Teletherapy What is it? Can it work for my child?
The private speech and language therapists at SpeechRight have always offered teletherapy but it has generally been with those clients who live outside Nottinghamshire/abroad. However, now with the coronavirus outbreak and the ensuing restrictions on social contacts and distancing, teletherapy is becoming our main means of meeting our clients’ speech and language therapy needs.
Teletherapy is using technology to link a SpeechRight private therapist with the client in a separate location i.e. their home. This prevents the risk of both the private therapist and the client from catching/spreading the virus as there is no need to leave your home.
Private therapists at SpeechRight use ‘Zoom’ to connect with their clients. Zoom is GDPR compliant and data protected. It is a safe and secure environment for completing speech and language therapy sessions encrypting the information that is shared. Each SpeechRight private therapist also has a virtual ‘waiting room’ for the client to be admitted to the session and every client needs a password to enter. This ensures that nobody but the intended users can access the session.
Some parents may be concerned that they will not be able to manage setting up a Zoom session (especially if they are a technophobe like me!). However, do not worry, the process is very simple and easy to complete (even I managed to do it first time!). Only the SpeechRight private therapist needs a Zoom account; clients do not have to create an account or ‘join’ Zoom. All that is required is to download the Zoom mobile/tablet app or the Windows or Mac desktop application. This is easy, quick and free!
When it is time for your child’s session, you click on the Zoom link that your SpeechRight private therapist has emailed to you and you will then be taken into SpeechRight’s virtual clinic room on Zoom.
Okay, that is the detailed boring bit over with, now onto the fun part- what actually happens in the teletherapy sessions……
To begin with, your therapist may start by greeting you and your child from a zoo, a farm or last week, I was in the Jurassic Age. Thanks to virtual backgrounds, the SpeechRight therapist will ,no doubt, be in a place that they know your child is interested in. This immediately creates lots of opportunities to engage and interact with your child. Last week, the child I was working with happily labelled all the dinosaurs that were around me and took great delight in telling me they were carnivores so I needed to be careful!
The exact activities which follow will depend on what specific speech and language needs your child has. The SpeechRight private therapists have lots of toys and resources at hand and online to work with your child. Running through some of the games that I was involved with last week (names changed for privacy):
- I had a big area of ground that I had hidden treasure in (a large box with brown crushed crepe paper balls). Jack had to keep instructing me “Emma keep digging” and then he had to label all the different treasure we found such as “a small doggy” “a yoghurt pot” “a scary alligator” and “a blue lego piece”. Jack’s speech therapy target was ‘g’ in the middle of words and this activity resulted in Jack producing lots of these target words. His mum later sent me an email to say he had ‘loved the activity and she had found Jack digging to find some ‘treasure’ in her garden that afternoon.’
- We went to the hairdressers and styled a lion’s mane. First, Sam and I spoke about what activities you have to do to have your haircut, such as, you need to ‘wet’, ‘wash’ ‘dry’ cut’ and ‘brush’ your hair. Sam then practised using these ‘action words’ in his talking to instruct the lion what he had to do. Both Sam and I were giggling when we watched the lion using a hairdryer! Importantly, Sam was enjoying the activity so he was really keen to include the action words in his sentences, he no longer simply said “lion”, he was saying “lion wash” “lion cut” and even “lion brush hair” which showed brilliant progress in his language skills.
- Evie has just developed a stammer so I completed a therapy session with Evie and her dad. I watched Evie and her dad playing together at home using her favourite toys. I then coached Dad with strategies he could use to support Evie’s fluency. I was able to record parts of their play so Dad and I could watch the recording together and talk through all the great things he was doing and some things we could alter slightly. All three of us really enjoyed the session and both Dad and I are now fully versed in all the Disney princesses’ names and dress colours!
- George and I went and knocked on 6 different front doors (thanks to ‘Melissa and Doug’s latching board game’). Behind every door, there was a surprise picture of somebody who George knew. George had to tell me who he was “talking to…..”. George loved opening each door and seeing who was behind and it gave him a lot of practice at saying an accurate ‘t’ sound in ‘talking’ and ‘to.’
- Ethan and I had a pretend race to the park. Ethan rolled his dice and then we moved our counters along the board game we could both see. As we moved, we had to think of the name of every object we passed. I was very disappointed to lose this game, I am sure the dice got stuck on ‘6’ when it was Ethan’s turn! Mum was really pleased that she was then able to continue to play the board game at home with Ethan on the days in between his next session.
- Finally, I also finished my week in Ella’s living room. Ella has recently been diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder so I was coaching her parents on strategies they could use to support her speech, language and interaction skills. Firstly, I spoke to the parents about what their communication targets were with Ella. I then talked them through a key strategy for them to use and showed them videos demonstrating the strategy. The parents then put the strategy into use with Ella as I watched them playing together. I was able to give them online coaching as they were doing this. For the first time in 18 months, Ella verbally requested “more” in the session which was a lovely experience to share with the parents.
Alongside, all the activities, formal assessments can be completed online – it is just like completing the assessment in the clinic but your child is now doing it in their home. The SpeechRight private therapist will present your child with the assessment on your screen for your child to select the right answers from. As the assessment is being completed, the SpeechRight private therapist can physically see your child as well as the answer they choose, which means they do not miss any non-verbal clues your child may be giving. Lots of the companies who design the speech and language assessments are now ensuring their assessments can be completed online in light of the coronavirus.
Before any teletherapy session, your SpeechRight private therapist will send you any paper resources that your child may need in the session. At the end of the therapy, your SpeechRight private therapist will discuss with you, activities to practice following the session and will confirm this information in a written email to you at the end of the appointment.
If you have any further questions about teletherapy, please get in touch. If not, please use the ‘book appointment’ tab on the webpage to get your child’s teletherapy session sorted so they can begin/continue their speech and language journey.