Using proper materials in teletherapy (or telepractice) can make a significant difference in the gains made by patients of a speech-language pathologist (SLP).
A speech-language pathologist (SLP) plays a significant role in the lives of children who need help with language and communication. Whether working in schools or in a private practice, SLPs have the opportunity to take their services online with a teletherapy practice.
One of the biggest things that holds many SLPs back from starting to offer more telepractice is that they feel like they have to start over with what materials they use for lessons, as well as start from knowing nothing about licensing and compliance and other details specific to teletherapy.
Many therapists who are looking to incorporate teletherapy into their normal practice decide to get certified in telepractice in order to ensure they know all the fundamentals. This also allows them to communicate to parents and other professionals alike that they take teletherapy seriously and are qualified to practice it.
This article will provide a brief overview of what teletherapy, then introduce some helpful guidance to materials that can be used for teletherapy. Materials is just one of the 10 modules in a telepractice certification.
What is Teletherapy or Telepractice?
Teletherapy (or telepractice according to ASHA) is very similar to what you would do traditionally as an SLP, the biggest difference is that your sessions are conducted via video conferencing rather than face to face. However, even though offering in-person services and services via teletherapy are similar it is important to realize that there are substantial differences in details that are necessary to understand to achieve the same level of results through teletherapy as with in-person services.
While there are many different HIPAA compliant platforms that can be used for conducting teletherapy, this article will focus on a number of different types of materials that you can utilize to ensure your teletherapy is as effective as possible.
Important that Increase in Flexibility Does Not Mean a Drop-Off in Quality
Teletherapy or telepractice does offer a substantial increase in flexibility for both the therapist and the patient. Both you and your patients can show up for appointments remotely, whether that be from the comfort of your own homes or an office. Since teletherapy has been proven to be just as effective as traditional methods, it’s a wonderful option to offer to busy parents with full schedules or to those who might have trouble commuting to and from appointments.
One thing that is important to note is that while a therapist can do therapy from their home, it is still important to maintain a professional appearance and setting that is devoid of distractions and allows the therapy to have the same privacy and focus that an in therapy session would. Parents will be paying the same or similar rates and will expect that to be reflected in both the service they receive as well as the results their children obtain.
Incorporating teletherapy into their business model is something that can offer a range of benefits to both SLPs and their patients (link to other articles).
In the rest of this article we will look at some of the materials that can be used to engage your patients with teletherapy.
The Internet Offers New Ways to Engage Kids
SLPs often worry that by offering a telehealth practice they won’t be able to engage as effectively with their younger patients who tend to have shorter attention spans and need more frequent stimulation to remain focused. While younger patients can be more of a challenge, there are resources targeted for all ages and development levels.
SLPs that embrace this challenge can be at the forefront of connecting kids with new ways to learn and interactive materials that will jumpstart their progress.
Often children find the Internet to be fascinating and with countless interactive games, quizzes, and programs there is something to suit each child’s specific needs so that they can learn in fun, new ways.
Teletherapy Materials Encourage Ongoing Learning
SLPs might experience some hesitancy when deciding to start incorporating telehealth into their business, however many children respond very well to this style of therapy because they are excited and motivated by using the Internet.
Another great benefit is that teletherapy can utilize resources that the child will have access to in her or his own home on a regular basis. This allows them to continue developing skills outside of their sessions rather than only being able to play certain games or participate in specific activities exclusively available in their SLP’s office.
The Internet has become an invaluable learning resource for children when they are taught how to use it correctly. As an SLP you can help your patients explore their options when it comes to the plethora of learning materials and assist them in identifying the ones that fit their needs, interests, and learning styles best.
Teletherapy Makes Learning Simple
Many SLPs are turning to a virtual practice because all that is needed to have a successful therapy session is stable internet connection, a computer, webcam, and a quiet, comfortable space both for the SLP and the patient.
Parents can also become more active in their child’s progress because teletherapy allows them to oversee their child’s sessions and interact with them during certain online activities. This empowers parents to feel at ease applying strategies that the SLP is teaching their child.
Types of Online Materials
Interactive Games and Quizzes
There are numerous online resources providing interactive games and quizzes, many of which are free. Interactive games and quizzes provide a fun chance for children to strengthen their skills around language and communication without it feeling like work.
Videos and Books
Another effective way to work with children is through the use of videos and digital books. These materials are engaging, visual, and can easily be paused to ask questions and start discussions.
Digital flashcards can easily be made online and can be customized to fit each patient’s needs. These are a versatile tool that can be used to accomplish different goals depending on the progress of each child. Some common uses are for targeting articulation, social or life skills, and language.
Create Your Own Materials
There are also resources that make it easy to create and design your own materials. For low yearly fees, you can customize worksheets and other digital materials to assist your patients during and after their sessions.
Online Books for Children about Specific Speech-Language-Hearing Disorders
(List compiled by Judith Maginnis Kuster)
- Sometimes I Just Stutter by Eelco de Geus
- Trouble at Recess
- Izabella: The Story of the Princess Who Stuttered by Beata Akerman
- Everyone’s Different by Alan Badmington
- The Can’t Be Seen Who Couldn’t Squawk by Dale Williams
- Tarby Rockets to Slower Speech by Craig Coleman and Mary Weidner
- Changing the Words Around by Alan Badmington
- Jeremy and the Hippo by Gail Wilson Lew
- Charlie Who Couldn’t Say His Name by Davene Fahy
- Oliver Gets Hearing Aids by Maureen Cassidy Riski and Nikolas Klakow, illustrated by Nicolas Bakery Polygone
- Oliver Gets FM by Maureen Cassidy Riski, from Phonak
- The Treasure Hunt
- When Grandpa Comes Home
- My Name is Sean
Need somewhere to store all your SLP materials? You can use Google Drive to organize all of your materials and resources for future use.
Materials for Teletherapy: Time to Get Started
Bringing learning online and working with your young patients through engaging, interactive activities is proving to be a powerful way for them to develop their speech and language skills. The materials offered for SLPs to incorporate into their sessions are extensive and little to no cost. Whether you choose your favorites from our list or create your own materials, your patients are sure to enjoy this stimulating way of learning.
To learn more about the other aspects of teletherapy and ensure that each time you have a first-time teletherapy session with a new or existing client that you and your patient are properly prepared, learn more about our comprehensive Board Certified Telepractice Specialist.
Learn More About Telepractice Certification