Telespeech can benefit patients with a wide range of speech and language conditions, disorders, and disabilities. A huge number of studies conducted over many years have shown that testing and therapy that can be administered by a speech-language professional in face-to-face interaction can be as effectively handled with distance communication, especially given modern technology like tablet-style computers with touchscreens and targeted SLP programs. Speech and language problems can disrupt education and diminish the quality of a child’s life. Telespeech has proven particularly successful in the following areas:
- Articulation and Phonological Processes. Speech sound disorders include problems with making sounds correctly and with processing sound patterns.
- Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is characterized by the inability to focus or pay attention combined with hyperactivity-impulsivity.
- Autism spectrum disorders interfere with social skills and make normal communication difficult or impossible, depending on the severity of the condition. Symptoms can vary widely.
- Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) makes forming words and sounds difficult due to an inability to send the signals from the brain to the necessary muscles.
- Cleft palate is a birth defect usually corrected by surgery during early childhood. Children with a cleft palate need help learning to form sounds correctly.
- Dysarthria affects the ability to move the muscles of the mouth, face, and respiratory system. Children with this disorder are often victims of a head injury, cerebral palsy, or muscular dystrophy.
- Elective mutism is when a child refuses to speak in a specific setting, like a classroom, but can and does speak in other situations.
- Orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMD) causes the tongue to thrust forward in an exaggerated when the patient attempts to speak or swallow, making it difficult to form certain sounds.
- Stuttering is a common problem that causes disfluencies in the normal flow of speech. Stutterers might choose not to speak rather than risk embarrassment.
Telespeech therapy can address speech and sound formation with corrective therapy sessions and practice at home. The use of technology is helpful to engage children, even those with attention deficit problems and elective mutism, where the attraction of colorful interactive programs on a tablet computer, like an iPad, can help the child focus and offer an ability to participate in a less pressured setting than direct communication with other people. School can be intimidating for children with a condition that makes them different, and the use of iPads and other “cool” new technologies holds an irresistible fascination for nearly every kid that helps break down communication barriers and inspires the child to enthusiastically participate in his own therapy. Telespeech therapists who embrace new technologies will find a wide range of low-cost, engaging, and user-friendly programs that exist primarily to help their patients build communication, speech, and language skills.