In March 2020, after over twenty five years of face-to-face speech and language therapy, I took the leap into virtual online therapy. Unlike past career choices teeming with limitless possibilities, it was clear there was only one option. To continue supporting my clients, I would have to make the switch to Teletherapy. Challenge accepted!
Transitions are a good time to take stock.
- I had experience offering online accent reduction training.
- I was familiar with the Zoom platform.
- I owned a high quality microphone and noise-cancelling headphones.
- I was a member of a profession dominated by creative, resourceful and collaborative colleagues.
We were (and still are) in a global pandemic. The air was heavy with anxiety and uncertainty. I informed each client of my plan to pivot my service delivery model to Teletherapy keeping them updated and supported every step of the way. I was committed to providing them with high quality intervention. I used the next two weeks to research, train, and prepare for a transition to the lesser known world of Teletherapy.
Many other SLPs had already taken the dive into Teletherapy years back. The research was promising. Studies confirmed that word learning and generalization to different contexts was equivalent across face-to-face and virtual interactions with toddlers. And young children with autism improved their vocabulary and sentence length equally whether their parents received coaching face-to-face or via Teletherapy.
I quickly learned…
That I could do almost everything I did in face-to-face sessions using an online platform.
- Provide direct therapy incorporating a client’s interests.
- Individualize therapy approaches to suit each family’s needs.
- Create interactive activities allowing clients to control or mark up the screen.
- Teach clients how to pronounce new speech sounds.
- Parent/caregiver consultation and coaching.
- Track progress.
- Develop and review customized home programs.
That there were many advantages of Teletherapy.
- Clients receive services in familiar and comfortable spaces.
- Simplified schedules result in improved attendance and more consistent therapy.
- Therapy is provided using a medium children and adults are comfortable with.
- We can access any number of activities with a computer.
- Increased accessibility to services for families living further from city centres.
- Increased parental involvement and thus increased carry-over of new skills.
- Therapists can do almost everything they did previously while helping to protect clients’ health and safety.
“It’s not where you take things from, it’s where you take things to.”
The transition to a new service delivery model was an opportunity to learn new skills, but has turned out to be so much more. Pivoting allows for a fresh start . It opens new doors and possibilities. The potential for growth is unlimited. I experienced more patience, curiosity, understanding, excitement, creativity and flexibility over the last six months than I ever expected. And, becoming professionally accessible to a more extensive region is exciting.
Click HERE to learn more about my Teletherapy services.
For further reading:
Hao, Y., Franco, J.H., Sundarrajan, M., & Chen, Y. (2020). A pilot study comparing tele-therapy and in-person therapy: Perspectives from parent-mediated intervention for children with autism spectrum disorders.
Roseberry, S., Hirsh-Pasek, K., & Golinkoff, R. (2014). Skype me! Socially Contingent Interactions Help Toddlers Learn Language.