Teletherapy 101: Why Take the Plunge?

What is Teletherapy? Is Teletherapy difficult to do? How can Teletherapy benefit my child? – ALL OF YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED HERE! 

Teletherapy is simply therapy, over the internet, through a live video connection. The treatment is very similar to what a child receives in person; it is just done using a computer. If you have ever used FaceTime or Skype you have used the same type of technology that teletherapy uses. It allows therapy to be done remotely and is an excellent way to receive therapy services when traveling to a clinic isn’t a realistic option or to allow for more scheduling flexibility. Teletherapy is endorsed by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). 

#1 Is Teletherapy as effective as in-person therapy? 

Some feel that the only way to be effective and really help children make progress is to work in-person. But this just isn’t so. Click here to review in-depth research on the ways in which teletherapy can benefit your child. In fact, to provide teletherapy, therapists must provide services as effective as an in-person therapists, and the national organizations mentioned above require that teletherapists adhere to high standards. According to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association, “Telepractice (telehealth) is an appropriate model of service delivery for the profession of speech-language pathology [and audiology]…The quality of the services delivered via telepractice must be consistent with the quality of services delivered face-to- face.” 

#2 Will the therapist be as “connected” and engaged with us during sessions? 

One thing is certain, many of our therapists feel they have MORE connection than ever before with their clients and families. Working with children virtually, we get to see them in their home environment and in “action”. This allows us to get to know families better, as well as see the space they live in and what daily routines and activities really look like. Recommendations for home programs, exercises, and strategies are able to be taught directly in the the family’s natural environment. Most children LOVE using computers for just about anything, so being able to listen to stories, play games, or follow exercises is more exciting with Teletherapy. 

#3 Is my child appropriate for Teletherapy? 

Speech and language, occupational, and physical therapy for toddlers and young children is focused on providing a lot of parent education and modeling. Teletherapy for toddlers is no different. During your sessions, your therapist will guide you while you participate in therapeutic activities with your child. 

For children with Autism, having therapy provided via the computer/iPad/iPhone can be less intimidating or over-stimulating. As a result of virtual sessions, there is often an increase in interaction and participation with Teletherapy. Technology can also be very motivating and computer-based intervention may be the best modality for therapy for certain children, young adults, or adults on the spectrum and may result in reaching the desired outcomes and goals quicker.  This is why iPad applications and AAC devices are often used effectively with children to increased communication and attention. Click here to learn more about what the evidence suggests!

#4: Does Teletherapy add unnecessary screen time to my child’s life? 

 This is one of the big myths and misconceptions about Teletherapy. Online school and Teletherapy are different than typical “screen time”. This screen time includes work, play, socialization, and communication. Teletherapy activities allow children to engage and use their brains in new ways, much like they would in an in-person session. Teletherapy has the potential to help cut down on passive screen time by giving them activities and things to work on when they want to use the computer outside of their sessions. 

#5 Will Teletherapy be able to help my child maintain progress toward therapy goals? 

Since therapy services must be medically warranted and are authorized by a physician, therapists must show that therapy is occurring consistently in order to meet pre-established goals on the treatment plan or plan of care. Teletherapy enables services to occur without interruption so that skill improvement can be consistent. Regular treatment sessions allow for your child’s relationship with his or her therapist to be maintained which facilitates motivation and engagement in activities.  Teletherapy also provides ongoing education for families. As a result, challenges can be addressed using a team approach and families receive support they need, especially when factors might prevent them from leaving home.   

#6 Does an adult need to be present for each Teletherapy session? 

Parents and/or caregivers are a key component of therapy, especially when it comes to toddlers or children that have attentional or speech-language difficulties. At least one parent or caregiver should be present during each session to facilitate the session.  Therapeutic activities empower the parent and/or caregiver to carryover strategies and to daily routines at home. 

#7 Will I need to buy materials to use during Teletherapy? 

For Teletherapy sessions, all materials used are online or already found in your home. You may be asked to print an activity that will be used during the session or gather common household objects in advance. 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. 

#8 What is the greatest benefit of about Teletherapy? 

Teletherapy allows you the opportunity to learn about all the different ways you can use your child’s toys and objects in your home as tools for therapy. Your therapist will gather a toy inventory in order to plan for therapy sessions that you can easily implement at home. Furthermore, you will begin to identify teaching moments during everyday activities. It is fun, versatile and a time saver!  

Are you ready to get started or do have more questions? Contact us today to schedule a free developmental consultation with a pediatric specialist or learn more about how Skills on the Hill can support your child’s needs.