Developed and marketed by Scientific Learning Corporation, the Fast ForWord programs consist of nine language and reading programs. Fast ForWord Language, the company’s first and most widely known program, aims to improve a child’s auditory processing skills through a series of seven exercises. The interactive games aim to strengthen a child’s cognitive skills, which the company refers to as “learning MAPS”: memory, attention, processing and sequencing. By developing these cognitive areas, company literature states, struggling readers form a solid foundation by sharpening listening accuracy, phonological awareness and language structures.
The program, which requires high-quality headphones and a computer, is most appropriate for children ages 4 to 14 though it can be used with significantly older children who need a stronger auditory processing foundation. The program can be administered at home, at school or in a clinic setting. Children spend between 50 and 100 minutes five days per week on the program for a period of four to 12 weeks, according to Scientific Learning. The intensity of the protocol, according to Scientific Learning, is the key to positive and long-lasting effects on brain development.
Though intense, Fast ForWord practitioners point to the flexibility and ease of use as some of the program’s best features. The program alerts administrators if a child is having trouble with any area. The software then will give the provider a list of several different activities to implement to help move a child forward.
Other professionals say that they have a comfort level with the program because it has substantial research backing up its efficacy. Fees for the program range between $1,500 to $4,000, depending on whether the program is administered at home or in a clinic. In some cases, Fast ForWord is offered by the school district at no direct cost to the family.
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