Speech Therapy Gamified

Living with a speech sound disorder can create challenges for kids who struggle to communicate their wants, needs, and ideas clearly. Luckily, speech therapy techniques are effective in improving sound production skills. Despite effective services, some kids struggle with making progress in therapy. Often, this is because of difficulty getting enough therapy to make changes in speech motor patterns.

Think, for example, about learning a new sport. Before you’re able to play a game with any level of skill, you have to practice all the aspects of the sport with enough frequency to gain the muscle memory for the movements associated with that sport. Speech works in this same way. Before you’re able to produce words clearly in a conversation, you have to know how to make all the sounds in each word you’re saying. This requires a lot of muscle memory.

When a child has a speech sound disorder, he or she didn’t learn how to make speech sounds accurately for any number of reasons. While therapy can help teach new motor patterns to correct the error and teach kids why it matters for their communication to make the sound the correct way, the struggle for many kids is getting enough repetition of practice to make a permanent change—to get the new skill embedded in their muscle memory so they don’t have to think about how to say what they want to say, but instead can focus on the message.

Our goal at Verboso is to create automated, video game style speech therapy solutions. Using artificial intelligence, we can create smart games that are able to automatically provide kids with feedback about their sounds. Games motivate kids to practice, and the technology helps make home practice accurate. By creating the motivation for high quality practice, kids can get more repetition of practice to help make permanent changes in their speech behavior.

In order to create the technology for a complicated task like speech sound production, we need a large database of speech to train the machine learning algorithm. Articulation Drill Game is an app available on the App Store (https://apps.apple.com/us/app/articulation-drill-game/id1468947925) that allows kids to practice different variations of the /r/ sound. These productions will contribute to our database of speech sounds so we can build automated video games. The parent consent process and app have been approved by an independent third party to verify that the consent, recordings and storage comply with children’s privacy standards. Check it out today!

While we’re still developing our automatic grading feature, we wanted to get more gamification into speech therapy right away, so we created Marine Team to provide a video game format for kids to practice sounds with an adult’s help. If you’re looking for fun tools for getting more repetitions in a practice session, check out Marine Team, available for purchase on the App Store! https://apps.apple.com/us/app/marine-team/id1483873277