Read on to see my answer to her and the resources I have collected together for those looking to find out more about this new technology for Speech Therapy.
Dear Kathryn ~
I was wondering about your opinion on using an iPad (or a similar computer tablet) as a tool to teach speech. My son has a speech therapist that uses one in therapy sessions and he loves playing with it. She mentioned that we could get a tablet and use free “apps” for games that would help him.
While a computer gadget isn’t really in our budget right now, we would find a way to purchase one if it would truly be beneficial. I have let him play a few computer games on my desktop, so I don’t know an iPad would be of any additional benefit.
Thanks for letting me pick your brain -
My reply to Carol...
That's a really great question and one I would imagine a lot of parents are wondering right now. The Apple iPAD and similar technologies have stormed on to the Speech Therapy Scene in the last year and everyone is talking about the wonders of iPAD Speech Pathology!
At the moment, I don't have an iPAD or any other touchscreen device to use in therapy. I would love to try it but my job does not provide one and my own budget won't stretch that far right now either so I will just have to wait. I'm sure I'm not the only SLP in this position and we managed to help children with their speech long before this kind of technology was available so even though I am a technology enthusiast, I'm not going to be rushing to take out a personal loan to get one of these devices.
If you don't already have one at home, perhaps instead of a laptop computer, at $500 these are an expensive purchase just for Speech Therapy use. Add to this the fact that you are probably going to need to insure it against the accidental damage risk that comes with handing it to a five year old and you are talking about one very expensive piece of kit!
Having said this, the cheap and easy availability of regular apps or applications in place of traditional computer software bring the cost a little more into line with a laptop and computer program but bear in mind that some specialist SLP apps retail at closer to a traditional software price - $29.99 seems to be standard in one popular company.
For a Speechie who works in more than one location, the portability of the device is a big advantage over pulling a plastic crate loaded with books and materials. There is also no getting away from the fact that a computer of whatever kind is often more engaging for students than traditional worksheet based therapy.
I have often used computer software in therapy and with a variety of children of all ages. It is a very useful tool when you have a child who is very hard to engage in therapy and really lacks motivation. They can suddenly become animated and interested when the computer is turned on and join in willingly with your activity.
Speech Therapy by it's very nature relies on having great interaction and rapport between the child and the adult giving the therapy (either the SLP or the parent). The child is engaged in a joint activity with the adult and are learning as they share the activity and talk about it. If an electronic device of any kind is being used, it must be in this same interactive manner with back and forth conversation between the adult and the child. If the child takes the iPAD and "zones out" into the game, the interaction is gone and with it the therapeutic value of the activity.
For this reason I have often found that for most kids, computer based activities are best kept as a reward or motivator to work towards during the session. I would imagine that to be the case with iPAD Speech Pathology sessions where more traditional therapy would be carried out first, followed by a certain time on the iPAD working on a specific app with the therapist.
One way that the iPAD is set to revolutionise Speech Therapy and to bring down the cost for parents of kids with communication needs, is in the area of communication devices or AAC (Alternative Augmentative Communication). Previously these devices were hugely expensive, running at thousands of dollars and work in a very similar way to the iPAD with touchscreen technology. By bringing this touchscreen capability to the mass market this will have a very positive benefit on the availability of these talking computers for children and adults who need a communication device to speak for them.
You don't say in your email, exactly what your Speechie uses the iPAD for with your son so it is hard to say whether or not the money is justified for you. I would try saying something to her like...
"We would love to have this for our son but it isn't something we own already. I've looked into the price and we could stretch to the $500 but it would mean we... (don't get a family vacation / have to pick up some extra hours at work / don't replace the car this year - whatever would genuinely be the case for you), can you tell me what the benefits would be over other ways we could work with him and then we can decide if the cost is worth it?"
Perhaps by having a conversation with her in which you express your willingness to help but make clear the financial implications, you will be able to get a clearer answer directly from your son's Speech Therapist on exactly how essential she feels this is in your own individual case.
Either way, the one thing I can say say categorically without meeting you, is that the biggest gift you can give him is your time and dedication to talking to him, playing with him and finding out what will help him most and I know you are already doing that!
I would love to know what you decide and to hear how the future of iPAD Speech Pathology sessions work out for you, whatever you decide to do about purchasing your own.
With Kind Regards,
PS. For Carol and anyone else looking for resources on the web in realtion to IPad Speech Pathology, I have put together a collection of my favorite resources for you to browse over on Pinterest.
Back from IPad Speech Pathology to more Kids Games for Speech Therapy