Amazon Echo and Siri: An Unexpected Way to Practice Speech Skills (from a guy with cerebral palsy)

Because of being born with cerebral palsy, in school I saw a speech pathologist all the way to my junior year just to practice my speech and to develop better speech muscles.
As an adult with cerebral palsy there have been points in my life where my family has told me that I needed to start practicing my speech again. That task is difficult without hiring a speech pathologist myself because when I talk, I don’t hear what everyone else hears, to me it’s as clear as day.

Then I bought my first Amazon Echo Dot last year (I bought the Dot versus the full blown Echo just because I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to use it). After about a week of trying to use it, I finally just unplugged it and through it in a drawer because it only understood me about half of the time.

But then I busted it back out earlier this summer and started to force myself to use it for certain things. I didn’t realize it but by forcing myself to use it for tasks like, “Echo, wake me up at 6:00” or waking up and saying, “Echo, play my flash briefing” or “Echo, remind me…” what I’m actually doing is practicing my speech with the Echo providing the most important thing in practicing: feedback. If the Echo does what I want it to do, I know I said the command clearly enough, if it doesn’t, I have to sit there and repeat myself until it gets it right.

Once I realized what I was doing, I went ahead and turned on “Hey Siri” on my iPad (since it’s the device that I’m mostly on at home). Now whenever I want to turn on music, or some other basic tasks, I make myself speak the command, therefore practicing even more.

So if you have a child or loved one with a speech impediment, low key buy them an Echo Dot for $40 to get them to unconsciously practice their speech.