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Should I Buy My Child a Tablet to Help Him Communicate?

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Children’s Speech Therapy Center

Dear Children’s Speech Therapy Center,

I’ve seen other children using tablets to tell their parents what they want. Should I buy my child a tablet to help him talk? Will a tablet stop him from communicating verbally?

— Concerned Parent

Dear Concerned Parent,

Tablets and apps have become very popular items for increasing communication across the age span. They can be helpful tools when used appropriately and will improve the likelihood of verbal communication, rather than impede it. When our children hear the app’s voice output, sometimes they will attempt to imitate it, just like they do while watching TV. For these reasons, tablets, and communication devices are excellent resources to build communication in our children who are non-verbal or limited verbal communicators.

However, not all communication apps are created equally; some are very expensive while others are low cost, some offer many features that could apply to your child’s needs while others have features that may be unnecessary or confusing for your child. It is important to evaluate each app individually and become familiar with it yourself before expecting your child to use it. Consider your child’s attention span, is he able to follow 1 and 2 step directions without being distracted? Also, consider your attention span, are you able to encourage and wait for your child to respond using a tablet instead of gesturing? Does your child understand picture or symbolic representations? If not, there are ways to build these skills before implementing an alternative communication system.

If you are considering an alternative means of communication for your child, it is important to involve a speech-language pathologist who is knowledgeable in this area. By adding an SLP to your team, we will be able to figure out the best method for your child’s individual needs. There are many aspects to communication beyond requesting; however, this is a common starting place for tablet usage. As a team, we can figure out the ways your child is currently communicating and how to build upon these skills with the use of technology.

Kristen Jones M.A. CCC-SLP, CSTC Co-Director


Children’s Speech Therapy Center (CSTC) is a well-known private practice specializing in pediatric speech therapy and conveniently located in Ashburn, VA. When your child needs a speech and language professional, navigating all your options can be time-consuming and frustrating!

Let Children’s Speech Therapy Center help! Their team provides diagnostic and therapeutic services including screenings, evaluations, and therapy for all ages, from infancy to adolescence. From more routine challenges to complex conditions, their team of licensed and accredited speech language pathologists are prepared to help with your child's unique speech and language needs.

Learn more, including what insurances they accept, by connecting: Online | Facebook | Services | FAQs | Contact.

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