Integrating Tech

October 25, 2011

Integrating Technology into the Practice of Speech-Language Therapy:
By: Stacy Strauss

We all have experienced the noticeable increase of technology use within our classrooms, especially being part of the Lexington Public School's "One-to-One" computer initiative!  Technology has been a consistent piece of educating students since it was introduced decades ago; however recently, mainstream media devices such as the itouch and ipad have gained particular attention, at least for me as a speech-language therapist.  An explosion of educational applications is now at our fingertips as educators and specialists, and it is up to us to take advantage and not only familiarize ourselves, but also expose our students/ clients to this aspect. 

As a speech therapist in both the school setting, as well as the clinical setting, I have always believed that a foundation of trust and emotional rapport, that is best established through face-to-face interaction, is paramount to the therapeutic process.  With that, the integration of technology into therapy goal writing, as well as implementation of mobile devices such as the iTouch and iPad into my treatment practices, have been challenging for me.  However, I am quickly realizing that I have been given a unique and awesome opportunity this year... With access to two iPads and countless applications that deal directly with the therapy goals my students and clients are trying to attain, I feel an obligation to share the wealth!  It was not something I asked for or was expecting, but it is/ will definitely be appreciated, and I plan to take full advantage of what I have been given!

As difficult as it sometimes is to get out of that 'comfort zone', and evolve right along with the changing world, it IS necessary.  As a therapist, there are many advantages and reasons to strive to integrate technology into the therapy setting, while maintaining that personal communicative interaction at the same time.  Technology is such a part of our lives, that making it a part of teaching or therapeutic practice is ultimately what will keep our students motivated and engaged.  Also, exposing students to technology while working toward specific speech/ languages goals will help them adapt to a future with technology. The world is ever changing, and jobs and technologies of the future have yet to be dreamed.  That is why along with straightforward communication skills, I have to help prepare my students for the future with the integration of technology.

As a school-based SLP, I am blessed with an ever growing and changing caseload.  By learning and utilizing mobile technology within my treatment practices, I am sure to increase the efficiency, engagement, and results of the time I am able to spend with students.  Technology (applications) related specifically to speech and language development is just now beginning to be evolve and be shared, but already I am utilizing applications such as "Smarty Speech", "Pocket SLP", and "Artic Pix", which I learned about from a website called GeekSLP.com.  And there are so many more that relate to vocabulary, 'wh' questions and prepositions!  I am like a kid in a candy store, exploring all of the great websites, blogs, and treatment applications, as well as actually exchanging therapy ideas with other colleagues

I am excited to say that I have already implemented use of the iPad with several of my articulation and high needs students, and they LOVE it! Because most of them are already familiar with technology (computers, smart phones, etc.), they seem to be open and motivated to try some of the new apps I have introduced!  Like I said, I have been the hardest one to convince... but I finally AM! We are learning together!

As I delve into this new dimension of treatment practice, I will also challenge myself to keep the face-to-face interaction.  I will strive for and development of "old fashioned" communicative skills, while integrating the aspect of mobile technology into my treatment practices.  Both are important, and finding the right balance is what will keep this new chapter of serving students exciting!

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