I hope your week is off to a great start! I'm here today with a new product review: Speech Buddies!
Over the past few years, the Speech Buddies company has made quite a splash into the World of Speech Pathology. Though I had heard many different thoughts and opinions, I had not tried the product out for myself. I'm currently working at an inpatient/outpatient hospital, and I had several kiddos on my caseload who were real zingers in artic therapy. It seemed I had tried just about everything, and I was willing to give just about anything a go! One of the kiddos, a 3rd grade "r" student, had been in speech at school and had been coming to the clinic for quite some time, with little progress. His mom had heard about Speech Buddies and asked my opinion. I don't like to give an opinion on something I haven't experienced for myself, so I told her I'd give them a try.
Disclaimer: Speech Buddies provided me with a Speech Buddies toolkit; however, no other compensation was provided. The following opinions are all mine.
When my Speech Buddies kit came in the mail, I have to admit, I liked the way they were packaged. I spend a large portion of my day traveling around to different day cares. This means I have to take what I need with me, and hauling things that are big and bulky is just not my style. I really appreciated the small, sturdy case the Speech Buddies are housed in and the box they are packaged in. Definitely a plus for me.
This is what I've found:
Patient #1: A 7 y/o male working on /s/. Initial examination revealed patient had a frontal lisp on /s/ in all positions, including blends. After 9 weeks of using the /s/ Speech Buddy for placement practice, the patient had corrected all /s/ errors at the connected speech level, and was discharged from speech therapy.
Patient #2: A 8 y/o male working on /sh/. Initial examination revealed patient produced /s/ for /sh/ and was at the time, not stimulable for correct /sh/ production in isolation. After 12 weeks of using the /sh/ Speech Buddy for placement practice, the patient had corrected all /sh/ errors at the sentence level, and is now working on carrying over correct placement into conversation (with minimal errors at this time).
Patient #3: A 6 y/o male working on /ch/. Initial examination revealed patient had a lateralized /ch/ sound, which sounded extremely "slushy." Parent reported patient lateralized /sh/ and /s/ previously, but had corrected those sounds in a previous speech therapy environment. After 10 weeks of using the /ch/ Speech Buddy for placement practice, the patient is able to correctly produce /ch/ at the word level with 70% accuracy.
Patient #4: A 5 y/o female working on /l/. Initial examination revealed patient produced /w/ for /l/ and was not stimulable for /l/ in isolation. After 3 weeks of using the /l/ Speech Buddy for placement practice, the patient was able to produce /l/ in all positions of words. She is currently working on /l/ at the sentence level with 75% accuracy.
Patient #5: A 9 y/o male working on /r/. Initial evaluation revealed patient was not stimulable for a correct production of /r/ in any position, including vocalic /r/ sounds. This patient had previously been taught the retroflexed /r/ approach in speech therapy in school, although it did not sound or look "natural." After 12 weeks of using the /r/ Speech Buddy for placement, the patient continues to have "groping" tongue movements that do not look or sound natural for /r/. This is the case with or without the Speech Buddy. I am currently now teaching the Bunched /r/ production, which is also proving to be difficult with this tricky little guy!
Patient #6: A 7 y/o female working on /r/. Initial evaluation revealed incorrect production in all positions. Patient was stimulable for correct production with vocalic /er/ and /ar/. After 16 weeks using the /r/ Speech Buddy for placement practice, the patient is now producing /r/ correctly in all positions of words, including r-blends and all vocalic /r/ sounds, at the phrase and short sentence level with 75% accuracy.
Overall Pros and Cons:
- The Speech Buddies are well-packaged and easy to tote along wherever you go.
- Many kiddos respond well to a tactile cue for artic placement.
- The Speech Buddies are perceived as "cool" to kids, and seemed to make them more interested in placement practice of their sounds.
- The instruction guide has good directions and pictures to show how to position the speech buddies.
- The online videos are helpful for making sure you get the correct placement.
- Speech Buddies can be used along with the iPad apps I use regularly for artic drills, such as Articulation Station Pro, from Little Bee Speech. (This means there is very little to carry around to different clients).
- Speech Buddies are expensive, especially when you're living on an SLP budget. Most SLPs don't get money from their schools or job sites, and if they do, it's minimal. Also, many of the parents of my clients just simply would not be able to afford them.
- Speech Buddies must be thoroughly cleaned in between each client. Although having a Speech Buddy for each client would be ideal, this is simply not possible due to the cost.
- Speech Buddies are not an instant, "quick fix" for most clients.
Some final notes:
My experience with Speech Buddies is just that: my experience. Based on everything I've read and others I've talked to, there are a lot of different experiences and opinions out there. They work great for some clients and not so great for others. Where I found them most helpful was in teaching the proper placement for clients who were not already stimulable for the sound in isolation. They served as a tactile cue and provided a little more detail than a simple tongue depressor.
I was very careful to use them and remove them often so my clients did not become too reliant on them for correct production. (We practiced 10 words with them, and then 10 words without them).
Finally, Speech Buddies are NOT a replacement for traditional speech therapy with a certified SLP, and should never be considered as such. As a trained SLP, I sat with my clients to ensure the correct placement and monitored their productions. I would not feel comfortable with any of my patients using Speech Buddies at home for the first time without the help on an SLP. Having said that, I am always looking for ways to encourage parent involvement and practice at home, so if a client is interested in purchasing Speech Buddies for home, they are willing to let me (or another certified SLP) assist in getting started, and they are continuing to consult with an SLP for guidance, I'm all for it!
If you're interested in purchasing your own Speech Buddy tools or learning more about their products, you can check out their website HERE.
Do you have any experience with Speech Buddies? What has your experience been?