On the first anniversary of the GingoTalk, Petra and Meta share with you a personal confession of how they found themselves where they are now. They are dedicated with all their heart and soul to creating and passing on knowledge in the field of speech therapy. They say it is slowly getting far, which is often told to parents of children who have speech and language problems.
Why did you create this innovative product?
The co-founders of the GingoTalk are speech therapists who work in speech therapy clinics for children. It’s known that that up to 30% of preschool children have problems in one of the areas of speech and language development and the percentage is still rising. We noticed with this problem during our everyday practice and we are both want to contribute our part to resolve this problem or at least stable this growing trend.
Based on the needs of daily practice, we firstly made Slovenian speech therapy cards “VEM-POVEM” and dedicated instruction manual for proper work with them. Each package includes 300 cards, arranged according to the individual voice of the Slovenian language. The cards are aimed to reinforce in-game communication, set-up sentence structure and promote phonological awareness. With “VEM-POVEM” cards we also touch the problematic of development disabilities and these cards can be also the base for augumentative and alternative communication.
The creation of this professional accessory is supported with an attractive, playful green mascot called “Gingo”. As it has been shown in practice that children cooperate better during games, we decided to develop a very special doll with a long tongue and a moving mouth, through which we can encourage children to repeat movements that are appropriate for promoting oral-motor skills movement.
We tested our idea, our puppet on a random sample of children and responses were really fantastic. We also added cards with written and visual exercises to strengthen the motor skills of speech (in three languages: Slovenian, English and German), which provide parents and professionals with insights into the exercises and allow them to guide them during the excercises. The puppet effectively guide and encourage the child to repeat movements and exhalations that are important for the utterance of certain voices.
How does your innovation work in practice?
At the backside of Gingo puppet is openning in which we insert our hand and move its mouth, and at the same time we can also insert a finger into the tongue, through which the tongue becomes movable.
The puppet can initially be used to make contact with the child (e.g. a child with an autism spectrum disorder has difficulty in directing attention to the eyes, mouth and face), the child can explore Gingo’s mouth, examine teeth, the puppet responds – the child may sting, he laughs out loud or makes a “aaa” sound with his mouth wide open. If the child shows a desire to continue the activity, we can set as a goal any interaction between the child-puppet or a possible encouragement to vocalize “aaa”.
Gingo can be represented as being very hungry and wanting to eat. Since it is green, I would like to eat a lot of green. We thus encourage the child to look for green things through concrete material, name them, and put them in its mouth. Of course, Gingo chews a lot and because he has soiled his teeth, it has to clean them. But he forgot to buy a toothbrush! That’s why he performs “cleaning” with his tongue – with oral-motor exercises.
A puppet is a great tool for overcoming distress and emotional problems when a child is overly restrained in a group or individual therapy. Gingo is such a fun character that it often falls, gets hit, often makes mistakes, can be sleepy or extremely happy (e.g. when we want to lift a child’s mood and overcome fear).
Gingo can also be a character who loves to exercise, but not with his arms or legs, but with his “tongue”. So he starts to show how he learned to lift his tongue to his nose, but he may fail on the first try, so he tries two, three more times… unsuccessfully. So he encourage the child to show him who has a bigger tongue, who can lift it and do similar things. With Gingo we can show also the things, which he/it is not able to do them, o’course always as funny thing. Sometimes, however, he only succeeds, especially when a child successfully shows him an exercise.
Children identify with Gingo, because they often cannot repeat all the exercises, especially if they have major speech problems. In the following part of practice, we present to the child the story that they will now exercise together – the accompanying exercise cards are a guide for both adults (parents and professionals) and children.
How has it been spreading?
We presented the Gingo puppet mainly by parents, educators, teachers, special pedagogues and speech therapists from Slovenia. In recent months, we have noticed the interests for our Gingo also on other markets, especially in Croatia, Germany, Spain and Norway. We are pretty sure that children all over the Europe can benefit from our innovation and we want to expand it worldwide.
If I want to try it, what should I do?
Get in touch with us. Check out our website www.gingotalk.com, FB or IG GingoTalk profile. We are ready to cooperate with educational as well as health care institutions, individual therapists, teachers and other professionals. If you have an idea of how we could cooperate, we are open to questions and suggestions. Don’t hestitate to contact us!