New tech tools allow speech therapy for kids at home

New tech tools allow speech therapy for kids at home

(NPN/RNN) - Perfect pronunciation can be a tough skill for a growing child to master, but instead of facing years of speech therapy, some children are facing computer or tablet screens to correct their speech more quickly.

Even as some parents sing the praises of the new technology, therapists are vocal about potential drawbacks.

William Brown uses the same iPad he plays games on to work on pronunciation during sessions with his speech language pathologist.

"It's been really helpful as a parent," Lisa Brown said. "I can have him sit down at the counter as I'm fixing dinner, and I can listen to him and hear that he's doing it correctly."

Dan Smith is with Complete Speech, which makes the Smart Palate mouth device William uses with his therapist.

Smith said the increase of at-home tools is due to demand.

"Parents have approached us more and more to be able to use this technology," Smith said. "We've developed tools that allow the parents to practice with their students, with their children, accurately at home."

The popularity of the iPad has generated an explosion of speech therapy apps. Experts say applications like Articulation Station and Yowelviz encourage kids to practice because they're more like interactive games than static flashcards.

"It helps them to stay focused on something that requires a lot of drill and a lot of practice in order for them to get better with their articulation skills," speech language pathologist Kimberly Jasensky said.

Colleen Mitchell, who works with William, points out the extra practice at home can help therapy to progress faster.

"It does make it a little bit easier, and it does take away some of the time that we initially had to work on therapy, but it doesn't take away from just the good old traditional hard work," Mitchell said.

Mitchell said that work should start in the traditional therapy session and advises parents considering at-home tools to work with a speech language pathologist.

"There are certain steps that need to happen through therapy," according to Mitchell. "If a client or family, they're not aware of these steps, then what can happen is they can develop habits that are going to actually cause more problems for them in the long run."

As for Brown, she said the new technology helps her son develop good habits by recording and playing back each drill.

"These apps and the technology have played a big part for William in continuing on his progression," Brown said.

The apps range in price from free up to $50, and the Smart Palate mouth device is available for rent to parents for $89 a month.

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