Diagnosis Destinations  Specific Language Impairment  Fast ForWord

By Dr. Paula Tallal

Fast ForWord is now a whole series of programs designed to work on the many foundational skills that both cognitive and neuroscience research has shown to be essential for both oral and written language development. All of our programs are unique as they adapt trial- by -trial to each individual's needs, providing highly individualized training. Scientific Learning now has one or more programs that are appropriate for preschoolers through adults.

The Fast ForWord family of training programs begins with a program called Fast ForWord-Basics, which is appropriate for typically developing preschool age children, as well as for children struggling with speech, language learning and/or reading readiness skills. Fast ForWord-Basics can be purchased directly by parents and provided without the need of a certified professional on a home computer. Fast ForWord-Basics is also used by professionals to help preschool age children as well as older children with severe language learning impairments to learn the basic skills needed to be able to be successful with the higher- level Fast ForWord training programs. Fast ForWord-Basics is even more effective when used in combination with the Scientific Learning Bookshelf. This is a series of story books that has been specially designed to help children hear the most confusing sounds within English, in the context of fun to listen to children's stories. The Bookshelf comes in a parent's version as well as a professional version. Only the professional version presents the stories with our patented "acoustically modified speech".

Fast ForWord training programs use "acoustically modified speech". This is speech that has been computer modified to exaggerate and enhance the brief, critical acoustic events that differentiates one speech sound from another. Over 30 years of research have shown that many children struggling with speech, language and reading skills have great difficulty distinguishing
the brief acoustic events within speech. Fast ForWord programs are the only programs designed to explicitly address this difficult aspect of speech, while at the same time "cross-training" the many other foundational skills necessary for proficient speech, language and reading acquisition.

That is why the Fast ForWord training programs have often been referred to as "glasses for the ears". The goal of Fast ForWord training is to individually adapt the training for each participant. In this way each individual will be able to rely less and less on this acoustically modified speech as training progresses. The goal is to end up with the ability to complete increasing more difficult exercises with normal speech.

Fast ForWord-Language is the program most people refer to when they talk about Fast ForWord training, as it was our original training program. This program has been used successfully now with nearly 150,000 children and has been shown to be extremely effective in improving various components of speech and language skills, which are fundamental building blocks for reading. Fast ForWord- Language is appropriate for children 5 years and older. There is a special version of Fast ForWord- Language developed for older children and adults, which is called Fast ForWord - Middle and High School.

Once individuals have completed Fast ForWord- Language, they an progress on to the next level program called Fast ForWord- Language to Reading. This program has been explicitly designed to train the fundamental skills needed to learn to connect oral sounds with written symbols, in increasingly complex contexts, beginning with single sound/letter correspondence and culminating with comprehending connected stories.

The newest Fast ForWord training program is called Fast ForWord-Reading. This program has been designed by reading experts who have focused on the many essential aspects of reading that are included on many of the state-wide reading achievement tests.
In addition to this now broad series of training programs, Scientific Learning also offers a computerized individual reading assessment program called Reading Edge. Using this simple to administer assessment, which seems like a computer game to the child, a parent or professional can rapidly assess an individuals current reading skills. The program gives immediate feedback as to what level an individual is at in terms of their readiness for reading.

Further information about all of these programs as well as the research behind them can be found on the Scientific Learning Corp website (http://www.scientificlearning.com). You can also find a list of professional Fast ForWord providers on this site, as well as information as to how to have your child's school acquire the Fast ForWord training programs.