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Harnessing Technology for Speech Therapy

Study Offers Hope and Insights for Parents of Autistic and Non-Verbal Children


Recent technological advancements, such as mobile devices and iPads, have introduced a groundbreaking therapeutic technique called Video-Assisted Speech Technology (VAST). This innovative approach combines video modeling, music therapy, and literacy

to facilitate the development of spoken language skills in non-verbal students.


VAST is a very simple method of using a video of a close-up model of the mouth and speaking simultaneously with it. This article explores the effectiveness of VAST and its potential to revolutionize speech therapy for individuals with autism and motor speech programming disorders.



Preliminary research indicates that combining VAST with mobile technology enhances attention to motor planning information for speech.


Initial pilot studies have shown that students engage with VAST videos

by mimicking lip movements and responding to the models. Within weeks, previously non-verbal students have started attempting words and showing improvements in generalizing skills during daily communication.


Video modeling has proven to be a rapid and highly effective method for teaching and generalizing new behaviors. By presenting visual models of desired actions, video modeling enhances learning and comprehension for individuals on the autism spectrum. Also, VAST incorporates visual language and literacy to improve reading and spelling abilities for individuals with speaking and writing difficulties. Visual processing of information facilitates understanding, preventing mislabeling and ensuring functional word usage.


 

"Initial pilot studies have shown that students engage with VAST videos by mimicking lip movements and responding to the models. Within weeks, previously non-verbal students have started attempting words and showing improvements in generalizing skills during daily communication."


 

As an innovative tool, VAST is a groundbreaking therapy that combines video modeling, written words, and auditory cues. It assists individuals with autism and motor speech programming disorders, such as apraxia, in acquiring vocabulary, phrases, and sentences.

This approach is particularly effective for individuals with strong visual skills, which significantly contributes to speech development.


iTherapy conducted a small-scale study that demonstrated the effectiveness of the VAST platform in enhancing functional speech and attention among autistic non-speaking participants. The research team measured and analyzed key metrics such as articulation accuracy, and Mean Length of Utterance (MLU). The participants demonstrated positive social skill improvements, showing heightened attentiveness and increased responses to social cues – such as increased eye gaze focused on parents and caregivers as they spoke.


Follow-up assessments conducted after the study's conclusion revealed sustained progress among participants. Therapists reported no regressions in functionality and observed the generalization of skills learned during the study. While some metrics showed modest improvements, larger sample sizes and longer study durations are needed to fully understand the technology's impact.


Video-Assisted Speech Technology (VAST) is an empowering approach for teaching spoken language to non-verbal students. By leveraging video modeling, literacy, and auditory cues, VAST provides unprecedented support for vocabulary development and communication skills. Ongoing research and pilot studies have shown promising results, including increased attention and speech attempts.

VAST has the potential to transform speech therapy and improve the quality of life for individuals with autism and motor speech programming disorders.



What Parents Can Do Today:

• VAST is very affordable and available on the Apple App Store and Boom Learning

• Parents can video their own mouths pronouncing words and short phrases

• Parents can zoom-in on a video to highlight the mouth movements


For more information on the VAST technique and research findings check out https://www.vastspeech.com/

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