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  • Writer's pictureKatia Burdick

Does Virtual Speech Therapy Even Work?

Post COVID, we are all ready for less screens and more in-person interactions. However, the pandemic opened up a whole new world of virtual speech therapy.

  1. Is virtual speech therapy effective? My opinion is YES…but also NO.

  • YES: Once children have reliably established the production of a sound, teletherapy is an easy switch. Working on sounds at the word, phrase, sentence, and conversational levels can easily be targeted on a computer. In fact, I have seen some children do BETTER with this approach, as they are focused on the screen and can also see a video of themselves while they are speaking. This serves as a visual prompt and teaches them to increase their awareness of their own productions. The goal of articulation therapy is to get as many repetitions as possible– which works equally as well over the computer. Virtual speech can also offer shorter sessions multiple times per week, which can increase progress.

  • NO: At the beginning, harder speech sounds tend to benefit from in-person facilitation. This tends to be true for the /s/ sound, which is hard to see in the mouth. The /r/ sound can go either way, depending on how well a child can control their tongue. It’s also not a good fit for children who cannot sit and attend for an extended period of time. Teletherapy is effective for parent coaching and teaching caregivers how to elicit language, but isn’t for toddlers or busy preschoolers.

2. Is it BORING? No!

  • There are awesome virtual materials to engage children!

  • The right speech-language pathologist will amp up the energy to connect with the child across the screen.

3. What are the PROS?

  • No wasted car time or extra gas money.

  • No venturing out in bad weather.

  • No germs. Bonus- kids can still have their session when a sibling or parent is ill.

4. What are the CONS?

  • A reliable internet connection is important.

  • A laptop or iPad with a microphone and video camera are required.

  • There can be distractions at home (siblings, dogs, toys). Finding a private, quiet location is necessary!

5. Can I just get an app or watch YouTube?

  • The most important thing is REAL-TIME feedback from a qualified professional. Watching a video and then practicing speech sounds is not the same thing as having a SLP instructing your child in the moment. It is worse to practice WRONG than not at all. It will further cement bad habits and make it more frustrating to fix.

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