SpeechWays by Leah R. Moryosef, M.A., CCC-SLP.

SpeechWays by Leah R. Moryosef, M.A., CCC-SLP.

Phone: (858) 449-5628

Web site: www.MySpeechWays.com

Price: $19.95 per card; $29.95 for the 3-Pack Set (Vocabulary & Language Enhancement, Care of the Voice, and Enhancing Fluency)

SpeechWays is a home-based program for the development of speech and language in young children. Leah Moryosef, a speech-language pathologist with more than 15 years of experience working with children and adults in a variety of settings, developed the program as an affordable way of helping parents work effectively with their children to improve articulation, fluency, and expressive language.

Like me, Moryosef believes the solution to SLP shortages and limitations to services in public schools is to empower parents to become their children's own live-in speech therapists. The SpeechWays program provides simple, understandable instructions for parents wanting to work with their children to improve communication skills. There are no flash cards, worksheets, or games as part of this program; instead, each card provides a set of tried-and-true techniques that speech-language pathologists use in therapy to help children unlearn old speech habits and replace them with clear, age-appropriate speech.

Moryosef recommends working with your child about ten minutes a day using the program. She also offers suggestions for facilitating carryover of correct sounds into spontaneous conversation. Purchasers of the program are welcome to email SpeechWays if they get 'stuck' or have questions about the program.

The full program consists of 12 laminated cards (6" by 9"): a welcome and introduction card providing general advice for using the program and working with your child; eight articulation cards, each focusing on a particular sound or a voiceless/voiced sound pair (such as /s/ and /z/); a Vocabulary Enhancement card, an Enhancing Fluency card; and a Care of the Voice card. Each card is for sale individually; you can buy the 3-Pack Set, which includes Vocabulary & Language Enhancement, Care of the Voice, and Enhancing Fluency, or the complete set of 12 cards, for a special price.

The appeal of the SpeechWays program is its affordability, flexibility, and portability. Since each card is sold individually, you don't need to pay for cards addressing sounds your child does not have trouble with (the Welcome card is included with every order). You can get started for significantly less than you would pay for a speech-language therapy session (perhaps even less than the copay, if you are lucky enough to have an insurance policy that covers speech-language therapy). The techniques and principles on the cards are simple and straightforward enough that you will probably soon have them memorized and will be able to use the cards for quick reference only.

The cards come in a three-holed carrying pouch that can go into a binder if needed. They are laminated and sturdy, so you can use them around food or drink, or at bath time, without worrying about spills and stains. Their size makes it easy to carry one with you tucked into a purse, a glove compartment, or a Harry Potter novel. Most importantly, though, each card provides basic information that helps parents take an active role in improving their children's speech and language skills through effective one-on-one interaction.

Twenty dollars may seem a bit much to pay for a small card. Try to think of it as paying for information and advice, rather than as buying stuff. Compared to what you could pay for private therapy, even eighty bucks for the full set is a bargain by comparison. Still, it seems a bit unfortunate that the only way to get a discount for multiple cards is to buy all twelve or the 3-Pack Set (vocabulary, voice, and fluency). A "pick any three for $29.95" deal would be nice for parents of children with multiple speech sound errors. Even so, the price is reasonable, and the availability of assistance via email adds to the program's value.

While SpeechWays can be an excellent tool with proper use, it is important to remember that there are some things the program will not do. Most significantly, it does not teach you how to diagnose or rule out any type of communication disorder. Elsewhere on my site, I have made it pretty clear what I think about parents approaching speech therapy as a do-it-yourself project. I do believe in home programs, and in parents taking initiative, but most parents are not familiar with all the possible causes of unclear speech, or how to identify them. If your child has difficulty saying the /s/ and /z/ sounds, for example, it could be that the child simply needs to unlearn an old habit and re-learn the proper articulatory placement. In this case, the /s/ and /z/ card could be very effective. However, in some cases, difficulty with /s/ and /z/ sounds is a result of a language disorder, a phonological awareness deficit , or apraxia. In these cases, the techniques on the SpeechWays /s/ and /z/ card are unlikely to be effective. On the other hand, they probably won't do any harm, either, so the worst that can happen is you'll be out twenty bucks. Still, I would be far more comfortable recommending the use of these cards as a home program in consultation with a qualified speech-language pathologist. Yes, evaluations and therapy can be expensive, but you get what you pay for. You may still save yourself money by using the cards to reduce the frequency of therapy sessions, or by speeding up your child's progress and reducing the duration of therapy. And, if you have to wait to get in for an evaluation and want to start working with your child in the meantime, the cards are worth a try. If you do this, let your child's speech-language pathologist know that you have been using the cards, and whether or not you are seeing progress--that's valuable diagnostic information.

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