New Speech Therapy Tool Invented by Mom
There’s a new speech therapy tool on the market, but it wasn’t invented by a big company. It was invented by Laura Kasbar, a mother of seven who was frustrated with her children’s lack of progress with traditional speech therapy. Kasbar is the mother of twins who both have autism, and she wanted to figure out a better way to help them learn to speak correctly.
Her solution was to invent a whole new tool. She soon came up with Gemiini, a web-based speech therapy program that shows children how to articulate words correctly by showing them short videos of mouths speaking. When children with speech difficulties are able to watch these videos closely while reading the phonetic word, it helps them with both reading and speaking. The children can watch themselves in the mirror trying to copy the mouth on the screen and improve their speech in the process.
This teaching technique is known as discrete video modeling, in which desired behaviors are learned by watching a video demonstration and then imitating the behavior shown on the screen. It is used in many teaching disciplines, but is increasingly popular as a teaching tool for children with autism. It should be noted that this program will most likely not work best if used by itself. But when used in conjunction with a good school program and other behavioral and learning therapies, Gemiini can be an excellent tool.
Gemiini also helps children with Down’s Syndrome, who also sometimes have speech difficulties. Other groups who may benefit from the program include stroke survivors, people who have dementia, and people with traumatic brain injury, to name a few.
Because it is web-based, there is no lengthy wait to begin therapy—children can start watching the videos right away. The videos can be viewed on any kind of device, whether desktop, tablet, or mobile phone, and there are over 60,000 available. There is a price for accessing the therapy (currently $98 per month) but there are scholarships available. Kasbar is currently working with healthcare providers to try to get the Gemiini system covered by medical insurance in order to lessen the cost of the therapy even more. She is hoping to gain coverage not only for children with autism and Down Syndrome, but also the adult groups mentioned above that could benefit from using it.
Kasbar believes this could be a huge help to people struggling with articulation, and says her own children are her proof that it works. Her formerly non-verbal twins are now thriving in college, and she wants others to do just as well.