Some colleagues may be wondering if they should purchase the iPad to use as a therapy tool. I wanted to share my thoughts on this topic in an article I wrote for the Independent Clinician (http://independentclinician.com/is-an-ipad-for-speech-therapy-worth-the-investment/).
I love my iPad. I bought it when it first came out. I cannot say why I decided that I must have it. I am not a techie, nor had I ever had to have the latest and greatest new tech device. That is my husband’s department. But, I surprised my husband when I announced that I wanted the iPad. At the time, I did not know what its potential, as a device for our profession, would be. Now I know. It’s potential as a therapy tool is huge. But is it worth the investment? Yes and no.
By now I have downloaded about 500 apps. After reviewing each of the apps, there is good and bad news about them. The good news is that more and more apps are being developed that utilize the animation and interactivity potential of the iPad. There are a few creative and fun apps that can be adapted for our use in therapy. They are primarily apps for vocabulary, reading or fun game apps. Now, here is the not so good news. To date, speech recognition technology does not support the type of work we do when we work on an individual’s sound system. Thus, sound production is compromised in apps that target sounds in isolation, syllables or words (minimal pairs and articulation apps) making this type of app quasi usable. That cannot be helped right now. Also, there is no app that can accurately recognize correct or incorrect production of a sound or word. In this respect, the speech pathologist must work with the child in the same way she does when using paper materials. At present, apps for language hold the greatest potential use for our profession. However, there is a paucity of language therapy apps that utilize the capabilities of the iPad. For creative speech therapists, this is an open field.
Back to my original question: Is the iPad worth the investment? If one is a speech pathologist just starting out in the profession and wishes to build a library of standard materials available in catalogs, the iPad is worth considering. Instead of buying the standard paper materials, one can download an app of the same type. One then has to weigh whether the initial minimum $500.00 cost of the iPad plus the sometimes steep prices of these paper identical apps is worth it. Another consideration is the fact that if one works for a school district or clinic, the materials are already available in paper form. If one’s therapy sessions include fun games used to motivate, then the iPad is wonderful. It is an extremely motivating device and there are a number of fun apps one can download. The iPad should also be a serious consideration for speech pathologists who work with children needing augmentative communication. However, the prices for AAC apps are among the highest.
So, is the iPad worth the investment? If your plan is to use it for reasons beyond therapy, it is worth the investment. It is a wonderful gadget with a multitude of uses. If your plan is to buy it primarily to use in therapy, then you may want to wait until the therapy apps catch up to the technology of the iPad. I expect that apps for our profession will soon improve in quality, so that having the iPad will greatly enhance what we do.