I have to admit I was pretty skeptical from the get go about Speech Buddies, but I like to welcome new technologies to the field so I was eager to see what they had to offer. Speech Buddies are a series of speech therapy tools, by Articulate Technologies,to help children learn correct tongue positioning for five speech sounds. These are sounds that typically are the most difficult for some children to produce. These sounds are – R, S, L, CH, and SH.
Speech Buddies were designed by a team of speech-language pathologists and engineers who understand the challenges associated with speech therapy and treating speech disorders.
It’s very important to note that Speech Buddies are not oral motor therapy. What they do is essentially help the child increase the kinesthetic awareness or sensory biofeedback of their articulators. Here is a diagram of how they work.
I used the Speech Buddies for about a month with clients that ranged from minor articulation errors on /l/ and /r/ to apraxia. I was pleasantly surprised by the results that I was seeing after using the Buddies for one or two sessions. I found that they worked best for clients who did not have any cognitive deficits as they were somewhat resistant to utilizing the Buddies in their mouths and for those that did tolerate it they often wanted to take the Speech Buddy from their mouth and then play therapist on me. ( Rubbing alcohol is used to sanitize between uses). Another issue I had was with missing dentition which didn’t offer the speech buddy support to cue the sound. For some of my clients who were working on one or two of these sounds they enjoyed using the Buddies on themselves and were able to instantly hear and feel the difference between their incorrect production and the production with the Speech Buddy. Overall I would recommend using the Speech Buddies, especially if you are a therapist that treats a caseload filled with clients with poor speech intelligibility.