Speech Impairments and Speech-Generating Devices

What Is a Speech-Generating Device?

A speech-generating device (SGD) typically refers to a mid to high-tech device that outputs speech for the user. There are a wide variety of devices for children and adults with speech impairments to choose from based on different sizes and features to fit the individual's needs. Most SGDs look similar to an iPad with an array of pictures that can be selected and paired with a word for the user to communicate with multiple communication partners across a variety of environments.

Although SGDs can be used by children and adults, this article focuses specifically on a child's need and use of a SGD.

Who Should Utilize a Speech-Generating Device?

  1. Children with minimal verbal output
  2. Children with highly unintelligible speech
  3. Children with severe speech impairments
  4. Children with apraxia

Why Should a Child Utilize a Speech-Generating Device?

  1. To interact socially with multiple communication partners
  2. To obtain basic wants and needs
  3. To decrease frustration and unwanted behaviors
  4. To bridge the gap between expressive and receptive language
  5. For emergency situations

Will a Speech-Generating Device Hinder Development?

  1. The most common belief towards utilizing a communication device is that it will replace the child's natural speech production. Research has shown that communication devices do NOT stop natural speech development. In fact, SGDs do just the opposite for children. SGDs help support speech development. Children will always use speech when they can since this is typically the easiest and most efficient form of communication. A SGD is there to help support communication when a child is unable to verbally communicate a clear message to others in their environment. This helps decrease the amount and intensity of outbursts and meltdowns due to frustrations because they can get their wants and needs met in a timely manner. It also helps them learn age-appropriate vocabulary that is programmed onto their device. Children will be able to hear the word selected aloud every time they press each button giving them more exposure to words throughout the day.

How Do I Receive a Speech-Generating Device?

  1. Talk with your Speech-Language Pathologist to schedule an evaluation for a speech-generating device. Some insurances will cover partial and even all of the cost towards a SGD!

-Lexie Jones, M.A., CCC-SLP