Since the beginning of the pandemic, Speech Pathologists all over the nation who were previously NEW to telepractice have found ways to successfully provide services to students AT HOME, across the globe. Now...what about the assessment part of the job!?
I've been completing assessments via the internet for over 5 years, both in the school-setting AND the home setting. I'm not going to lie. It CAN be tricky. However, when done correctly, virtual assessments offer the same amount of value and data as an in-person assessment.
However, setting a home-based assessment definitely requires a new set of skills, eyes and ears. It will require you, as the therapist, to coach your parent through what is needed in order for you to gain quality data. This demands a little prep work on your part, but trust me when I say...every minute spent, is worth it.
Here are my top 5 tips for setting up a successful assessment in the home. First step? Set up a meeting in advance to discuss the following:
1) Test reliability and validity. Parents do not inherently know what they can and can NOT do to help their child. It's your job to discuss what's allowed during testing, and what is not, so that the data gathered is valid. Talk about directions, prompting and subtle body language that may negatively impact results.
2) Technology. Ensure parents have the proper working equipment, internet speed, and troubleshooting guides if needed. Check headphones, microphones and cameras. Show parents how to test the internet speeds. If slow, instruct them to place the computer as close the modem as possible, or purchase an ethernet cord for hard wiring.
3) The proper testing environment. This includes the physical space that is selected for the assessment, as well as the lighting and seating. It's important that parents understand that siblings, pets and other household noises can be huge distractions during your assessment. Light should be directed towards the child's face, and not behind. The chair should be high enough.
4) Behavior management. Parents may not realize that they should stay or remain in the line of sight for an assessment. Don't shy away from discussing what you'll need in order for your student to be successful, including external reinforcers, rewards or motivators that will help keep your student engaged throughout testing. Talk about the positive language that can be used to redirect and sustain attention (i.e., "I love how you're watching!").
5) Contact information. Make sure parents have multiple ways that they can reach you, and multiple ways you can reach them. Emergencies arise, as do technology issues. It's no fun waiting for 15 minutes for your student to log in, only to find out there's an illness in the family. Also important, ensure parents have the LINK to your therapy room. This can get lost in translation with parents who feel overwhelmed.
I've created a FREE printable parent checklist that you can send via email once your initial meeting is complete. Parents can use this 10-point guide to ensure that their child is test-ready, and your assessment goes smoothly and seamlessly.
Just like weekly service provision, you'll be rocking in-home assessments before you know it!