There are a number of commercially available learning programs that we purchase and use to build speech and language skills. They typically include products that are geared for specific skill building at various ages and/or grade levels (e.g., early concept development, reading skills, etc.), but also include learning software which is more entertainment oriented. This type of software is chosen based on its ability to develop thinking (cognitive) and language skills. These programs include those that require the child to recall and organize information, plan, strategize, and problem solve.
All software is used in an interactive manner. This means that there is reciprocity between the student and the therapist, and the student is asked to “talk about” the learning experience. Students are required to show or express what has been or is currently being seen on the screen, ask and/or answer questions about the information, express what may happen next and/or explain problems and strategies for solving those problems. They get experience in such skills as telling and describing, explaining, and retelling. Cooperative learning with the therapist is encouraged as they problem solve through the program.
For children with articulation issues, interactive computer work allows them to practice generalizing their targeted sounds in spontaneous conversation. It is a motivating way to work on sounds, and generalize acquired sounds in an environment that is less structured. The child must use self-monitoring skills while attending to and talking about an interesting task.
There are a number of types of programs specifically designed for speech and/or language skill building or development. These programs include but are not limited to developing skills in vocabulary, concept development, school readiness, following directions, phonemic awareness and phonics, grammar, reading comprehension, writing skills, verbal expression, articulation, fluency and voice.
Fast ForWord is a family of technology-based programs by Scientific Learning Corporation, which build skills critical to language and reading. They are intensive four to eight week programs that are administered using the computer and earphones to optimize processing. Programs vary in terms of abilities and skills to be targeted. Clinic based programs may be individual or in small group depending on scheduling needs, and an assistant is utilized to help in monitoring students’ performance and provide positive feedback and reinforcement (refer to https://www.ffwd.org/about/ for details).