Learning to Talk with an iPad…Speech Therapy’s Big Helper

Author: Patti McAleer Hamaguchi, M.A., CCC-SLP

Twitter: Hamaguchi Apps @ HamaguchiApps



About the Author: Patti McAleer Hamaguchi is a speech-language pathologist, founder and director of Hamaguchi & Associates, Inc. and is the author of several books and articles on language development, and auditory processing.   Find them at these sites:




Find Patti’s apps, created for speech, language and auditory development at iTunes http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/hamaguchi-apps-for-speech/id460288922

It’s 2012 and times are a’changing! For years, speech therapists (technically called speech-language pathologists) would need to pull together a variety of picture cards, toys, and carefully crafted activities, to help children speak and communicate better. As iPads have become more and more commonplace, a new trend is rapidly catching on in the world of speech therapy—using apps in speech therapy.   HSA’s can help pay for educational technology .    Get medical insurance quotes on affordable plans that help pay for speech therapy.

In particular, for children on the autism spectrum, the use of the iPad brings together a number of elements that are hard to compete with. Color animation, sound effects, fast-moving action, hundreds of pictures easily organized to choose from, and the necessary repetition that is often needed—make it the new “must have” in the field of speech pathology.  Learn what is typical communication development at 18 months and at 3 years.

Joining eindividualhealth.com today is speech-language pathologist Patti Hamaguchi, M.A. CCC-SLP, Director of Hamaguchi & Associates, a pediatric speech therapy practice in Cupertino, CA, and CEO of Hamaguchi Apps, a premier developer of apps for speech and language development. She feels that that using apps in speech therapy is one more tool in the speech pathologist’s “bag of tricks” but should not be the sole focus of therapy. Person-to-person interaction in the “real world” is still the primary goal, but apps offer a format to practice skills in an engaging and motivating way. In particular, children on the autism spectrum often respond favorably to the iPad for learning concepts as well as when needed as an augmentative communication device.   Family health insurance plans for the entire family’s needs here.

But not all speech pathologists are comfortable with technology, and that is ok, too, according to Hamaguchi, as there are plenty of creative ways to address any student’s goals. Likewise, some children are also not fond of not only the iPad, but computers in general. For these children, Hamaguchi cautions that it is important to consider each child’s personality and learning style when selecting therapy materials. For those children who do enjoy working on an iPad, Hamaguchi finds that it can be less distracting than traditional picture cards due to the fact that there is less to handle, drop, and become distracted with. Additionally, the use of sound and animation brings images to life on the iPad, which cannot be duplicated with static picture cards, as well as the number of repetitions afforded in a short period of time. Using the built-in camera with an iPad also offers a way to record and playback key elements from a therapy session that can even be emailed home.  Read more about the ipad and your child’s development here.

Hamaguchi Apps for Speech, Language & Auditory Development was formed in 2011 and has quickly become a leader in the niche market of speech therapy apps for the iPad and iPhone. But Hamaguchi is quick to point out that it is important for adults to limit the use of all media, including the apps, so that the child doesn’t become glued to them for long periods of time. How long is appropriate? While there is no hard and fast data or recommendations, Hamaguchi suggests 15-20 minutes a day, with some exceptions for long car trips, waiting in doctor’s appointments, etc. Apps can be made specifically for speech and language skills, such as Hamaguchi’s, but a good, creative clinician can often turn an app into an interactive learning experience. Check out Hamaguchi Apps for Speech, Language & Auditory Development in the iTunes store! And see Patti’s blog about her apps  and her blog about auditory processing.

To learn more about affordable health insurance rates and get health insurance for children, click here.

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