Whether you are a building administrator, director of special education, superintendent, or an educator interested in innovative learning approaches, extra time is something we know you don’t have. That’s why we created this shortlist of what you need to know to consider online speech therapy as a resource to help meet the needs of your students.
1. It’s ASHA approved.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) defines and endorses telepractice as an approved service delivery model. They have developed key issue position statements to provide best practice recommendations to providers and have a Special Interest Group (SIG 18) dedicated to advancing adoption and practical use of telepractice.
According to ASHA, “There are no inherent limits to where telepractice can be implemented, as long as the services comply with national, state, institutional, and professional regulations and policies.”
2. License and certification are the same as your on-site speech-language pathologists.
There are no exceptions for online providers. They must be licensed and appropriately certified in the state where your school and students are. On top of this, they are also licensed in the state where they reside and hold their Certificate of Clinical Competence from ASHA. An effective teletherapy provider can relieve the district of the burden of organizing staff credentialing by tracking the licensure and certification of the speech-language pathologist for you.
3. It’s engaging, even for the littlest learners.
It’s no secret students are drawn to technology and devices within the classroom, making online therapy more appealing to all students from the start. School districts have blossomed into collaborative communities that encourage early digital learners. Telepractice follows this forward way of thinking. All telepractice sessions are tailored to individual student needs and interests, which creates a different and unique environment for each session. These sessions can be presented on almost any computer or touch screen device. When smart boards are available, the students are able to stand up and be active during the structured sessions prompting our youngest learners to naturally stay engaged.
4. It’s reliable and consistent.
Online SLPs are not traveling from school to school, even from classroom to classroom, so they are on-time and available for scheduled sessions. Teachers love this consistency. Teletherapy sessions tend to be more structured and frequent with fewer students in a group, allowing for maximum time targeting speech and language goals.
If an online therapist is going to be out on leave, it’s much easier to obtain another qualified person to work with the students remotely than trying to provide the compensatory time or locate someone for temporary on-site instruction. As long as there is a plan in place and open lines of communication, students should have the consistency they need to succeed throughout the year and schools benefit from a reliable provider.
5. You don’t always need extra staff to supervise sessions.
Older students can typically attend a session without assistance. These sessions can occur in an area that’s under general supervision. For younger students that do require someone to help them log on to the platform, the therapy environments can be set up inside their classroom where additional staff may already be present. In instances where students have very involved needs, working with a paraprofessional that may already be with them throughout their day is hands-down the best solution. This even promotes carryover and expanded training opportunities for facilitators because the therapy activities require more active involvement.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when implementing a teletherapy program. However, a rich discussion between the school staff and an experienced teletherapy provider can help to shape the best solution, given the on-site support available.