The Effectiveness of Early Intervention Teletherapy

May 14, 2021By: Taina Jimenez Lopez, SLP.D. CCC-SLP
early intervention teletherapy

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) allows for children from birth to 3 years old with developmental delays and disabilities to receive services under an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). These services are more commonly known as early intervention (EI) services. Thanks to telepractice, today there are specialist in every corner of the nation who can help most children realize their full potential from the start and across geographic barriers.

What is Early Intervention Teletherapy?

Early intervention (EI) services are offered typically in the home environment in the company of the child’s parents or caregivers. This model allows for the implementation of parent coaching to support generalization of skills. Providing EI services via telepractice has made it possible for families with limited or no access to in-person services to benefit from them. The use of teletherapy for early intervention dates to a decade now, however great improvements on the implementation of the model have been made.

Keep in mind that clinicians are still providing the high-quality services they’ve always have, but now they are going into the home via teleconferencing. Ideally, families can access the technology in their own home, however they could visit a location in the community to access the technology and connect with the specialist.

The telepractice model has been found particularly successful with infants and toddlers who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing (DHH) (Behl, Houston, & Stredler-Brown, 2012 & McCarthy, Leigh, & Arthur-Kelly, 2018). During this last year, telepractice has become the main service delivery model for these services and it has been evidenced that successful interventions are possible when the telepractice model is implemented appropriately (Laudinguin, 2020).

Pros & Cons of Early Intervention Teletherapy

Just like any solution, teletherapy has its pros and cons. These pros and cons must be weighed in order to choose the best solution for the individual student.

Pros

  • Ability to support families directly in the home with a parent and child-driven focus.
  • Access to services in remote locations.
  • Continued access to services regardless of transportation barriers or health problems.
  • Access to specialized clinicians beyond geographical barriers.

Cons

  • Connectivity problems in remote locations.
  • Access to technology in the home.

Effectiveness of Early Intervention Teletherapy

If a local community does not have the specialists a child needs, he or she may not receive optimal care. Each disability or delay has its own treatment method. Children with rare conditions may have a more difficult time finding services in the immediate area, and their caregivers may be unable to transport them to those services on a regular basis. Limited access to such resources could reduce the effectiveness of the chosen therapy. With telepractice, the child and parent could access the services from the home or go to a local office that has already been outfitted with the technology and be connected to a specialist in another area of the state or country.

Another area where telepractice shine is in family education and involvement. By setting up therapy sessions in the home the therapist will be able to implement parent coaching. This is a proven model of intervention that involves the clinician and the parent in working towards improving the child’s targeted skills together. Parent coaching includes observations, reflections and debriefing for action to promote the parent’s ability to support their child in the family and community environment beyond the session. Clinicians will observe daily routines and offer advice on how therapeutic techniques can be incorporated for the maximum benefit of the child. Additionally, interactions with family members can be observed and the therapist can help identify where there is potential for teachable moments to occur. Specific family problems can also be addressed and worked on as needed.

Getting Access to Teletherapy Services

Accessing teletherapy early intervention services is more available now than in the past. When you reach out to your local early intervention program (https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/parents/states.html) ask about access to telepractice services. The potential benefits for young children who receive services via telepractice in early intervention programs seems limitless. When the child turns 3 their IFSP will be transitioned into an IEP and services may be provided under your school district.

Working as a Service Provider

If you are new to teletherapy and working as a virtual provider then you have come to the right place! VocoVision is a leader in providing virtual and teletherapy services for schools across the country. Our main goal is to connect children with the educators and providers who need them most, regardless of location. If you would love to learn more and are looking for your next opportunity, then start your job search today. View our teletherapy jobs through the button below.

References
Behl, D., Houston, K. T., & Stredler-Brown, A. (2012). The value of a learning community to support telepractice for infants and toddlers with hearing loss. Volta Review, 112, 313–327.

Landinguin, R. (2020, March 16). Using Telepractice to Provide Early Intervention Services to Families. ASHA Leader.

McCarthy, M., Leigh, G., & Arthur-Kelly, M. (2018). Telepractice delivery of family-centred early intervention for children who are deaf or hard of hearing: A scoping review. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, 25(4), 249–260. https://doi.org/10.1177/1357633×18755883

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