Speech Therapy and Technology
● By Rick McGarry
My name is Beth Economou and I am writing to you in response to an article in the September 2012 issue. The article I am referencing is titled "Tap to Talk". I enjoyed reading this article and was excited to see that you provided your readers with references to some of the many up and coming technological opportunities for parents to explore as they are so desperately seeking ways to communicate with their child. The iPad has offered many opportunities for these families, as you pointed out in your article, that include social acceptance, portability, affordability and customization. So very true and long over due! Susan Tarr's story was very encouraging and a great message to never give up on finding ways to communicate with your child.
My only concern with the article was the lack of reference to the role of the Speech and Language Pathologist in helping a family to find the right type of communication device or mode for their child. I am a Speech and Language Pathologist that has worked with families and nonverbal students in adaptive and alternative communication needs. There are many factors to consider when choosing a communication device for a non-verbal child and a Speech and Language Pathologist should play a significant role in helping a family navigate through those factors including a hierarchy of language development, precursory skills necessary for accessing a device (physical or cognitive) and a plan for executing such a skill. Although access to many of the systems and apps available are more affordable, I have observed families purchasing fairly expensive systems that their child may be able to use in the future, however are not ready for at the time of purchase. I have also observed families purchasing many different apps in search of something that works however the means of navigating the systems are so varied that the child becomes confused, slowing the learning process and ultimate goal of effective communication.
There are many avenues in which a family can obtain the services of a Speech and Language therapist (the school system, insurance and private pay). No matter which mode they decide on or have access to the Speech and Language Therapist should be actively involved in assisting that family, working side by side, in finding what works for their child.
Communication is something that we take for granted when we are able to so freely participate. One of the sweetest moments in life is to have your child express their love to you - whether it be in a voice, a picture or a gesture.
I have recently opened a professional therapy center for children with communication and sensory challenges in Hartland, serving families in Livingston and surrounding counties.
Thank your for your time and the resource you provide to your readers! Atlhough my children are fairly grown (23, 15, 13) I still enjoy reading your publication and have for many years! It is a wonderful resource for family fun, a wealth of information and helps to build community among your readers! Anyone with questions who would like more information on Speech and Language Pathology please feel free to contact me at your convenience.