Integrating Speech Teletherapy in Schools

Many schools are having trouble finding enough speech-language pathologists to work with their students. The increased demand for these professionals is not only within schools but also to work with other populations. Many SLP candidates are opting to work with adults, such as those who have had strokes and veterans who may have had injuries that resulted in the loss of speech. One major factor for the increase demand is the increase in the number of children that require assistance with speech therapy.

The increasing number of students who are in need of speech therapy is due to the realization of how beneficial speech therapy can be to children. In the past, a child with a mild speech disorder might not have ever received therapy. Now there is a better understanding of how speech therapy can help with the social and academic success of a child.

Since finding speech-language pathologists has become increasingly difficult, districts across the country are turning to speech teletherapy. Teletherapy is the process of providing therapy services through video-conferencing technology. This blog will take a deeper dive into why districts across the country are integrating speech teletherapy in their schools.

What is Speech Teletherapy & How Can it Benefit Schools? 

Teletherapy is very similar to an ordinary, in-person therapy session, except the patient and therapist are seeing each other through a computer screen and are sitting in different locations. The video component allows the therapist to make any demonstrations that might be necessary and to see how the patient is doing. Video teleconferencing technology in schools typically allows students to interact with the screen through a variety of different tools and games.

Teletherapy offers a solution to the shortage of speech pathologists in school districts. For example, A therapist living in California who speaks Vietnamese could be matched with a patient in rural Georgia. By using a webcam, headset, and a high-speed Internet connection, the two would be able to engage in face-to-face therapy sessions, even though they are thousands of miles apart. — Traditionally, it has been difficult for patients in smaller communities and underserved minority populations to find a qualified local speech therapist who speaks their language. But teletherapy affords all people, regardless of location or language, the ability to receive the professional care they require in a timely manner.

Additionally, the cost of using teletherapy is on average more affordable than bringing on a full-time onsite speech therapist. Therapy can be paid for as needed and there is no relocation or traveling costs associated either. Speech therapists enjoy working remotely because they can help students across the nation while remaining in the community of your choice.

How Speech Therapists Can Influence School Policies

Schools are constantly changing from year to year, constantly altering the curriculum, procedures, and policies. As new standards are set, many school therapists are the ones noting changes in their students. Speech therapists often times have a very trusting relationship with their students, which allow them to hear concerns from the children and gather this information to bring back to teachers and administrators.

For example, in regard to homework, a speech therapist can work with teachers to see if there are ways to assist students who may have a difficult time completing it at home for one reason or another. They could suggest the formation of after school groups for students to work together. This is just one example of how speech therapists can work with teachers and administrators to foster success with their students. Teachers within schools need to work with speech therapists if they sense something may be happening in their classrooms. Paying special attention and making time to chat with them is important for everyone involved.  

Using Effective Communication for Speech Teletherapy

Speech teletherapy professionals work with students at various grade levels from different classrooms and possibly different schools. Onsite SLPs are typically required to work with not only their students but also different teachers and parents, the same goes for teletherapists. Just like traditional SLPs, a remote speech therapist will work to develop those relationships throughout the school year.

As a part of the special education team, a remote SLP will need to get acquainted with the other people involved in each student’s education. They will reach out to the teachers, teaching assistants, physical therapists, art and music teachers, and anyone else who work closely with their students throughout the school day. Once they’ve established a relationship with them, they can communicate their concerns for each student as well as provide feedback for how the child is progressing with their therapy.

The same goes for the student’s parents. A virtual speech therapist can hear the parent’s concerns about their child’s treatment plan and ask them questions. Parents can also help fill in details of the student’s history that helps the progress of therapy sessions. Just like a traditional therapist, a speech teletherapist understands the importance of these clear lines of communication. 

Challenges Facing Speech and Language Therapists

There are a wide variety of challenges a speech therapist can face, regardless if they are working with their students in person or remotely. Navigating relationships with uninterested children can make progress difficult. Simply creating an online environment that is engaging and exciting isn’t always enough. Getting the student’s parents involved is sometimes an effective method to increase their willingness to engage and improve in their speech therapy. This is just one example of how speech teletherapists can work to solve problems they face just as an onsite SLP would.

Keeping Records – Meeting Educational & Professional Standards 

The demands of speech therapists grow each and every year. The reality is that the better they document everything, the easier it is for them to recall something regarding a student. This could be if used for a child’s annual review meeting, or perhaps in an evaluation. Being organized and using these four tips will protect school-based speech teletherapists professionally in the long run.

  • Keep a record log of conversations had with teachers, parents, or even student
  • Document all sessions with students
  • Document changes in students
  • Keep up on license or certification requirements

While these tips may seem straight forward, they are extremely helpful in keeping speech teletherapists organized throughout the school year, especially if they work with several districts.

If you are a school leader looking to integrate teletherapy into your district or school, then request talent through the button below to learn more and speak with one of ProCare Therapy’s director of educational resources!

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