Teletherapy, also referred to as telepractice, is a growing service delivery model that allows SLP’s to provide services to their students via the computer. With a secure internet connection, your child can receive speech and language therapy sessions from wherever they are (with an internet connection.) There is no need to commute to your speech therapy sessions, just log in to your computer at your scheduled time and be connected directly with a highly qualified, licensed, trained, ASHA certified speech-language pathologist.
How does teletherapy work?
You are in your home and I am in mine, and using a computer, we connect using a secure, HIPPA-compliant platform that allows us to see one another in real time. The platform has a whiteboard and the ability to share screens for interacting with speech games and websites. Your child's specific goals are targeted as if we were at a table or in a classroom together. The child's caregiver is nearby, learning along with the child and assisting with any technical support that the child might need.
What equipment do I need?
Teletherapy can happen anywhere you and your child are with a consistent wifi connection. You will need a desktop/laptop that has a functioning webcam and working microphone. Portable webcams and headphones are available for minimal cost. A bandwith of 6-10 is highly recommended.
Is Teletherapy as Effective as In-Person Services?
In a word, YES!
Teletherapy has been used to evaluate and treat people of all ages for over 20 years. According to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA), research suggests that there are few differences between teletherapy and in-person services. Several studies have been conducted recently, and they support teletherapy as an accepted means of speech therapy service delivery.
In my personal experience, I have seen consistent progress in my students. The technology is very motivating and it keeps students engaged and eager to participate. I enjoy being a part of the culture of each child’s home, because it helps build understanding of the child and family’s specific communication needs.
What does the research say about teletherapy?
This is a relatively new service delivery model in the speech/language field, yet it is being researched a great deal and resulting in very promising findings. It was been stated that students receiving teletherapy have even "outperformed control groups and national benchmarks" according to Towey, 2013, and Gorgan-Johnson, 2011, in the areas of expressive and receptive language, social pragmatics, as well as articulation skills. The research is building quickly and the evidence points directly at teletherapy being an excellent avenue for therapy providers-both efficient and effective.
A 2011 study by Kent State University researchers compared students receiving traditional in-person therapy and those receiving telepractice in public school settings. They found that the outcomes for the telepractice group were equal or better than the in-person group, stating that:
"Students in both service models made significant improvements...with students in the telepractice group demonstrating a greater mastery of their Individual Education Plan (IEP) goals."
Source: International Journal of Telerehabilitation, Spring, 2011.