Blog author: Miriam Fruchter, MA, CCC-SLP
Before COVID, most of us didn't hear the word telepractice or teletherapy too often or know much about it. Teletherapy/telepractice is a digital way of providing speech therapy and has been utilized for quite some time. ASHA (The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) has had information and resources available on the use of telepractice since the late 1990's1990's (Perspectives on Telepractice: ASHA and the Evolution of Telepractice, https://pubs.asha.org/doi/10.1044/tele1.1.4). In 2005, ASHA's Telepractice Working Group had already developed a position statement on the use of telecommunication technology within the field of speech-language pathology (Professional Issues in Telepractice for Speech-Language Pathologists, 2010, www.asha.org/policy).
Speech teletherapy was not originally put into practice to replace "in-person therapy" but rather as a substitute or alternate way of providing and receiving speech therapy. However, once COVID-19 hit the U.S. in March 2020, we began to hear a lot more about the use, benefits, and technicalities that come with the help of teletherapy. Many were forced to change from in-person to teletherapy overnight with no straightforward guidebook or additional support. Therapists and parents alike needed to quickly learn how to use Zoom or other acceptable platforms and adjust to the new direction of speech therapy. After mastering the use of your telehealth platform, what is left? There were a lot of unanswered questions to figure out.
3 Questions Speech Therapists Ask:
2 Questions Parents Ask:
All of this took time to sort out and learn. Some students responded better than others, and some of us had an easier time adjusting to the use of Team, Zoom and Google Meet to service our students. In hindsight, most therapists found themselves in unknown, unfamiliar, and uncharted territory without our go-to therapy bag or therapy "toolbox" of tricks. Instead, one would search the web each night, join Facebook groups and reach out to fellow clinicians for support and ideas. Over time this became the new "norm" for providing speech therapy. Our therapeutic toolbox expanded and now included YouTube clips, boom cards, books from epic!, Teachers Pay Teachers activities, and many other great digital resources. These digital resources became more accessible and specific to various speech and language goals. I have gathered and researched 38 digital resources you might want to access and use:
|Receptive/Expressive/Pragmatic Language||Auditory/Reading Comprehension||Articulation & Phonology / Fluency|
|ABCYa||abcteach (subscription needed)||Articulation Station (free app available in App Store)|
|Bamboozle||Bookshare (free if w. dyslexia/print disabilities)||Stuttering Therapy Resources|
|BigActivities||BrainPOP||Turtle Pacing Board|
|edpuzzle||International Children's Digital Library|
|epic!||Raz-Kids (subscription needed)|
|ESL GAMES +||Speakaboos Stories (subscription needed)|
|Everyday Speech (subscription needed)||Starfall|
|Language Playroom||Storyline Online|
|Match The Memory||StoryPlace|
|My StoryBook||Tar Heel Reader|
|Pink Cat Games||TumbleBookLibrary (subscription needed)|
|slptoolkit (subscription needed)||WatchKnowLeaarn|
|Smarty Symbols (subscription needed)||WordWall|
|Kids Games Club by TabTale (free app available in App Store & Google Play)|
|Teachers Pay Teachers|
As we return to in-person services incorporating these digital resources still plays a vital role in many of our speech therapy sessions, especially after spending so much time researching and learning how to use them. In addition, I hope that teletherapy will remain much more widespread and a great alternative when in-person therapy is unavailable. The pros and cons of using teletherapy are a whole other discussion for another blog, but I want to say that the need for both in-person and teletherapy continues to co-exist strongly. What COVID-19 did was open the door even wider to so many more children and adults, who otherwise would not be receiving the speech services they need. There may be a debate about whether in-person therapy is more effective than teletherapy. However, the fact remains that there is still so much room in the world for teletherapy to spread its wings and be very successful!
It's important to remember that one colossal factor remains the same within this new way of providing therapy: the provider. Each speech therapy session would not run smoothly without the expertise, skills, enthusiasm, and warmth that each provider continues to bring with them to their sessions. My son's speech therapist frequently commented how teletherapy had an excellent advantage for early intervention kids. The client focuses more on their speech therapist than the physical objects brought into the session. The speech therapist's mouth, tongue movements, and voice became the focal point. When using teletherapy, the child began to watch the speech therapist's mouth movements (especially when they were more exaggerated), as that was present on the screen in front of them. The digital resources gave more opportunities to practice the movement patterns, sound productions, or oral exercises initiated by the speech therapist. Therefore, I want to leave you with one final thought when using any of the above-mentioned digital resources. Please remember that the actual speech therapist is still pulling the strings and guiding the session for their students.
"A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning."
- Brad Henry
Photo credit: freepik.com