session to session
  • Although you can grade the word in terms of number of letters in the word, you cannot adjust the word according to phonemic difficulty and the app would be far more valuable to children with spelling/auditory processing difficulties.
  • The Fill-In-The-Blank activity takes out random letters. An option for taking out specific letter positions would allow better customization to a child’s difficulty level.
  • Although the Written Naming can be used to work on word retrieval, by tapping the picture, the word is revealed. Phonemic (sound) cueing or a grapheme (letter) cue would add a therapeutic dimension to this activity.
  • It does not allow you to make a customized list without adding a picture. This is a problem especially if you are using your child’s spelling list
  • Although the pictures are clear and realistic, the children that I have used it with were not engaged or motivated by this app.
  • Even though there is quantity (in terms of the number of words), I feel that the price is a bit steep for what it offers.

I feel that this App is probably great for the children who are learning to spell and have no underlying difficulties or for adults who have had a brain injury.

However, for children who have auditory perceptual difficulties or difficulty learning to spell, the lack of gradation is a problem and I feel that it is rather expensive as a “Naming App.”

If you have found a useful spelling app, I would really like to know about it.

How do language difficulties affect learning?

How do language difficulties affect learning?

Language is the primary medium of learning. Everything we are expected to learn is either heard or read. Our skills are demonstrated through words or written language.

Language-based learning disabilities are problems with age-appropriate reading, spelling, and/or writing.

It is therefore not surprising, that language difficulties can interfere with academic performance. Language is not just another subject at school; it is the means by which all other subjects are learned.

The vast majority of children with learning disabilities have a language-based disorder which is amenable to treatment.

The following difficulties may suggest that a child has language difficulties:

  • Expressing ideas clearly, as if the words needed are on the tip of the tongue but won’t come out. What the child says can be vague and difficult to understand (e.g., using unspecific vocabulary, such as “thing” or “what-ya-ma-call-it” to replace words that cannot be remembered). Filler words like “um” may be used to take up time while the child tries to remember a word.


tip of the tongue


  • Learning new vocabulary that the child hears and/or sees (e.g., in books)
  • Understanding questions and following directions that are heard and/or read
  • Recalling numbers in sequence (e.g., telephone numbers and addresses)
  • Understanding and retaining the details of a story’s plot or a classroom lecture
  • Reading and comprehending material
  • Learning words to songs and rhymes
  • Telling left from right, making it hard to read and write since both skills require this directionality.
  • Learning the alphabet
  • Mixing up the order of letters in words while writing
  • Mixing up the order of numbers that are a part of maths calculations
  • Spelling
  • Memorizing the times tables
  • Maths difficulties particularly “word sums”
  • Telling time

Oral and written language impairments are easier to identify because they can be heard or seen. However children who have difficulty processing language present more of a challenge.

These are the children who “fly under the radar” because their language difficulties are more subtle.

The following table adapted from Elizabeth Walcot-Gayda, Ph. D., Montreal, QC www.ldhope.com shows how these difficulties may manifest.


Examples of some cognitive manifestations of underlying language difficulties

Impairments in processes related to:





Language Processing

Difficulties in processing sarcasm or understanding when someone is joking Difficulty taking another’s perspective Difficulties in understanding: long or complex sentence structure; and with figures of speech Difficulties with: retrieving vocabulary words; orally presented task demands Difficulties with new vocabulary and responses to teacher-directed questions

Phonological processing

Sounds in words (e.g. bat/bag) are confused; poor sound sequencing in words; limited automaticity in decoding Difficulty with comprehension of content caused by lack of fluency in decoding Difficulty retaining sound/symbol correspondence Difficulty extracting essential concepts due to focus on decoding

Processing speed

Poor social interactions; does not keep up with fast-paced lessons Few connections between isolated bits of information in texts Slow linking of new with previously learned information Less material covered or takes extra time and much effort to cover material


Few strategies when trying to remember content or concepts Difficulty writing since spelling may not be automatic Difficulty retrieving previously learned information Forgets spelling words after test; difficulty recalling significant events in history; any new learning is difficult


Difficulty knowing when to pay attention Poor reading of social situations; impulsive Poor concentration when putting ideas together Little effort expended for remembering Work may be disorganized; goes off on tangents,

Executive functions (planning or decision making)

Poor recognition of value of planning; impulsive Difficulty problem solving and understanding consequences of decisions Difficulty in linking new with previously integrated knowledge; Few strategies Difficulties in higher levels of learning, but has isolated pieces of knowledge


Most (but not all) children with underlying language disabilities DO NOT simply outgrow their problems.

It is not worth the “wait and see” approach only to find out that a small problem has become a bigger one that affects learning, literacy, social-emotional development and eventual vocational adjustment.