Telepractice for Autism Spectrum Disorder Treatment At Home
1 out of 68 children are identified with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.1 This statistic underscores its increasing prevalence across the globe. With such a wide spectrum of symptoms, levels of impairment, and skill that children with ASD possess, this disorder dramatically affects the lives of those it touches. Autism Spectrum Disorders are categorized by: persistent deficits in a social setting, restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior, recognizable in the early developmental period of a child’s life, and symptoms that cause significant impact in the child’s ability to function.2 Although the causes of ASD are unknown, scientists believe that the disorder can be linked back to genetic factors, numerous environmental factors, and can affect any socioeconomic group.2 TeleTherapy is a treatment potential that allows children access to the help they need, for those children who would otherwise not be granted.
The earliest signs and symptoms are typically noticed by parents. Symptoms should be acknowledged and brought to a professional for a more in depth analysis before an accurate diagnosis is determined. Some children will develop normally well past the first birthday, showing symptoms well into the toddler stage, while others may begin showing signs of ASD at infancy. Once a parent notices that the child is showing problematic behavior, certain comprehensive diagnostic evaluations must take place before there can be a diagnosis of ASD. The screening tests could go beyond a child’s pediatrician and sometimes an entire team of professionals need to evaluate the child, including psychologists, neurologists, and every therapist in between2. Every child with ASD has unique needs, but one thing is consistent, the earlier treatment begins the better off the child will be.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has concluded that most children diagnosed with ASD need to be provided with focused “learning activities at the proper developmental level for the child for at least 25 hours per week and 12 months per year2.” When a child reaches school age, the child will receive special education services, if eligible, under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), with a school district-administered Individualized Education Plan (IEP). This plan may involve rigorous therapy sessions and support. However, the skills they learn in school may not always translate easily to the child’s performance at home and other settings. The more profound impact that therapy has on a child, the faster they will be able to learn and develop. By supplementing therapy with private sessions at home, children not only feel in a more comfortable environment, they are also retaining more of the information that is being taught to them due to the level of exposure.
Within recent times, mobile technology has become more readily available to the general public, including parents of children who suffer from ASD. Studies have shown that computers, iPads, iPods, iPhones, and other mobile electronic devices are successfully being used to help motivate and improve learning capabilities for children diagnosed with ASD.3 Although, technology practices in this environment are still under-developed, these resources have proved to be an invaluable tool for “repetition, immediate feedback, practice, visual presentations, performance assessments, collaboration,” and customization for therapy at home.3
In a world where children and students rely more heavily than ever on touch-screen and computer technology for learning and recreation, VocoVision’s TouchScreen TeleSpeech™ platform comprises several components that combine to form our user-friendly system. VocoVision features high-definition video and high-fidelity audio, providing a user experience comparable to in-person therapy. Our technology gives therapists the flexibility to use a wide range of tools for their lessons and activities such as flashcards and technologically enhanced games. To assist clinicians with lesson materials, VocoVision maintains a searchable collection of useful, relevant websites.
If a learning aid can be displayed on the therapist’s desktop computer, then it can be shared with the student. This allows therapists to use many of the same materials they may have acquired or developed for face-to-face interactions. It also allows for a more dynamic and flexible experience. In hopes that ALL children that are diagnosed with ASD receive therapy, VocoVision is a support system for the child, parent(s) and school system alike. Through technological advancements in the new, ever-changing digital world, children are able to access the care that they need.
3 Ennis-Cole, D. (accepted – 2014). Technology for Learners with Autism Spectrum
Disorders. Bloomington, IN: AECT-Springer.