“Apps: An Emerging Tool for SLPs” by Jessica Gosnell, MS, CCC-SLP, in the latest issue of the ASHA leader, discusses apps and their use in our field. One of the points she makes is that speech apps should not take the place of an SLP. She may be correct, for now.
There is no doubt that technology has the ability to change the way we provide services and for many of us the change has already begun. Having said that, there is no speech or language app available now (by now I have downloaded about 500) dedicated solely towards remediation of speech or language problems that is a game changer. The speech and language apps that are available are electronic products of the paper materials available through catalogs. The apps are unimaginative and many are costly. This is hugely disappointing since they make little to no use of the interactivity potential of the devices. Actually, some of the best apps are free and can be easily adapted to therapy, primarily for vocabulary, language elicitation and as motivational tools.
There are a few reasons that iDevices can only be used as an adjunct to therapy and not as a replacement for an SLP, for now. As mentioned above, there are no apps up to the task. Speech recognition technology is not advanced enough to accurately and consistently determine if a sound is correctly produced. Children and their ways are also problematic. Children tend to tap all over the screen rather than selectively tap to learn. They tend to gravitate towards the easy rather than the challenge. We, on the other hand, challenge the child to stay focused and to move on to the next challenging level.
There likely will come a time when technology will be used in place of an SLP for certain types of therapy. I, for one, do not have a problem with that. Our services will need to evolve along with the technology.