In the wake of recent news articles espousing a position that speech-language therapy can be implemented at home through apps and other forms of technology, many parents may wonder, Do I really need to bring my child to the clinic? The answer is: YES!
Apps and other activities can be helpful to supplement and support individualized intervention. However, they should not be used as a substitute for one-on-one speech-language therapy. Oftentimes speech-language pathologists (SLPs) will incorporate apps into therapy sessions to serve as motivators and to provide new materials.
See below for the top 5 reasons that direct speech-language therapy is best:
1) Individualized approach: Direct intervention conducted by a licensed SLP is tailored specifically to each child’s individual needs. Clinicians determine each child’s goals and create treatment plans to target these goal areas. Apps rely on a “one size fits all” approach, and while that may be helpful for some children, others will continue to struggle. If children, for example, are working on an /r/ sound, apps won’t teach the various ways to make an /r/, they will provide word lists and sentences for practice. A licensed SLP can determine which manner of production works best for an individual child and then use apps to create word lists.
2) Diagnostics: SLPs evaluate every new child prior to starting therapy. This process may assess speech, language, or both, in order to determine areas of need. Parents may not be aware of typical speech and language milestones and at what ages they should be concerned. A thorough evaluation conducted by an SLP can outline a course of treatment and determine goals for therapy sessions.
3) App selection: With millions of apps available, it can be daunting to pick the best apps to target specific goal areas. Incorporating apps out of the clinic to increase carryover of skills can be a great way to practice target words in a fun and motivating manner. In order to ensure that apps are appropriate and target areas of need, an SLP can provide families with suggestions and explicit instructions on how to use them. For example, apps for articulation are often broken down by sound into initial, medial, and final positions. If a child is working on initial /s/ at the word level (e.g., sea, soup, sink, sand, etc.), it may be too challenging to practice /s/ sounds at the sentence level (e.g., Sally sells scissors at the sea).
4) Feedback & cueing: During sessions SLPs are constantly modeling appropriate production or language for clients to imitate. When clients, for example, produce a distorted /s/, SLPs are able to provide verbal, visual or even tactile cueing to help with accurate tongue placement. This feedback ensures that children don’t practice sounds in error, further hindering progress.
5) Expertise: SLPs are master’s-level educated individuals who work with children (and adults) to improve communication. SLPs are licensed both by the state in which they practice and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). This expertise allows children to receive evidence-based treatment and helps to educate parents throughout the therapy process.
The benefits of combining technology into therapy sessions and supervised home programs are immense. Apps and other technologies can serve to motivate children, track progress, and provide accessible ways for parents to help build skills!
Click here for a list of great speech and language apps to supplement your in-clinic therapy service!