Speech Therapy via Teletherapy
We all use our computers, iPad and phones to connect with one another socially, complete a variety of tasks in our daily lives, and even work remotely. Technology offers an infinite number of possibilities, all at our fingertips. Through teletherapy, access to speech and language therapy sessions is one of these possibilities. Teletherapy or telepractice is the delivery of speech-language services via technology which offers audio and visual communication. These sessions have the potential to target a variety of speech and language goals.Teletherapy can be used for assessment and observation, intervention in the form of therapy sessions, and consultation. Articulation of speech sounds, a variety of language, literacy, parent training and social goals can be supported through teletherapy sessions.
This therapy model allows access to services from a distance, and minimizes time and location constraints.This is a great way to continue therapy sessions when extenuating circumstances prevent you from having an in-person session with a Speech-Language Pathologist, or when your community or school does not have an SLP nearby.Teletherapy can be implemented in schools, medical/health centres and hospitals, clinics, home environments, etc. There are no limits on where it may be practiced, as long as the delivery of services is in accordance with regulations and policies mandated by the regulating body of the profession. Teletherapy sessions MUST maintain a level of quality which is equal to that of in-person therapy.
In addition to versatile delivery of services, teletherapy also allows the therapist to access a variety of materials and resources with the click of a button, meaning there is an endless amount of fun and engaging activities that may be included in a session! If a session needs to be modified as it unfolds, the therapist has easy access to new resources and can continuously tailor the session to each individual child. Since children currently tend to have a lot of access to technology and screen time, this therapy model is particularly motivating for them. The activities are versatile and fun as well, which also increases the motivation for children to engage with the clinician and the material, despite physical distance between client and clinician.
There are many platforms which may be used for teletherapy. Videoconferencing is the most common type of platform used for teletherapy, which allows an interactive component between client and clinician through real-time audio and video. Many teletherapy platforms or websites afford for synchronous communication – or the replication of an in-person therapy session – and adhere to necessary professional regulations and ethical standards. Teletherapy platforms can also be used to facilitate communication between an interdisciplinary team. For instance, Speech-Language Pathologists can hold meetings with parents and other team members such as teachers to collaborate on important matters such as IEPs and goal progression. Sessions can also be recorded and re-played, meaning that if your child is receiving teletherapy sessions while you are not present, you can still be involved by watching the session and implementing any relevant therapy techniques at home.
Parent-involvement in teletherapy is not only encouraged, but is critical! Many children can thrive using teletherapy as long as the appropriate supports are in place. When considering who may be a good candidate for teletherapy sessions, it is up to the Speech-Language Pathologist to use their clinical judgment. Clients using teletherapy must have the ability to attend to a computer screen and process what they are viewing throughout the session. Therapy sessions for younger children receiving play-based therapy can continue and can be tailored to child’s individual needs with necessary support from a parent/guardian. For some clients, a support person (i.e. parent or guardian) may only need to log their child into the platform, ensure the child is in the most favourable learning conditions, and remain present for the session. For other clients, a support person may need to take an active role in assisting the SLP with the session, whether that be helping to implement reinforcement throughout the session to help with the client’s morale, facilitating the completion the activities, or even assisting the client based on any impairments they may have. Having a support person take part in therapy is an essential part of making teletherapy a successful therapy model.
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (n.d.). Telepractice. Retrieved from https://www.asha.org/Practice-Portal/Professional-Issues/Telepractice https://www.asha.org/Practice-Portal/Professional-Issues/Telepractice/
California Speech Language Hearing Association. (2020, March 23). Teletherapy Bootcamp Web Conference. Retrieved from https://learn.speechtherapypd.com/teletherapy-bootcamp-ty/
Wales, D., Skinner, L., & Hayman, M. (2017). The Efficacy of Telehealth-Delivered Speech and Language Intervention for Primary School-Age Children: A Systematic Review. International Journal of Telerehabilitation, 9(1), 55–70. doi: 10.5195/ijt.2017.6219