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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
The duration of speech therapy depends on a variety of factors, including:
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.
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.
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.
Absolutely. In fact, it’s never too late to start speech therapy. Adults commonly receive speech therapy to:
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Speech therapy intervention may look different depending on the age of the individual we’re treating.
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.
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.
Getting started with Expressable online speech therapy involves a few simple steps:
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.
Expressable is an online speech therapy practice committed to expanding access to quality services for everyone with a communication disorder. Expressable has pioneered a parent-focused care model that uses technology and education to integrate speech therapy techniques into children’s daily lives, improving outcomes and experiences.