What is teletherapy?
Teletherapy, sometimes referred to as online therapy, virtual therapy or telehealth, is the delivery of a wide range of therapy services using telecommunications technology to connect therapists to clients. We work with your family while connected via a secured synchronous platform to address functional goals and improve communication outcomes. The same diagnoses and conditions that can be treated in our clinic can be treated effectively via teletherapy. It’s not the therapy that’s different; it’s the mode of delivery. Telehealth itself is not new. It has been practiced for several years by doctors, nurses and therapists in other fields. However, it was just beginning to gain traction in the field of pediatric therapy when COVID-19 began sweeping the U.S.
The coronavirus pandemic brought teletherapy to the forefront as a safe and convenient model to access healthcare. Studies have shown that teletherapy is just as effective as in-person therapy.1 One of the main premises behind Speech Language Pathology is identifying and remediating communication difficulties in daily life. We have found that teletherapy allows significantly increased engagement with the patient and their family which often results in increased carry-over of skills learned during therapy sessions; this is due to the family’s ability to participate, provide expert information and work as a team with the Speech Language Pathologist toward improving communicative, cognitive, literacy or feeding skills.
Will teletherapy work?
Teletherapy has been found to be beneficial for many children and adults, allowing us to connect remotely in an effort to help your loved one through areas of difficulty in daily life. Teletherapy brings the professional to you for your comfort and convenience. It allows for avoidance of traffic, long commutes and exposure to communicable diseases. Our online therapy sessions fit into your busy schedule and allow you to access specialty services to address your family’s needs no matter where you are. Access to treatment is no longer limited by your location: teletherapy is a great option for families who need therapy but live outside of the areas where we provide in-person services. We can deliver our high-quality array of services to patients in Florida, New Jersey, and North Carolina. Just as with in-person therapy, we determine appropriateness during our initial evaluation. Based on the evaluation results, we will let you know if teletherapy is a viable option for your family and set goals together. Some of the benefits of teletherapy include:
- A reduction in the number of missed appointments.
- A reduction in time and travel commitments required of caregivers.
- Increased access for patients who live in remote areas or have mobility impairments.
- Increased carryover of skills as caregivers observe and participate in therapy.
1The Efficacy of Telehealth-Delivered Speech and Language Intervention for Primary School-Age Children: A Systematic Review concluded that there is no significant disparity between online therapy (teletherapy) and in-office face-to-face therapy for primary school-aged children with speech and language disorders. The showed that both groups made significant and similar progress with speech therapy.
What does teletherapy look like?
Services look different for each family and are dependent on the age of the patient, their goals, and what is being targeted during the session.
- For children birth to 3 years old we use a combination of parent/caregiver coaching and direct interactions with the child. Direct interactions with the child will require a parent or another adult to be present to help facilitate the activities. For parent coaching, parents will be interacting with their child within daily routines while being guided by the therapist, much like in-person sessions. Coaching is an excellent way for parents to learn and practice how to support their children in developing a specific skill. It is also a way for parents to understand how to increase opportunities for ongoing practice within play and daily routines.
- For older children, the child engages directly with the therapist via fun learning activities.
- For all ages, caregivers are provided with carryover activities to reinforce the day’s treatment.
What will I need for teletherapy?
- Once we determine teletherapy is a good option for your family, we will send you a meeting link through our safe teletherapy program as delineated by HIPAA standards and guidelines.
- Please ensure you are equipped with a computer, tablet, or phone with a webcam and microphone, a relatively quiet location, and a strong, stable internet connection.
- Call or email us for more information or to meet with a licensed professional within the comfort and convenience of your school, home, place of business, or almost anywhere else you might imagine via teletherapy.
Q. Does online speech therapy work for toddlers, preschoolers, school-age kids?
A. Yes! We serve children as young as 18 months through online speech therapy.
Q. What about teletherapy adding to the amount of screen time my child is already getting?
Teletherapy services are different from the type of idle or stationary screen time experienced when watching TV. Our online sessions are interactive and socially engaging, providing for a rich educational experience. For younger children, for whom screen time should be minimal, we will primarily use the coaching model for delivering services where it is the parent who is most engaged with the screen.