211 – Speech intervention for rural Australian children

Presentation - ECV2022-211

Speech intervention for rural Australian children
Sharynne McLeod, Charles Sturt University, Australia (smcleod@csu.edu.au)
Grace Kelly, Charles Sturt University, Australia
Beena Ahmed, Say66 Ptd Ltd, The University of New South Wales, Australia (beena.ahmed@unsw.edu.au)
Kirrie Ballard, Say66 Ptd Ltd, The University of Sydney, Australia (kirrie.ballard@sydney.edu.au)

Background: Many young children have speech sound disorders that can impact their ability to communicate with those around them. These children also face an increased risk of social, educational, and occupational limitations. Many interventions have evidence demonstrating successful outcomes for children with speech sound disorders. It is important that timely and effective speech intervention occurs; however, the critical window for intensive therapy is often missed due to long waiting lists, geographical barriers, and insufficient funding for speech-language pathologists (SLPs). SayBananas! is a speech intervention app that was developed via collaborative research with speech-language pathologists (SLPs), engineers, parents and children with evidence including a randomised controlled trial, plus usability, validation, and efficacy studies ensuring high treatment fidelity.

Aim: The overarching aim of this mixed-methods effectiveness study was to examine the effect of using the SayBananas! app with children with speech sound disorders and to document their usage and feedback.

Method: Participants were 45 rural Australian children with speech sound disorders (4;4–10;5 years). The six stages were: (1) recruitment, (2) eligibility screening, (3) questionnaire, (4) online pre-assessment, (5) SayBananas! intervention (6) online post-assessment and interview. During stage 4, parents were supported to deliver individualised speech intervention with SayBananas! with their children (four weeks, 10–15 target words) using motor learning principles remotely supervised by SLPs. Adherence and performance were automatically monitored.

Results: Most participants were highly engaged with SayBananas! completing a median of 45 trials/session (45% of the 100 trial/session target, range 7–194). After intervention, participants made significant gains on treated words (median change = 15.66%). No reliable change was found for the percentage of consonants correct on the speech assessment, parent-rated intelligibility, or children’s feelings about talking. The number of practice sessions was significantly correlated with the percent change on treated words. On average, children rated the app as “happy/good/fun” providing detailed drawings. Families highly rated the app’s engagement, functionality, aesthetics, and quality.

Conclusions: This study demonstrated that the SayBananas! app provides a viable solution for access to speech practice for rural Australian children with speech sound disorders and can improve speech accuracy on treated words.

Implications for children and families: Using a speech intervention app is fun so everyone is motivated to practice speech homework. The more you practice, the better your speech.

Implications for practitioners: Evidence-based technological solutions may improve the accessibility of speech intervention for children.

Funding: This research was supported by an AMP Tomorrow Maker award to Kirrie Ballard. Beena Ahmed and Kirrie Ballard are co-founders of UCanSay66, trading as Say66 Pty Ltd, and created the SayBananas! App, which can be purchased online.

Key words: children’s voices, families’ voices, professionals’ voices, communication, regional/rural communities, international communities

This presentation relates to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:


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