Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thank Goodness for Speech Buddies!

Speech Buddies
Today, I am reviewing the product that seems to always be "the talk of the articulation" world right now. That product is Speech Buddies by Articulate Technologies Inc. The product was provided by Articulate Technologies Inc, but the opinions in this review are solely mine. No other additional compensation was received to complete the review. All of the pictures used are from the Speech Buddies Website and I do not claim them to be my own. I felt they were helpful for explaining the product and to enhance the presentation of this review.

There are 5 Speech Buddies in all!
CH Buddy -- Cheetah Buddy
SH Buddy -- Shark Buddy
S Buddy    -- Seal Buddy
R Buddy    -- Rabbit Buddy
L Buddy    -- Lion Buddy
For HIPPA reasons, I will not use real names in this review. They will be referred to as "student 1, student 2, student 3, student 4, student 5".

This is what the entire set looks like when it arrives! The first thing my husband said when it came was "Can I have the case?" Of course I said NO! Anyways, they come in a very professional presentation and my students really liked how they came in a "tiny briefcase".

Before I started with the Speech Buddies:
I first reviewed the manual for all of the Speech Buddies. I read it from front to back. For the purpose of this review, I only used 1 buddy per student. I watched every video on the Speech Buddies website and I read other reviews of the product. I inspected each tool and was sure I knew how each worked prior to using it with one of my students. I read most of the articles on the website and the supporting research articles.
Here are the instruction manuals for you to take a look at:
Cheetah Instruction Manual
Lion Instruction Manual
Rabbit Instruction Manual
Professional Set Instruction Manual
Seal Instruction Manual
Shark Instruction Manual

Cleaning the Speech Buddies:
There are ways to clean the Speech Buddies if you choose to use them with more than one student. I am not going to release how I cleaned the Speech Buddies. Here are some suggestions I have seen from other bloggers/reviewers. I used one or more of the following:
1) Immerse the Speech Buddy in 75%-90% Isopropyl Alcohol
2) Use Clorox Germicidal Disinfecting Wipes according to the directions on the container.
3) Use Super Sani-Cloth Disposable Wipes according to the directions on the contrainer. 
4) Soap and hot water.
I HIGHLY suggest you speak with your school nurse/administration prior to using this item with multiple students. This will only protect you and your students. My administration was very open to the idea. I have only heard of a few cases where the school nurse did not allow use with multiple students. I also discussed the use of the Speech Buddies product with my students parent's to ensure I had their ok since it was a tool that would require additional cleaning. My student's parents were very receptive to the product and wanted to know if it ended up working because they were interested in buying one for home use. Since I work in the hospital setting as well, I consulted with a Infection Control Physician to see what his suggestions were for cleaning this tool for multiple student/patient use. For those that work in the healthcare portion of speech pathology, I recommend consulting your Infection Control department to see what their recommendations are prior to multiple patient use. If possible, my main recommendatioin would be for parents to buy the set or an individual speech buddy and send the speech buddy back and forth to school or clinic. I did have one parent that wanted to do that. You can check out how they recommend to clean the tools HERE.

Before I started the student with the Speech Buddy tool:
The student and I watched the (their specific sound) Speech Buddy video on the website together, so the student would know what was going to happen and where I would be placing the Speech Buddy and how her tongue should move. This helped the student understand prior to even using the tool. I used gloves and placed gloves on the student as well. (My student LOVED that). We looked over the tool and then began.

Student 1- Cheetah Tool
Student 1 used the Cheetah Buddy (CH tool). Student 1 is a 3rd grade student with errors on the SH/CH sound with all other sounds being ok. It took a little bit of getting used to the product for the student. The student was nervous. I placed the tool in the student's mouth and verified positioning, then had the student make the CH sound in isolation. This tool had an immediate effect on the student in isolation. After using the product in isolation for 10 minutes (with frequent rest breaks), I had the student produce the CH sound at the word level using the tool. It took about 4-5 twenty minute sessions to where the CH sound was noticeably different. However, this was the most accurate productions of the CH sound I have heard from the student to date. Overall impression: the student is defintely making faster progress than without the speech buddy tool.

Student 2-  Shark Tool
Student 2 used the Shark Buddy (SH tool). Student 2 is a 8th grader with Down's Syndrome diagnosis with a really long skinny tongue. This particular student was SOO excited to use this product because the student has a desire to be a dentist assistant when the student is ready for a career, so the student was excited to "pretend to be a dentist". This student demonstrated a lot of difficulty with the speech buddy at first and I suspect that is because the tongue is so long. It took a lot of instruction to teach him how to "bunch" his tongue. This instruction was easier using the SH speech buddy video on the website, the app from Pocket SLP (the Speech Tutor) and watching me complete the sound. After 12 twenty minute sessions using the Speech Buddy, the student caught on and there was like a light bulb switch that occured. The student just "got it". The student explained that he needed to bunch the tongue in a "weird way" to get it to where I said "yes that's it!". At that point, I took the Shark Buddy away and the student was even able to find the sound without the tool. Over the next few sessions (after the original 12), the tool was used off and on to gain consistency.
Overall impression: difficult for the student to get used to, but in the end successful! 

Student 3: Lion Tool
Student 3 used the Lion Speech Buddy (L tool). This student was a 1st grader with a mild articulation disorder. This student has been struggling to move from isolation level to word level with the L phoneme. I first has the student use the tool for the L in isolation so the student could get a feel for what the tool would feel like. Turns out incorporating the tool did not change the student's production of the L in isolation. This made me very happy because that meant the student was already making the L using the correct positioning. After 3 twenty minute sessions, the student was producing a better production of the L speech sound. After 6 twenty sessions, the L sound at the word level was at over 90% accuracy with and without the tool. We then moved onto phrases and the student's accuracies are improving. We occasionally place the tool back in the student's mouth as a reminder. Turns out that it helps as a reminder in itself.
Overall impression: After multiple trials, the student was succesful using the tool at the word level.

Student 4: Seal Tool

Student 4 used the Seal Speech Buddy (S Tool). Student 4 is a 1st grader that has difficulty with S and S Blends. There was definetly some lisping and lateral airflow going on with this student. This Seal Tool had an immediate effect on the student in isolation. However, we are still working on using the tool at the word level. At this point, I think some of his oral structure is impeding on the production of the S sound at the word level due to missing teeth and transitioning from the S in isolation to S+vowel at the word level.
Overll impression: The student responded to the tool immediately with isolation production of the S sound, but continues to struggle at the word level.

Student 5: Rabbit Tool

Student 5 used the Rabbit Speech Buddy (R tool). This student is an 8th grader that has struggled producing the R sound at the word level for a long time!! We were about to dismiss the student due to lack of progress. I used the R tool with her as a last ditch effort and I am GLAD I did! It was pretty much amazing. I had the student produce the R sound in isolation using the R buddy alone for 1 20 minute session using frequent breaks, so muscle memory would start. We just said "r, r, r, r,". It was a rather boring session, but I wanted to do something drastic. The next 20 minute session I had with the student, I had the student move to R at the word level. The student did it-first try! We both smiled so big! I had the student read multiple pages of words using the R buddy. The next 20 minute session, I had the student say R in isolation. The production of the R sound in isolation continued to be good. The next was what I was waiting for. We tried R at the word level- it was nearly perfect. It was like all along the student just needed that "quick guide" for what her tongue was supposed to do. We then moved on the phrase and sentence level with the same great accuracies. The student continues to occasional have an error at the conversational level, but it is rare compared to the productions of the R sound before. We now are going to dimiss the student based on accuracies of the sound and not based on lack of progress.
Overall impression: It was a miracle worker for this student.
The R Buddy was by far my favorite tool because unlike the others, it demonstrated the "functional movement" of the tongue while producing the speech sound. I didn't realize that the tool did that until I received it. Honestly, I was really wondering how in the world it was going to give a specific spot for the R sound. But the way the tool is designed, it allows for a specific movement to be modeled and repeated without impeding other oral movements. That was impressive!

When you order a Speech Buddy or Speech Buddies Professional Set, you will also have access to Speech Buddies University. This is a portion of the website where you can set up practice sessioins for your students. There are beginning, intermediate and advanced lessions.  This is what the lesson would look like if you were using the "SH speech buddies" portion of Speech Buddies University. Sign up for Speech Buddies University HERE

Next there is a Speech Buddies Blog that offers a lot of information on speech pathology in general. My blog has been linked up within the Speech Buddies blog once featuring a blog post on pediatric games. Check of their blog HERE.


Above is a video from the Speech Buddies Blog that is a good introduction of the product. This is the video I showed the parents of the students I was going to use the Speech Buddies with, so they would be well informed what was going to be happening with their children. There are many other videos on YouTube that show other professionals and their views of the product.

For more information on how to purchase Speech Buddies, you can visit that portion of the website HERE. They just updated their pricing to where there is special school pricing and bundles! They also accept purchase orders at the time this review was written. You can check out the special school prices HERE.
Overall, I was very impressed with the products. I had much better success with them than what the student's were producing without them. I think this would be a great supplementary tool to any program- healthcare or school based. My students really liked putting on gloves and using instruments. They really thought they were extra special by being able to use these products.

Read about the developers HERE. I have regularly seen Gordy (the  respond on message boards and chat rooms for the Speech Buddies on various websites I have come accross while "googling" and reasearching the Speech Buddies product. I like that he is involved in those types of modalities as I have seen people express wrong information in those forums/message boards.

I hope you enjoyed this review of the product! Have you used the Speech Buddy products? What do you think of them? What have you heard about the tools? What was something you learned from this review that you did not know before?

Amy @


  1. Loved this post. I had not seen the video which helped me understand everything a bit better! I believe this could really help the handful of speech only articulation middle school students on my caseload. Thank you.

  2. You just confirmed and increased my desire to own these. This was an amazing review! Now to figure out how to purchase these from my own pocket, as my district doesn't buy anything :(. My students and I need these. Where there is a will there is a way :). You rock!!!

  3. I work with 7th and 8th grade students. Many come to me with lateral /s/, lisp, and the never ending /r/. Do you continue to feel these were worth the money? Do you still like the /r/ the best?

    1. Yes I do feel they are still worth the money. I feel like I use the /r/ most just because I get a lot of students that continue to work on /r/ at the secondary level. The only other one I use is the /s/, just because by the time the students reach me at the junior high level they have pretty much mastered all of the other sounds!