Teletherapy - What is it?
What is telehealth/teletherapy?
Telehealth uses technology to provide speech therapy to a family or client who are in a physically different location to the speech pathologist. Telehealth often uses video conferencing platforms which allow the child and therapist to see and interact with each other as they would in a face-to-face therapy session.
Parent coaching model
Teletherapy will often use a parent coaching, or parent training, model of therapy. This means therapy time is used to teach parents how to interact with their child in a way that helps to develop their child's communication skills.
Parent coaching in general is strongly supported by evidence. It is a very common way for speech pathologists to provide face-to-face therapy with young children. Parent coaching is successful because the parent provides therapy in a natural, familiar environment (their own home). This can help the child transfer these skills to everyday life more easily.
Lots of research has shown that parents who are trained to provide therapy via video conferencing can learn to support their child's communication better. Studies have shown that not only can parent confidence increase after online coaching, but the child’s communication skills can improve too! This is great news because it means we can continue to support your child even during this very uncertain time.
General benefits of telepractice
Many studies have outlined the general benefits of teletherapy:
It can be just as effective as face-to-face therapy!
It is easy to do and is motivating for children.
For some families, it is more accessible, leading to less missed appointments
It can also enhance client outcomes!
Some research suggests teletherapy can help children engage better at school by participating more in class, which improves their educational outcomes, as well as their speech and language skills.
An important takeaway from the research is that telehealth treatment is better than no treatment at all.
How telehealth can help your child
There is growing evidence that therapy delivered via telehealth can be as effective as in-person therapy for children with a range of difficulties.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Several research studies have shown that children with autism who received teletherapy increased their skill levels in the areas targeted in therapy just as much as they did in equivalent face-to-face services. Some research has suggested that children with autism are more engaged in teletherapy because they are in a familiar environment at home, which leads to less anxiety.
Speech Sound Disorders
Research has shown that school-aged children with speech sound disorders achieved very similar results from teletherapy compared to face-to-face therapy. This means therapy is equivalent regardless of the mode of delivery!
One study demonstrated that it was the social interactions that helped children to learn new words. These social interactions included:
Using eye contact
Immediate responses provided to the child (either by the therapist or parent)
Using the child's name
Engaging in turn taking
This study showed that it is the quality of the therapy being delivered, not the mode, that helps children improve. Let’s provide quality therapy for your child together!
The Lidcombe Program is a commonly used treatment approach for children who stutter. Research is developing about the effectiveness of this program when delivered via telehealth. Research studies suggest that the Lidcombe Program can be provided effectively via telehealth, although it can take longer than when delivered face-to-face. However the current recommendations by the Australian Stuttering Research Centre encourage seeking therapy as soon as possible if your child starts stuttering.
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Boisvert, M. K., & Hall, N. (2019). Telepractice for School-Based Speech and Language Services: A Workload Management Strategy. Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, 4(1), 211-216. doi:doi:10.1044/2018_PERS-SIG18-2018-0004
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