The American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) defines teletherapy 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.”
I started using teletherapy when I was the Executive Director of SLC Therapy. With this medium, our clients didn’t have to leave their homes, but can tune into their therapists and receive intervention via the web. We used teletherapy with a select few clients over the last year with a range of diagnosis (ASD, speech delay, and language impairment) to develop a protocol, get creative about our reinforcers, and compare the progress of the same child seen in the clinic vs. teletherapy. Our biggest question was: Did progress stop when the client changed from center based to teletherapy.
HERE ARE MY RESULTS:
1. When teletherapy was initiated, two of the four clients were on the road to dismissal of services due to progress. Those two clients were able to be dismissed earlier as the home practic component became more intensified.
2. Parents were our parents in a more meaningful way. We even made video samples of prompting, homework samples, etc. so that generalization could skillfully be applied by parents.
3. Social communication therapy can be very cool via web therapy. Both from the therapist perspective and the client perspective.
4. Our families were less stressed about getting to therapy! This was huge, especially during the winter months, client illness, etc. Our clients were ready for therapy and rescheduling was very easy. We found that this therapy fit into the family schedule a bit easier.
5. Private schools were open to this option as it allowed for better teacher and para collaboration.
6. Providing ABA Therapy via teletherapy can be done. Creating the programs, implementing, and using the parent as our partner has been wonderful. It’s great to see a child who could not wave and say hello with fluency do it quite readily with us on the web and generalize it to his home environment.
7. It placed parents in a better position of power and partnership.
8. Clients still made progress, 30 minute sessions 2x per week for mild- mildly moderate impairments. Mild: 1x per week with home program component.
9. Most families already had a webcam and skype account. Our skype account (business account) is secure, and we were able to provide this using with no additional cost to our clients. And now this is not the medium I utilize for teletherapy as there are many other options.
To begin in teletherapy as any other therapy, an assessment, evaluation, or consultation is conducted. Treatment plans are still created. In addition, we complete a mock session in which a client eligibility form is completed to determine if they are ready for teletherapy.
As I watched weather reports and hear of clinics closing, client’s not being seen due to weather and travel concerns, I smile because I know many would benefit from losing the hustle and bustle of getting to therapy and would say “yes” to WebTherapy or Teletherapy.
For more information about Teletherapy, visit:
American Telemedicine Association: http://www.americantelemed.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=1
American Speech Language Hearing Association Position Statement: http://www.asha.org/practice/telepractice/