Apps That Make a Difference

As a speech-language pathologist in private practice, I am often asked the question, “What apps or computer programs will help my child?”. My first impulse is always to say that while the child is going through an intensive period of speech-language therapy, the use of any type of screen media should be decreased as much as possible. After all, we are working on communication skills – speaking, listening, reading and writing. The apps or programs I recommend should be used only as supports to reinforce a skill, reward work or practice, or assist with drill and repetition exercises, sometimes helpful for articulation therapy. In some cases, when children have severe communication impairments, the new technological devices  available are the best and most efficacious avenue to communication. For most of the children that I see in therapy with mild-moderate disorders, the Smarty Ears apps are excellent for reinforcing a wide range of communication skills. Additionally, voice record apps provide an easy way for a child to get audio feedback for their speech skills. Timer apps are useful for kids who need to set timers in order work within time limits on speech tasks or on homework assignments.  Facetime and Skype can be used for practicing speech skills with grandparents or other supportive persons in the child’s life. Two of my favorite apps are Speech Tutor and Speech Prompt – both provide excellent visual and audio feedback for children working on articulation and phonological skills.  You can watch demonstrations of most apps on YouTube before making a decision about whether to purchase them.  When chosen well and used appropriately, technology can be another excellent way to enhance communication skills.


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