Teletherapy, also called tele-practice or tele-speech, has become more popular during the uncertain circumstances and stay at home orders of COVID-19. Teletherapy can bring a sense of familiarity in uncertain times, as your child can have a weekly live speech therapy visit with a consistent speech language pathologist (SLP). A relationship is built, and the therapist and child share smiles and laughter in between working on their goals. With teletherapy, children can continue to receive continuity of care even as they stay safe at home! But does this foreign method of attending speech therapy really work?
Research is largely in agreement: Teletherapy is a very effective way of teaching kids speech and language!
With teletherapy, speech therapy is provided via a video chat platform that is secure. MetroEHS’s online platform includes fun games, a box for clients to watch applicable videos and talk through worksheets or read stories, screen share, practice cards, and, of course, a live-streaming video SLP guiding them through all of it. All of these features engage most children, including those on the Autism Spectrum. This 1:1 teletherapy has been proven effective: according to a review of 7 studies of school-aged children, “telehealth is a promising method for treating children” (1). Another study looking specifically at children with ASD stated, “All  studies reported high levels of programme acceptability and parent satisfaction with the telehealth component of the intervention” (2). And another states, “Emerging research in telepractice treatment for ASD clients already shows success in both direct and indirect interactions” (3).
If a child is too young or difficult to engage, the SLP may opt for a parent training approach. The parent will receive a list of supplies to gather from around the house, and the SLP will teach the parent how to target the child’s goals. The parent is encouraged to ask questions, and the SLP coaches as the parent engages their child and completes their goals. This has also been proven effective for children learning language! Evidence suggests, “that parent-mediated intervention training delivered remotely can improve parents’ knowledge in [autism spectrum disorder] ASD, parent intervention fidelity, and subsequently improve the social behavior and communication skills of their children with ASD (4).
Feeding Therapy can be provided with a similar model. The SLP guides the caregiver during the session, and talks through strategies and techniques for children accepting the food, chewing, and swallowing. Providing feeding therapy online can be beneficial because the SLP can see where the child typically sits, the types of eating utensils that are used, and overall family dynamic- all of which play a major role in carryover of skills to the home environment. What better way to support generalization to home, than having therapy in the home! Feeding Teletherapy, too, is an excellent and effective substitute to in-person therapy, according to research (5)!
As you can see, teletherapy is a powerful alternative to in-person therapy, especially during situations when receiving in-person therapy is difficult or impossible for families. If you would like more information about teletherapy, to enroll your child, or a free “Teletherapy Tour” to see our platform, please contact MetroEHS today!
- 2017. Wales, D., Skinner, L., et al. The Efficacy of Telehealth-Delivered Speech and Language Intervention for Primary School-Age Children: A Systematic Review. International Journal of Telerehabilitation, 9(1), 55-70.
- 2018. Sutherland, R., Trembath, D., et al. Telehealth and Autism: A Systematic Search and Review of the Literature. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 20(3), 324-336.
- 2015, April 28. Cornish, Nate. Social Mediating: Using Telepractice for Clients With Autism. ASHAwire.
- 2017. Parsons, D., Cordier, R., et al. Parent-Mediated Intervention Training Delivered Remotely for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder Living Outside of Urban Areas: Systematic Review. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 19(8), e198.
- 2008. Clawson, Seldon, Lacks, Deaton, Hall, Bach. Complex pediatric feeding disorders: using teleconferencing technology to improve access to a treatment program. Pediatric Nursing, 34(3): 213-6.