Headstart for Life

Using Technology to Help Children with Speech Difficulties

Hi everyone! Welcome to a new year of blog posts from HeadStart for Life! We hope to continue helping you understand your child’s development better. So do keep checking back for fresh posts every other Monday!

As a speech-language therapist, I meet many parents who tell me that their child have a short attention span but can maintain his/her attention for a long time if using a tablet. Given that it is highly recommended to limit the amount of screen time that a child receives each day, can we still use the tablet as a potential tool to support a child’s development?

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The answer is ‘Yes’! If a child has speech/language difficulties and has difficulty maintaining attention on a particular task for a period of time, why eliminate any tools that may help him/her? Of course, technology should never completely replace human interaction and actual toys as a medium to develop speech, language, communication or play skills. However, we can still use technology to help us along the way.

There are a myriad of educational apps available for tablets now and it can be quite hard to choose between them. In this blog post, I am going to share about my favourite app that is targeted towards children with speech issues.

Articulation Station (by Little Bee Speech)

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Photo credit: http://littlebeespeech.com/articulation_station.php

 

About the app:

Articulation station allows for practice of individual sounds in different word positions (the beginning, middle or end of words). Also, you can choose to practice it at a word level, phrase level, sentence level, or in stories.

You can either purchase individual sound programs (price varies for each sound program) or the pro version.

How to use the app:

Practice involves choosing the target sound to practice at different levels. Your speech-language therapist can advise you on the sounds and corresponding levels to practice. For all levels, the words spoken by the child can be recorded for each trial and re-played for immediate feedback. You can also mark each trial with a ‘tick’ or ‘cross’ to keep track of progress.

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Photo credit: http://littlebeespeech.com/articulation_station.php

Tip: I usually encourage my students to try again (with appropriate cues given by adults) if the target was not produced correctly. Then, allow the child to tap on the green tick. This helps to give them a sense of accomplishment.

At the word level, you can choose to look at flashcards (tap on the ‘card’ to hear the word being spoken) or play a matching memory game (by flipping over and looking for corresponding cards). Practice at phrase level varies between randomised 2 word combinations (e.g. her panda/no piano) or 3 word flashcards. Similarly for the sentence level, practice varies between randomised target words within the same sentence (e.g. put the pig/potato/piano in the pink purse) or sentence flashcards. The final level of practice are short stories loaded with the sound that is practiced. They even come with some simple wh- questions at the end!

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Photo credit: http://littlebeespeech.com/articulation_station.php

Do note that this app was not developed locally, hence some words may not be familiar to children in Singapore. Also, some words may be difficult for younger children. As adults, we should always accompany the child during practice to help pick appropriate words and guide them along.

What I love about this app:

  • Sound programs can be purchased individually
  • Various practice levels can be chosen to suit each child’s needs
  • Voice can be recorded for immediate feedback (my students are fascinated with this feature!)
  • Allowing my students to give themselves a ‘tick’ increases motivation

Hope this helps! If you are using any other apps that is helping your child to develop their speech, do leave a comment below!

 

"All the information on this site is for educational purposes only and does not replace the assessment and intervention of a registered speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist or any other medical or education professional."

About Jia Yue

Jia Yue has a keen interest in working with children with special needs, particularly autism spectrum disorders, whose difficulties may include the areas of speech, language, and social skills. She has been working with children with special needs for 2 years and loves to browse through toy stores for new therapy ideas in her free time.

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