How Teletherapy Works
Welcome to Teletherapy at Bright Spot!
For those of you who haven’t yet heard, the Bright Spot Therapy Services office has been closed for almost two weeks due to the concerns surrounding COVID-19. We certainly did not see this coming and we are doing our absolute best to adjust to all the business and lifestyle changes that are taking place - something I’m sure many, if not all of you, can relate to!
One of the adjustments we have made involved moving our therapy services, which we typically offer in person, to an online platform. Online service provision is known as teletherapy, telepractice, or telehealth. As technology has advanced continuously over the last couple of decades, teletherapy has emerged as alternate means for service provision and is still a relatively new medium for speech therapy delivery. However, it’s easy to see why telehealth would be a great option in many instances, such as in the emergency social distancing we are all experiencing. For example, teletherapy can allow service providers to access under-serviced areas (think rural communities without easy access to services!).
What is Teletherapy?
Teletherapy is the use of technology to deliver therapy services, including assessment and treatment, from a distance (ASHA, 2013).
At Bright Spot Therapy Services, we use a platform call Zoom. Zoom is similar to Skype or FaceTime, but it allows us to add security and privacy measures to protect our clients. It also allows us to share our screens with our students - this is ⚠️ important ⚠️ because we can share games and activities with our young clients to keep the session engaging and interactive, even from a distance!
What you need to know…
Worried about your child not being able to sit still and pay attention to teletherapy?
Worry not! Just like we therapists have strategies to engage busy children in our therapy rooms, we have strategies to try with busy kiddos receiving therapy through the computer. This is additionally one of the reasons that we ask parents/caregivers to be present while their child receives teletherapy. Having a parent or caregiver physically present and able to redirect a busy child can be very helpful for teletherapy delivery.
Telepractice can be interactive by incorporating engaging games where children can manipulate materials on the screen.
Shorter and more frequent sessions are now possible through telepractice. For children with reduced attention, this option may be more ideal than longer face-to-face sessions. More frequent sessions is also advantageous for children with motor speech or articulation challenges (Willingham, 2002).
Parent coaching is a therapeutic technique used to support speech and language development in young children (including children with ASD and late talkers) [Douglas et al., 2018; Inbar-Furst et al., 2020]. Parent coaching is frequently delivered via teletherapy. Using this model, a parent or caregiver engages in play with their young child, and a therapist observing via telepractice gives feedback directly to the parent/caregiver to help them elicit communication from their child. This model is particularly great because parents and caregivers get to carry the strategies and feedback they receive from parent coaching into every communication context!
Finally, it is important to note that there is a body of evidence to support telepractice. Telepractice can be as effective as therapy provided in person (Coufal et al., 2018; Grogan-Johnson et al., 2013; McGill et al., 2019). We therapists are using the same strategies and techniques we use in person - the only thing different about the sessions is the medium of delivery!
If you are interested in teletherapy, or are looking for more information, please feel free to reach out to us - we will be happy to help!
Stay safe and healthy! We hope to see you soon!
From - Ms. Keely & Ms. Rachel
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA; 2013). Telepractice: Overview. https://www.asha.org/Practice-Portal/Professional-Issues/Telepractice/.
Coufal, K. et al., (2018). Comparing traditional service delivery and telepractice for speech sound production using a functional outcome measure. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 27(1), 82-90. https://doi.org/10.1044/2017_AJSLP-16-0070.
Douglas, S.N. et al., (2018). Online parent training to support children with complex communication needs. Infants & Young Children, 30(4), 299-303. doi: 10.1097/IYC.0000000000000101.
Grogan-Johnson, S. et al., (2013). A comparison of speech sound intervention delivered by telepractice and side-by-side service delivery models. Communication Disorders Quarterly, 34(4), 210-220. https://doi.org/10.1177/1525740113484965.
Inbar-Furst, H., Douglas, S.N. & Meadan, H. (2020). Promoting Caregiver Coaching Practices Within Early Intervention: Reflection and Feedback. Early Childhood Educ J 48, 21–27. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-019-00980-2.
McGill, M., Noureal, N., & Siegel, J. (2019). Telepractice treatment of stuttering: A systematic review. Telemedicine and e-Health, 25(5), 359-368. http://doi.org/10.1089/tmj.2017.0319.
Willingham, D (2002) Allocating Student Study Time: Massed versus “Distributed”
Practice American Educator