Monday, February 18, 2013

Speech Buddies Review

I'm guessing you are an SLP just like me: You have about enough 'supply budget' to cover pens, post-it notes and staples. Any clinic supplies come from your own budget. Last year I began seeing reviews of a cool set of tools called The Speech Buddies. I thought they looked awesome, but there was no-way I could risk so much of my own budget on one item. When Speech Buddies offered to let me review them, I thought it might help you decide if they are the right purchase for you!

I'm hoping I can give you a the answers to all those questions you might have before handing over your hard earned money. I've had the Speech Buddies since December and I feel like I can give you a good idea of how they work! I had three big questions about the Speech Buddies:

(1)Let's start with the facts. My first question to the Speech Buddy folks was if there was evidence to support their use. They sent me a few research articles. Here's what they show:

Using the /s/ speech buddy, After eight sessions, 88% of subjects using Speech Buddies exhibited remediation with a mean group accuracy of 74%, whereas for those not using Speech Buddies only 42% exhibited remediation with a mean group accuracy of 45%. The results provide evidence that Speech Buddies can be a more effective, first treatment option for articulation disorders.  G. ROGERS et all. Speech Buddies® and Intra-Oral Tactile Biofeedback: An Efficacy Study. 17 November 2011

I uploaded the ASHA paper here. I like that there is data. I'd LOVE if there was data that wasn't affiliated with their company!  Check out that info here.

(2) I also asked how long it takes to see results? They said, on average 2-5 weeks. I think that's about accurate. I wish I could send them home with kids to practice. For now, I just hunt them down in class and pull them into the hall for extra practice!

(3) The speech buddy manual indicates that they are to only be used with one child. Obviously that isn't feasible for most of us! I asked some further questions and found out that speech buddies did some research and found that using Clorox Germicidal wipes will clean them effectively. You can find that article here. Apparently this version of Clorox wipes is used regularly in hospitals and found effective for a whole host of diseases. Please consult your school nurse before sharing the speech buddies.

Ok so we've got the facts. I know what you're thinking......... DO THEY WORK?

The short answer? YES! Do they work all the time as a miracle cure? NO

Here's the run down of who I tested them out on.

(a) 5th grade student. Seen in RtI group. Produces /s/ with tongue lateralized to right side and twisted (I can't even explain how he does it). Given the speech buddy, he can immediately produce the correct /s/ placement. I go visit him every morning and let him get a lot of reps in, trying to retrain the muscle memory. Did it work? YES

(b) 2nd grade student. Normal cognitive. History of many sound errors. Introduce /r/ in September. Vocalic /r/ is difficult, but success with blends and prevocalic /r/. Given the /r/ speech buddy the child produces a closer approximation. He has not shown consistant success with the speech buddy. Did it work? Not really.

(c) Preschool student (age 4). Apraxia/Severe Phono (it's not so clear yet). Backs most things to /h/, limited to CV productions in September. She has acquired final consonants and is marking two syllable words. Can produce p/m/b/k/g. Can not produce t/d. I'm using the /l/ Speech Buddy to help her find oral placement for /d/. Without the buddy she can't put her tongue to alveolar ridge. Did it work? YES!

(d) 3rd grade boy. Working on /r/. The speech buddy has given him the placement cue he needs. I've seen improvement from 20% to 66% for vocalic /r/ in the initial position.  Did it work? Yes (so far!)

The bottom line: I would recommend the Speech Buddies to my fellow SLPs.  This week at an inservice, my SLP friends asked, 'So what do you really think about those speech buddies.' So I'll tell you what I told them! They are really great and something my 'tool kit' was missing.  Sometimes they worked in that quick miracle change right away and in other students they were showing slow progress.

Check out these demo videos I found on YouTube!

What do you think? Have you used the Speech Buddies before?

*Disclosure Statement: A speech buddies set was provided in order to complete this review. No other compensation was provided.