Speech and language disorders are common issues among children, with one in 10 having some type of speech difficulty.
Experts believe there can be different issues that make it hard for kids to express themselves verbally. However, the condition can be cured with proper therapy.
Pratiksha Gupta, a speech-language pathologist and audiologist, who has been offering services in speech therapy to children and adults since 2002, observed the rising cases of speech and language disorders among Indians.
Gupta, who was working with National Health Service, UK, decided to come back to her country. She returned in 2009 and set up a speech therapy centre in Noida, NCR.
The therapy centre continued to run for four years, till Gupta had to move to a different city and thus shut down the centre.
1SpecialPlace: Going global
In 2014, Gupta restarted the service with email programmes for children with speech difficulties.
Late in 2015, she decided to take the service online with 1SpecialPlace.com.
“We are an online platform which caters to individuals with speech, language and cognitive difficulties,” said Gupta, Founder and CEO, 1SpecialPlace.com.
The online portal enables easy access to products and services to detect, diagnose and treat speech disorders.
The company also has a mobile app called Speech Doctor for online speech therapy programmes.
She explained that it is basically a yes/no questionnaire which any parent or professional can take to detect speech and language delays in children. At the end of the test, results are decoded in an easy to understand red, yellow or green format, with further recommendations and suggestions.
If a child scored in red, the parent can directly contact the service for a complete diagnostic evaluation or therapy, which is done online by a team of experts using an interactive video software. Besides, via the app, a user can also read up information and access DIY activities to help the child at home.
1SpecialPlace, which started offering online therapy services in 2016, claimed in 2017 to have doubled the number of sessions conducted earlier.
The platform also has other allied online services such as occupational therapy, special education and counselling, all of which form an effective multidisciplinary approach towards treating speech and cognitive difficulties.
“We have a presence in over 10 countries and have conducted over 2,000 online therapy sessions on our platform. Our apps have been downloaded 50,000 times worldwide. We have a global team of over 10 therapists who specialize in speech therapy, counseling, occupational therapy and special education,” said Gupta.
The platform works on an online utility model where customers can purchase the service they need. It also has a partial advertising model where it hosts a few ads on its free app.
Spreading awareness through trial
Gupta observes that the biggest challenge she faces is spreading awareness and acceptance of online speech therapy among potential users.
“People are not aware of how online therapy is done and how it can alleviate their problems. To overcome this issue, we offer free trials to all our new clients before they sign up for our service,” she said.
Early bird gets the worm
1SpecialPlace is an early mover in the online speech therapy space and has little competition.
Gupta is grabbing the space at a fast pace and plans to leave no stone unturned to capture the largest market share.
“Amidst our share of highs and lows, we are moving ahead with progressive steps. Our team of therapists and customer base is expanding and we are all set to work harder to provide enhanced and quality help to all the families we work with. In the future, we want to tap more locations in India and abroad so as to extend our unique service and products,” said Gupta.