During traditional speech therapy, it can sometimes be difficult to keep young children focused. Heidi and Chris Hanks decided they would make an engaging speech app that would be fun for children. Their journey began in 2010 when they purchased a new iPod Touch to help entertain their children while traveling to Disneyland.
Heidi Hanks is a speech language pathologist who started her own private practice, Little Bee Speech, in 2004. When she first examined the iPod touch she was impressed with the potential it had to help in working with children with special needs. Over the course of the trip to Disneyland, she and her husband talked a lot about how she could get her program on a device like the iPod to help children with speech issues. As a result, they developed an app that played on the site, sounds, and touch senses to keep children fully engaged.
She tested it with her patients and noticed that the children were immediately more engaged and there was a reduced need for external reinforcers to keep them motivated. Where children had previously used only about 20 target words, they were able to now say 100 target words. Thanks to the, they were making it more progress at a faster rate.
Because of the success of that first application, the team has now released four applications: Articulation Station, Articulation Station Pro, Articulation Test Center and Articulation Quick Screener.
The articulation app is free, but it comes with a single sound program. Anyone who needs more than one of those sound programs can purchase additional ones starting at $4.00. The option to buy individual sound packets was included some parents could only spend the amount they needed to cover with their child needs. The free version of the app can be used at home for homework practice while the therapist uses the pro version.
The apps have been downloaded all over the world. People in Canada, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Australia are benefiting from what the act has to offer.
The Hanks say they have additional apps coming along in the future, as well as updates for the current apps to keep them as relevant and useful as possible. As of right now, the apps are only available on Apple’s iOS. There is no word about whether or not there are any plans to expand their apps to the Android platform.
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