If you are a Speech Language Pathologist who works with children (or you’re a parent), you may be wondering about the best speech therapy apps for kids.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), approximately 80% of children between the ages of three and 17 have a disorder related to:
Fortunately, more than half of these children receive intervention services that are intended to help them learn to communicate more effectively. Speech therapy has aided countless children who previously suffered from a variety of conditions.
Speech therapy can be prescribed for a wide range of disorders.
For example, one in 600 children in the U.S. is born with a cleft palate. The majority receive corrective surgery. However, because this changes the shape of the mouth and face, these children have to learn to make specific sounds all over again.
Similarly, 5% of kids go through a period of stuttering that lasts half a year or longer. Regardless of the cause, the anxiety that often arises from the condition only makes it worse.
In addition, children who are born with autism and are verbal often don’t learn conversational speech by themselves. Instead, they use their own “language,” which, while often making sense to them and their parents or caregivers, is difficult for others to understand.
In all of these situations, speech therapy can be a highly effective treatment to help these children communicate. This, in turn, improves their confidence and social skills.
Focusing on providing children with the language tools they need greatly increases their chances of living a normal, happy life.
Technology and Speech Therapy Apps
Over the past years, apps for computers, tablets, and smartphones have proven to be effective tools in speech therapy for children.
While there are no hard statistics available, Speech Therapists report that many children enjoy working with apps.
This facilitates the learning process.
Another significant benefit of apps is that they’re affordable and offer an easily accessible way for children to practice at home.
Considering the fact that the frequency of practice and the quality of the guidance is critical to progress, apps have the potential to greatly increase and speed up children’s development. For parents who do not have the budget or time to bring their children to a Speech Language Therapist every day, utilizing the best apps for speech therapy provides a distinct advantage.
In those crucial younger years, setting aside fifteen to thirty minutes a day to engage with some of the best speech therapy apps for toddlers will help immensely with their growth. Consider how the apps feel like playtime, and try incorporating them into your normal play schedule.
What’s more, practicing in the safety of their own home with only their family or caregivers around them can make children feel more at ease. Factors such as a comfortable place and being surrounded by people they know will contribute to better performance.
Since there are so many apps out there, it can be confusing to know which ones are effective and which aren’t. That’s why we have selected the best speech therapy apps with kids in mind.
Best Apps for Speech Therapy: Articulation
Children whose speech is impaired due to a physical issue—such as a cleft palate or problems with the jaw—can benefit from apps that help them practice articulation.
1. Speech Tutor
How often have you felt the frustration of not being able to show patients the inside of the mouth so they could see precisely how to place the tongue or move the throat to make a specific sound?
Speech Tutor is one of the best speech therapy apps to give a clear overview of what happens inside the mouth and throat during speech.
It offers 132 animations depicting both a front view and a side view of the mouth so children have an accurate, visible example of how to create sounds.
Speech Tutor app is available for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch and costs $9.99.
This app is a comprehensive tool for children with speech sound delays.
It offers exercises to practice 22 sounds at both the word and sentence levels, as well as the longer story level.
It includes six activities:
- rotating sentences
- unique sentences
- level 1 stories
- level 2 stories
With colorful photos and a suite of tools including voice recording for auditory feedback, scoring, and data tracking, it’s easy to use by speech-language pathologists and parents alike.
Articulation Station Pro is available for the iPhone and iPad and costs $59.99.
One of the best speech therapy apps for toddlers who need help with verbs, two-word combinations, counting, and concepts.
Described as action-packed, this is one of the engaging speech therapy apps for iPad users. It includes 20 awesome mini-games that help kids have fun with numbers.
This app features:
- 20 puzzles and mini-games that teach quantity, order, and sorting.
- An awesome sing-along counting song.
- An assisted counting guide that helps toddlers count all the way to 100.
The TallyTots app is $2.99, requires iOS 8.0 or later, and is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
Talking Pierre the Parrot is a virtual pet who repeats everything your child says in a funny voice. Although this isn’t a dedicated speech therapy app, it’s a great way to motivate your child to articulate correctly so Pierre sounds good!
This app is lots of fun for kids because it is less structured. Consider using this app as positive reinforcement after more intense sessions.
Talking Pierre the Parrot is free, requires iOS 7.0 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
Best Apps for Speech Therapy: Stuttering
Stuttering or stammering is a relatively common speech impediment in children. Fortunately, most are able to overcome their condition—only one percent of children are permanently affected.
5. Fluency SIS
Intended for school-age children who stutter, SIS (Smart Intervention Strategy) reshapes the approach to stuttering modification.
Its goal is to help the child become an effective and confident communicator by desensitizing him or her to feared stimuli, thereby reducing anxiety.
Using creativity and humor, it teaches the child how to maintain a positive perception of him or herself.
The award-winning Fluency SIS app is available for the iPad and costs $10.99.
One of the best speech therapy apps for the parents of children who stutter and aims to increase children’s positive feelings about speech, as well as reduce avoidance behavior.
Users can enter data regarding how often the child stutters throughout the day, when and where this occurs, and with whom the child was speaking. They can also record when and why the child avoided speaking.
This data is processed to provide an ongoing overview of a child’s anxiety and attitudes toward speaking so that the speech therapist can better customize his or her therapy.
Fluency Tracker is available for $9.99 for the iPhone.
Speech Therapy Apps for Autism Spectrum Disorders
Children with autism spectrum disorders can experience difficulty learning language and acquiring basic conversational skills. The following apps can help.
Aimed at enhancing comprehension in children with autism and special needs, this is one of the best apps for speech therapy with exercises to practice auditory and written instructions.
It has three modes:
- auditory only
- text only
- auditory and text
With an easy to use interface, colorful photos, and 3D objects, users can create thousands of “tasks” for the patient to perform.
For example, you can create the task, “Touch the flower,” and follow it up with, “Touch the vase.”
Eventually, when the child has mastered simple task comprehension, you can create the more complex task, “Touch the flower and then touch the vase.”
Keyword Understanding is available for the iPad and costs $9.99.
This speech therapy app provides exercises to practice pragmatic language or social skills.
There are 40 lessons that are divided into five skill sets:
- personal interactions
- navigating the community
- school behavior
- handling change
- social relationships
Lessons depict “normal” interactions and teach the patient what the expected emotions and behaviors are in that interaction. This is shown through a video with thought bubbles to reinforce learning.
Users can also create their own lessons thanks to the intuitive interface.
Let’s Be Social is available for the iPad and costs $9.99.
In combination with applied behavior therapy, iSequences is an educational app for children with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome that enables them to practice 100 different sequences of everyday situations, such as:
- Autonomous habits like brushing their teeth, washing their hands, getting dressed or going to bed
- Fun activities like going to the beach, to the movies or do sports
- Everyday situations like falling down, taking the bus, going the doctor, buying bread or getting wet in the rain
- Emotions like happiness, sadness, surprise or fear
Talking along with the lead character in the app provide opportunities to practice speech.
The iSequence app is $3.99, requires iOS 8.0 or later and is compatible with iPad.
Of course, there are many more useful apps for a wide variety of speech disorders. Some will be more suited to younger children, while others are specifically for teens and young adults.
In your experience, what do you think are the best speech therapy apps? Did we miss any on this list?
Let us know in the comments!