What Your Students Need for Successful Teletherapy at Home
Speech-language telepractice allows you to serve a student population where speech therapy may not be possible. Students who are house-bound or in a remote location can benefit from speech-language teletherapy, but not everyone is a proper candidate. There are numerous things your students must have before you can have effective at-home teletherapy sessions with them. Students’ needs will vary, but creating a basic checklist of requirements can help in having successful teletherapy sessions from the start.
As the name “teletherapy” suggests, speech-language teletherapy is information technology that delivers speech-therapy sessions between a client and SLP over the internet. It is a remote way for students who are unable to meet face-to-face to receive necessary speech therapy. Before you can embark on teletherapy, your student, as well as you, must have a few items in place, such as:
- Computer or laptop
- A high-speed internet connection
- Headphones with attached microphone (analog, Bluetooth, or USB)
- Proper video conference software for teletherapy or online speech therapy.
It is important to note that proper video conference software is necessary as many online video and chat services, such as Skype, or Facebook Messenger, do not comply with HIPPA, and both you and your student’s personal information is at risk for hackers or sold for marketing purposes. Your student may be able to get assistance paying for the proper software through Medicare/Medicaid or insurance.
Physical and Cognitive Requirements
No therapist wants to weed out potential online speech teletherapy students, but certain client criteria must be met. Many students come with limitations that may not make them a proper teletherapy candidate or they will require additional assistance or modifications to their online speech therapy session. It will be up to you to determine what is possible and attainable for your client. A few of the skills a client needs include:
- The ability to pay attention for 30 minutes to an hour.
- The ability to sit in one place for 30 minutes to an hour.
- Follow simple directions.
- Use a computer mouse.
For young children, an aide or parent may be necessary to assist during online speech therapy.
Their role can be that of troubleshooter or facilitator for sessions including setting up equipment, assisting with behavior or physical problems, or handle any scheduling issues.
Online Speech Teletherapy isn’t for Everyone
While you might wish that all your students could participate in online speech therapy, the fact is that you will encounter some that aren’t willing or able to participate in speech telepractice. A student may even meet the criteria you set forth and begin online speech therapy but is not able to complete it. When that happens, it’s important to recognize and communicate immediately with the student or the client’s family/caregivers where the issues may lie and make necessary modifications or institute another plan altogether.
Remember that it is your student’s success that is important. You are also your student’s advocate and if issues arise, good communication is essential to continuing their success.