Tele-therapy Frequently Asked Questions
The American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) defines telepractice (the act of providing
Telehealth services) as “the application of telecommunications technology to delivery of professional services at a distance by linking clinician to client, or clinician to clinician, for assessment, intervention, and/or consultation.”
American Occupational Therapy Associations defines telehealth occupational therapy as “the application of telecommunication and information technologies for the delivery of rehabilitation services” (American Occupational Therapy Association [AOTA], 2013, p. S69).
In simple terms, telehealth uses video conferencing as a medium for providing therapy. Telehealth accommodates a frenetic schedule, utilizes familiar and ever more pervasive technologies, delivers to the comfort of a client’s home, and offers parent involvement.
Research supports the effectiveness of telehealth compared to traditional therapy and is recognized by ASHA and AOTA as a valid means of service delivery based on strong body of research. Telehealth has been proven effective by over 40 academic studies. The following are a few excerpts:
Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 72(12):1116-1122, J.R. Duffy, G.W. Werven and A.E. Aronson, December 1997: Results of the Mayo Clinic’s project indicate that “Telemedicine evaluations can be reliable, beneficial, and acceptable to patients with a variety of acquired speech and language disorders, both in rural settings and within large multidisciplinary medical settings.”
The Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology at Kent State University (Ohio) and the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Cincinnati (Ohio) are great research contributors to the field of telepractice. One of their research projects demonstrates that telepractice is as effective as traditional speech therapy: “Student progress reports indicated that the children made similar progress.”
There is little difference between the traditional on-site therapy and online teletherapy (telehealth). We live in a world that has telemedicine and virtual schools, so it is a natural progression. A student will make a relationship with the therapist based on trust and rapport. A face to face connection is made on the screen and the therapy is delivered the same. The therapist will engage on the screen with the student by the use of games, tactical items or talk therapy- the same as they would in-person. Should something need to be printed, or a student needs physical help, a parent or paraprofessional may be enlisted for help.
A secure and HIPAA-compliant video conferencing platform is required by law when providing teletherapy. Zoom was built to meet and exceed all HIPAA requirements.
All you need is an internet connection, a lap top or tablet/phone, a webcam and audio connection. You will be provided with step by step instructions prior to your first session and you will be walked through the steps for setup to ensure everything is working properly before therapy begins.
Telehealth can be used to treat a wide range of speech/language disorders and occupational impairments. Your therapist will work closely with you (guardian) to create the best possible situation for effective sessions. At the end of the day, your treating therapist will determine if telehealth is a beneficial service delivery model for your child based on clinical judgement and expertise and your input as their parent. It is our utmost importance to provide effective, research based therapy and we will make a decision based on the best interest of your child/family. The best way to find out is to give it a try!
Parents and/or caregivers are a key component of telehealth for children. At least one parent or caregiver should be present during each session. Therapy sessions are designed in a way that empowers parents and caregivers to feel comfortable using tips and strategies taught by the Speech-Language Pathologist or Occupational Therapist.
A session can include the use of videos, worksheets, stories, PowerPoint “shows,” toys and household objects. Overall, the types of materials chosen depends on the age of the child, the child’s goals and the child’s ability to sustain attention.
All materials are online or already found in your home. However, you may be asked to print an activity that will be used during the session. Toys may be recommended but the purchase of new toys is not required. Prior to each appointment, parents receive a therapy plan so that they know what to expect during each session.