According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, around 8% of children in the age band of 3-17 years have a voice, speech, or language-related disorder. A great number of children receive speech assistance services at school. With the growing use of digital devices, speech improvement intervention entails targeting children through both online therapy sessions as well as face-to-face in-person interactions.
According to one of the Chicago Speech Therapists, “Speech therapy seems an essential service especially for younger children who experience communication issues. Speech problems come in conflict with a child’s potential to do better in the classroom. Struggling to articulate words correctly could also discourage them, making them shy to interact with others and socialize with friends and peers. Hence, speech therapy must be a primary focus for children as leaving their needs, desires, and feelings untouched could be detrimental to their emotional and mental well-being.”
While we share about how speech impairment could affect the confidence level of children, it’s also pertinent to acknowledge that advanced speech therapy interventions courtesy of advancement in technology is proving to be effective for speech therapists. In this article, we will discuss how technology is reinventing speech-language pathology and speech therapy interventions.
The Effect of Advancement in Technology
With the spread of technology in the digital age, we’re not only able to socialize immediately over applications but can also use these to our advantage in learning communication. One major disruption made by technology is in the domain of language therapy.
Innovative applications for speech therapy have made speech therapy a fun activity. With a focus on client’s needs, speech therapy applications are engaging for the person requiring improvement in their language. Some of the emerging applications for effective speech therapy are Talking Larry and Articulation Station.
Applications Making Speech-Language Learning Easy and Fun
With Talking Larry, parents or teachers, and even speech therapists can help shy young children to learn better communication through effective speech articulation. This application allows users to record their voice and play it in the voice of a cartoon animal.
It’s not only highly engaging for the children but will prove to be an innovative tech to point out speech problems in young children in their earlier years and healthily overcome them.
Another interesting application that boasts about the advancement of technology in speech learning is Articulation Station. This digital app allows caregivers and speech therapists to help children articulate sounds the right way.
Young children who struggle to articulate sounds of letters S, R and Z are helped through tests of different words and their correct sounds. As learners tend to progress, they can also learn sentences and listen to more words to enhance their listening ability.
Digital Technology and Online Speech Therapy
Online speech therapy has proven to be a fantastic choice for parents and caregivers of young children requiring speech therapy during the Covid-19. The social distancing norms encouraged people to move to the digital version of therapy.
Online speech therapy is becoming more and more popular as it is not only cost-effective but also favorable for those who had to travel from remote locations to connect with speech pathologists. In Australia, therapies or devices that assist patients with speech are covered under the NDIS plan, making it convenient for participants to avail themselves of such advancements.
There’s a mountain of evidence backing the benefits of online speech therapy. As far as the effectiveness of online speech improvement interventions is concerned, it is worth knowing that two prominent studies including Kent State University and the Ohio Department of Public Education have reported that online speech therapy is equally effective to traditional, in-person therapy.
The use of technology, especially applications can help to engage children through exciting learning methodologies and help them achieve their communication goals.
Moreover, it has also been found out that online speech therapy could be fruitful to increase caregiver involvement and work with a person-centered focus towards speech improvement. The online therapy programs are not just cost-effective and beneficial to all stakeholders including the client but are also beneficial for the parents.
Parents could play the role of a mediator. Unlike face-to-face interactions where parents had difficulty in visiting the pathologists frequently and monitor their child’s progress, online speech therapy through computers or iPads provide them to interact with the pathologist and play the role of a mediator from the comfort of their home.
Monitoring the progress of the child is also easier. Plus, online speech therapy also adds to the convenience of both parents, caregivers, and Speech-language pathologists. Through the help of digital tech, they can save time commuting and communicate at their convenience.
Flexible scheduling allows parents to pay more attention to their children. Online speech therapy may work perfectly for those living in remote areas or rural localities.
With the inception of machine learning consequent emergence of artificial intelligence, we can say that robots that think, talk, and communicate like humans may appear shortly. Robots are already under development. The robot named Kaspar is an autism-friendly robot, specially designed to communicate with autistic children. It can speak freely and give facial expressions, allowing autistic children to learn normal behavior engagingly. Developing social skills may not seem a burden for children when they interact with an AI-powered robot.
In this article, we’ve highlighted numerous benefits of online speech therapy and how technological advancement is likely to shape speech improvement interventions. Even though online therapy is proving to be highly effective in terms of cost, convenience, and learning, whether it’s more effective than traditional in-person therapy, is yet to be known.
There are plenty of apps proving their potential to enhance learning for those requiring speech pathology. Plenty of apps are also under development. However, it is critical to know that no application, device, or game could be a substitute for human interaction.
The value of in-person therapy sessions is incomparable to online therapy. Though it could be said that advancement in tech could assist those who have limited access to therapy services or it may also be helpful in engaging children.
Do you think technology will completely transform the way speech-language pathologists work these days? Feel free to share your opinion in the comments section below. We’d love to hear back.