This is my final post in this informative blog post series. If you have missed Part 1 and Part 2, each post is easy to find on my blog page at The Whimsical Word, Inc. Simply click here!
In this final blog post of this series, I'd like to address one of the largest misconceptions about teletherapy. I've heard it said over and over again on various Facebook Groups and Forums. SLPs and educators often assume ideas without having experience or knowledge. I would ask, shouldn't we have the same "Growth Mindset" that we wish for our students to have?
Myth #4: "Teletherapy could never work. It's just too difficult to implement."
The idea of teletherapy to most SLPs and professionals who are "on the ground" can absolutely seem daunting and scary. When districts first learn that teletherapy is a service option, I would imagine their thoughts immediately jump to , "How in the WORLD would we EVER get this to work?" Without having seen school-based telepractice in action, I would probably jump to that same conclusion. But the truth is, that teletherapy is much, much easier to implement than you think.
I'd like to demonstrate using a simple chart how we might compare apples to apples:-).
As you can see from this simple chart, a "teletherapist" can perform all of the SAME duties as an "on the ground" traditional SLP. The ONLY difference, is that we aren't physically present in each building to complete them. For example, we might participate in an IEP meeting via telephone or our video conferencing platform. We consult with staff via email and telephone. We send encrypted progress reports instead of putting them in mailboxes in the teacher's lounge. Almost every duty performed by a traditional SLP can be performed by a teletherapist....except.....getting the students to therapy.
The only difference between the two roles is that we simply need an extra pair of hands to pick up students and get them to the therapy space. If the students are young, we also often suggest that an E-Helper/Aide/Paraprofessional stay with the students for safety, and to help us manage unwanted behaviors. Older students can often be placed on a computer within sight of supervising adults, but rarely need close physical supervision.
These amazing professionals become our hands during articulation treatment, provide cues for sustaining attention, and manage our therapy schedule with efficiency. By the end of the school year, most paraprofessionals claim that the logistics of teletherapy were much easier than they had anticipated, and have loved being an integral part of the therapy process.
With all of this said, I realize that it takes extra effort on the part of special educators, case managers, principals and coordinators to send emails and make phone calls about students or issues that arise. We are not readily available in the hallways or the teacher's lounge for quick questions or discussions. However, I personally strive to have "office hours" each day, so that any professional can call, or jump on the computer to speak to me via video conferencing. I also strive to attend Team Meetings, or set up a bi-weekly collaboration with each Team via videoconferencing, especially in the beginning of the school year when there are many questions and logistical concerns.
It should also be noted that many larger teletherapy companies provide excellent support services to the School District. Most help set up technology and troubleshoot for issues prior to the beginning of services. They provide consultation and lead contacts when problems occur, or when situations need to be modified. They assist in scheduling and in setting up the logistics for day-to-day services.
When support is provided, and therapy is performed with integrity, teletherapy looks a lot like traditional services. Each player involved benefits from having a "growth mindset" about the process, and a willingness to learn new things. As in any other profession, a positive approach to team work leads to giant success. Our students reap the benefits of that enthusiasm and collaboration. If you have a chance to give teletherapy a try, I would surely urge you to do so. We don't have anything to lose if our students can gain skills by having consistent therapy services, and a team of cheerleaders shouting from the sidelines, do we?
If you'd like to learn more about teletherapy, visit my home page by clicking here!
If you'd like to learn more about the NO PRINT lessons I create for therapy platforms, iPads and laptops, click here!