Online Speech Therapy

Mother attending an online therapy session with her daughter

Telehealth has been growing rapidly in the United States, and speech therapy is no exception. Everyday, more and more families and individuals are choosing to receive online speech therapy from the comfort and safety of their homes.

In this review, we’re going to provide an overview of speech therapy, and dive deeper into how online speech therapy works, what services can be successfully treated online, its effectiveness versus traditional therapy, and more. This information is intended to answer as many questions as possible so you and/or your family can make the most informed treatment decisions.

About Speech Therapy

What is Speech Therapy?

Speech therapy helps children and adults improve their communication skills. Speech therapy is also used to treat problems related to voice quality as well as oral, swallowing and feeding issues.

Speech therapy intervention focuses on improving an individual’s speech patterns (including how to coordinate mouth movements to correctly produce sounds, words, and sentences), as well as their ability to understand and express both verbal and non-verbal language.

What Does Speech Therapy Treat?

Speech therapy involves the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of a range of speech, language, voice, and swallowing impairments. Common examples include:

Additionally, speech therapy is also recommended for non-clinical issues like public speaking and accent modification.

What is a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP)?

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs), more commonly referred to as speech therapists, are experts in human communication, its development, and disorders. They assess, diagnose, and treat a wide range of speech and language disorders, cognitive-communication issues, and oral, swallowing, and feeding issues.

All certified SLPs have at least a Master’s degree, and have obtained licensure in each of the states they practice. They are certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), and are required to pass a national exam and complete a supervised clinical fellowship.

What Do Speech Therapists Do?

Based on a thorough and comprehensive evaluation of your communication needs, strengths, and deficits, your speech therapist will develop a personalized treatment plan to help you overcome obstacles and reach your goals. While speech therapy is often delivered one-on-one, it can also be provided in a group setting.

Speech therapists use a variety of strategies and techniques during intervention. Some of these include:

  • Language Therapy: To help build foundation language skills necessary for early childhood development, speech production, and literacy skills, your speech therapy will interact with your child through playing and talking. They’ll use games, books, objects, and pictures to help stimulate language development. Additionally, they’ll use repetitive exercises to build language skills, and work with your child on vocabulary expansion, grammar correction, and more. Speech therapists also work with adults to improve their verbal and non-verbal language skills, helping them become strong communicators so they can reach their personal and professional goals.
  • Speech Sound Therapy: Articulation therapy focuses on correctly producing sounds. Your speech therapist will work with you, your child, or your loved one on exercises that involve modeling correct sounds and syllables to clearly articulate legible words and sentences. One common problem area in children is correctly pronouncing the “r” sound. For example, saying “wabbit” instead of “rabbit.” In this case, your speech therapist will demonstrate correct tongue placement, reinforce best practices, and use age-appropriate exercises. Speech therapists commonly work with adults to correct speech errors that have persisted since childhood, or to help them regain normal speech patterns following an illness or injury.
  • Oral-motor/feeding and swallowing therapy: Individuals that have trouble with feeding and swallowing often receive intervention from a speech therapist. Treatment can include a range or oral exercises to strengthen the vital mouth muscles we use everyday. They may also introduce or recommend different foods textures to increase oral awareness during feeding.

Who Needs Speech Therapy?

Speech therapy is appropriate for all ages, from babies to adults.

For children, speech therapy is most commonly recommended for those struggling to reach communication milestones appropriate for their age. Speech therapy can help children improve their overall communication skills, including their ability to clearly articulate their thoughts, feelings, and ideas (expressive language), as well as their ability to process and comprehend language (receptive language).

For adults, speech therapy can improve lingering communication issues that developed in childhood and were never properly treated, such as stuttering or articulation errors. Speech problems can also develop in adulthood as a result of illness or injury, often due to a stroke or illness (e.g. parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, or ALS). Additionally, many adults seek treatment for issues that are non-clinical in nature but can still affect their communication and confidence, such as public speaking or accent modification.

How Long Does Speech Therapy Last?

The duration of speech therapy depends on a variety of factors, including:

  • The type of speech disorder or communication challenge
  • The frequency of speech therapy sessions each week/month
  • Age
  • Underlying medical condition

While many speech and language issues begin in childhood and may improve over time, others can persist into adulthood and require long-term therapy and maintenance. Thus, the duration and frequency of speech therapy will be different for every person. To make the most informed treatment decisions, it’s important to start by seeking an evaluation from a speech-language pathologist.

Where is Speech Therapy Offered?

Speech therapy can be delivered in a variety of settings, including a private speech therapy clinic, school, hospital, skilled nursing facility, in your home, or online using video technology. Choosing the most ideal location for you and your family depends on a range of factors, including your clinical needs and preferences.

Is My Child too Young to Start Speech Therapy?

Speech and language skills begin developing in infancy. Building strong language skills in young children, particularly infants, can set the foundation for strong communication and literacy skills once they enter school.

Speech therapy is particularly important for children that are not reaching age-appropriate communication milestones, or are experiencing communication difficulties such as stuttering or mispronunciations due to a lisp. Because speech and language patterns become more ingrained and habitual over time, the earlier that speech errors can be corrected, the better outcomes children are likely to experience.

Does speech therapy work for adults?

Absolutely. In fact, it’s never too late to start speech therapy. Adults commonly receive speech therapy to:

  • Overcome communication obstacles that began in childhood and were never properly treated (such as a stutter or articulation issue).
  • Treat speech and language issues that developed due to illness or injury, such as after a stroke or as a result of Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, or ALS.
  • Improve communication skills due to a clinical diagnosis common in older adults, including aphasia, acquired apraxia of speech, dysarthria, and other cognitive conditions.
  • Improve confidence and increase communication skills vital to your professional development, such as performing in the workplace, interviewing, meeting with colleagues, etc.
  • Reduce accents that are regional or based on your country of origin.
  • Reduce the fear of public speaking and help you excel at presenting in a group setting.
  • Modify the pitch, intonation, and quality of your voice.

Can Speech Therapy Help Adults with Basic Communication Skills?

Yes. As mentioned above, you do not need a clinical diagnosis to reap the benefits of improved communication skills.

Many adults commonly seek speech therapy treatment for accent modification, public speaking, or to improve the quality of their voice. Overcoming these challenges can help you gain the confidence and motivation necessary to succeed professionally in the workplace, let your talents shine, and improve your people skills and day-to-day relationships.

How Much Does Speech Therapy Typically Cost?

This is understandably one of the most common questions for individuals and families considering speech therapy. Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer. Like all types of health-related services, speech therapy can be expensive, with costs fluctuating dramatically depending on a variety of factors, including:

  • Where you live
  • The professional experience of your speech therapist
  • How speech therapy will be delivered (in-person versus online)
  • Whether you have insurance coverage
  • The type of insurance coverage you have

Speech therapy generally costs anywhere from $50-$250 a session. Some speech therapy providers also charge additional costs, like a one-time fee for an evaluation (which typically costs a few hundred dollars), or penalties for cancelled and rescheduled appointments.

To find exact costs, it’s important to speak with each speech therapy provider that you’re considering and, if you have insurance, determine whether speech therapy is covered.

Does Insurance Cover Speech Therapy?

If you’re fortunate enough to have insurance, you should check with your provider about whether they provide coverage for speech therapy.

Unfortunately, speech therapy coverage is routinely denied by insurers for a host of reasons (after all, they’re always trying to keep their costs down). Insurance companies are required to provide a written response outlining their reason for rejection, which can include:

  • Treatment is not considered a “medical necessity.”
  • Speech-language therapy is not a covered service.
  • There are other available alternatives, like receiving speech therapy from a local public school.
  • Treatment is not medical but educational or developmental in nature. This is common for adults seeking to improve their communication skills.

While you can fight the denial, many families find themselves in a constant cycle of appeals and peer-to-peer medical reviews.

In some cases, insurance companies may only offer temporary coverage for a fixed amount of time, such as 6-8 sessions. For some individuals this can be sufficient, for others, that isn’t enough to address the root cause of their challenges.

Online Speech Therapy with Expressable

What is Expressable Online Speech Therapy?

At the end of the day, online speech therapy with Expressable is similar to therapy delivered in more traditional, in-person settings. The only difference is that instead of sitting face-to-face with your speech therapist at a table, you’re sitting face-to-face with your speech therapist via a video screen.

If you’ve ever used Zoom, FaceTime, Google Meet, or any other type of video chat software, speech therapy delivered online is no different. On the other end of your screen is a certified and experienced speech-language pathologist that will work with you and/or your child on strategies and exercises to improve communication skills.

What are the Benefits of Expressable Online Speech Therapy?

Technology is reshaping our lives in numerous ways - including how we search for information, communicate with friends and family, and shop. Increasingly, it’s also changing how we receive health-related services and care.

Here are some of the reasons why families love Expressable online speech therapy:

  • Affordability: Expressable doesn’t have to pay many of the costs typically associated with running an in-person practice (think rent, overhead, administration costs, certain types of liability insurance, and more). Therefore, these savings can be passed down to families which, in many cases, makes speech therapy with Expressable dramatically cheaper.
  • Convenience: By connecting with your speech therapist online, you can receive high quality care from the comfort of your home. This means no more long driving commutes and or hours spent sitting in a waiting room. Additionally, individuals often learn best in an environment that’s most familiar and comfortable - their homes.
  • Accessibility: Similarly, individuals who live in remote or rural areas struggle with finding quality speech therapy within proximity of their homes. This is not only inconvenient, but makes it harder to find a speech therapist specialized to your unique needs. Expressable removes these geographic barriers completely. We work with a large team of speech therapists, matching you with a professional who’s experienced and specialized in your area of need.
  • Scheduling Flexibility: Many speech therapy clinics are open during traditional 9-5 business hours. Unfortunately, with school and work schedules, this can be inconvenient if not impossible to arrange. Expressable online speech therapy offers more flexible hours, including mornings, nights, and weekends, so you can fit speech therapy around your life - not the other way around.
  • Therapist Speciality: Speech therapy covers a broad range of disciplines and diagnoses. A speech therapist who’s specialized in early childhood articulation may not feel comfortable treating a post-stroke survivor with limited cognitive functioning, or a child with communication difficulties related to Autism Spectrum Disorder. With Expressable, you’re not limited to the speech therapists at any one specific clinic or school setting. You now have access to a wide range of speech therapists so you can be matched with one best suited and experienced to your needs.
  • Parent and Caregiver Engagement: Individuals make more progress towards their speech therapy goals when parents and caregivers are actively involved. This is because the strategies and techniques taught by your speech therapist must be constantly practiced and reinforced at home. Building a strong relationship with your speech therapist can be especially difficult in a school-based setting, where one speech therapist may be assigned to multiple students, and quality face-to-face time with your therapist is often limited to your annual Individual Education Planning (IEP) meeting. With Expressable, you can sit alongside your child or loved one during their therapy sessions so you can more easily and actively participate in their care.

What Services can be Delivered Online?

The majority of speech and language disorders can be effectively treated online. Services pertaining to speech, language, and communication goals are easily transferable to an online session, such as articulation disorders, language delays, and post-stroke rehabilitation to name just a few.

One landmark study that compared progress and satisfaction of children receiving in-person versus online speech therapy was conducted by Kent State University. Researchers used standardized tests to measure outcomes, and found that students in both study groups made considerable advancement towards their goals. However, based on surveys, researchers noted that both students and parents overwhelmingly preferred and supported the online delivery method because of its convenience.

With that said, there is a small subset of conditions that may be better suited to a more interactive, hand-on approach. Examples include swallowing and feeding issues, as well as tracheotomy management. These individuals often require high levels of tactile cues or sensory input. For some clients, a family and caregiver coaching approach can be highly beneficial within an online model. In other cases, in-person sessions may be more appropriate.

At the end of the day, nothing is a perfect fit for everybody. We each have our own unique learning styles, preferences, and comfort level. However, online speech therapy is an appropriate and effective delivery model for the majority of communication disorders, and most people who try online speech therapy love it.

Does Online Speech Therapy Work for Young Children?

The majority of children love online speech therapy. Many become more attentive with online learning, and prefer the interactivity of online exercises and communication. Additionally, there are many effective strategies that speech therapists use to engage children online.

Expressable’s model of care also focuses on the most important component of improving childrens’ speech and language skills - parent and caregiver engagement. When parents are more actively involved in their child’s care, progress towards their communication goals is accelerated. Our therapists work directly with parents and act as their “coach,” teaching them techniques, cues, and at-home strategies so they can incorporate language-building skills into everyday activities.

What Does Online Speech Therapy Look Like?

Speech therapy intervention may look different depending on the age of the individual we’re treating.

  • Ages 0-3: During a child’s younger years, our therapists work directly with parents to help them reinforce learning and best practices at home. This is because speech and language-building skills happen throughout a child’s daily life, from playtime to dinner prep to bedtime rituals. Your speech therapist will arm you with education, tools, cues, and at-home strategies so you can incorporate communication skills throughout your child’s everyday life. While children are encouraged to sit alongside their parents during online therapy sessions, it is not necessary for this age group.
  • Ages 3-6: At this age, children are more independent and can benefit from instruction delivered in the speech therapy sessions. In many cases, children attend the video sessions alongside their parents so they can both learn valuable skills directly from the speech therapist. For children that have trouble focusing with online learning, speech therapists will continue to work with parents so lessons can more easily be incorporated at home.
  • Ages 7 and up: While many older children attend sessions independently with their speech therapist, parents are more than welcome to join. Additionally, parents are kept in the loop with updates and tips during each session. They also have direct access to their speech therapist via secure texting so questions can be answered anytime while not in session.
  • Adults: One of the biggest advantages of online speech therapy for adults is the ability to schedule therapy sessions around their busy lives, including work and family obligations. Adults are more than welcome to attend sessions independently, or bring along a spouse, family member, or caregiver.

Is Online Speech Therapy as Effective as Traditional Therapy?

Multiple studies have compared the effectiveness and outcomes of speech therapy delivered online versus conventional, in-person settings. Many of these prominent studies, including those that were conducted at Kent State University and by the Ohio Department of Public Education, found that children made similar progress towards their communication goals regardless of how speech therapy was delivered. Each study used GFTA-2 scores (Goldman-Fristoe Test of Articulation) to measure progress, which is one of the most popular and credible tests used to assess speech articulation in children and adults.

Based on a strong body of evidence, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), which is the credentialing association for speech-language pathologists, recognized online speech therapy in 2005 as a valid means of therapy delivery.

You can learn more about the effectiveness of online speech therapy here.

What Do I Need to Get Started?

All you need to get started with Expressable online speech therapy is an internet connection and modern device. While you can use your smartphone if necessary, it’s generally recommended that you use a larger screen such as a computer or tablet.

At Expressable, we take your privacy and confidentiality seriously. All the technology we use, including our secure video and text messaging platforms, are HIPAA compliant. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law that helps protect and safeguard your sensitive information, with regulation on the use of safe and compliant technology.

How Does Expressable Work?

Getting started with Expressable online speech therapy involves a few simple steps:

  • 1) Consultation: It begins with a free, 15-minute phone consultation from one of our certified speech therapists. Simply fill out a few questions and choose a time you’d like to be contacted. During this consultation, an Expressable speech therapist will work to better understand your needs, communication goals, and determine if Expressable is a good fit. No credit cards or commitments are required, and we promise never to spam you with calls and emails.
  • 2) Therapist Matching: If you choose to move forward with Expressable, we’ll pair you with a speech therapist that’s experienced in your area of need. As mentioned, speech therapy covers a broad scope of services and specialties, so it’s imperative that you’re matched with a professional best suited to help. We’ll also ask for more detailed intake information to prepare your speech therapist with the background knowledge they need to deliver effective care.
  • 3) Evaluation: Your first speech therapy session will be a comprehensive, 45-minute evaluation to assess your communication strengths, deficits, and areas of improvement. Unlike other speech therapy practices, Expressable doesn’t charge hundreds of dollars for the evaluation. In fact, it’s the same price as a normal, 30-minute session.
  • 4) Choose Session Times and Frequency: Based on your communication needs and goals, your speech therapist will recommend an appropriate frequency of weekly or monthly sessions. While some individuals require a more intensive therapy schedule, others may only need speech therapy a few times a month to correct minor issues or maintain progress. However, the frequency of speech therapy sessions ultimately up to you, and should take into account your personal goals, budget, and availability.
  • 5) Begin Therapy: We’ll send you a secure link to attend your speech therapy sessions at the date and times you’ve selected. Simply click the provided link and you’ll be instantly connected to your speech therapist. Additionally, you and your speech therapist can communicate directly via our secure texting platform, so you can ask questions anytime or easily reschedule an appointment.

How Much Does Expressable Cost?

At Expressable, our mission is to make speech therapy affordable, convenient, and accessible for everyone. As an online speech therapy provider, Expressable saves many of the costs typically associated with running a physical practice. This allows us to pass these cost savings down to you.

Expressable uses a convenient subscription-based payment model to charge our clients (much like Netflix!). There are no contracts or long-term commitments, so you’re free to cancel anytime. Additionally, you can easily increase or decrease the frequency of services as you wish depending on your progress and budget.

We offer several different plans so families can customize treatment to their individual needs. These plans range from $59 a week (for one session), or $118 a week (for two sessions). Each session includes a curated list of at-home exercises after each session, as well as unlimited texting with your therapist.

Talk with a certified therapist today.

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