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Is Teletherapy Right for My Child?

Is Teletherapy Right for My Child?

Your parenting plate has been flipped upside-down since the onset of COVID-19. You are constantly role changing between teacher, chef, referee, etc., and now your child’s speech language pathologist is offering you teletherapy. Perhaps the thought of adding virtual therapy is a bit overwhelming. Before you start to worry about “the how” and “the when,” let’s talk about what’s involved and whether it makes sense for your child and your family’s current situation.

What is teletherapy?

Teletherapy is an online therapy visit. An appointment date and time is scheduled and your child continues the same therapy/plan of care as if they were in the office. Teletherapy evaluations are also possible for new patients. You will need a computer or smart device with a camera, microphone, and access to the Internet.

Is teletherapy right for my child?

Teletherapy does not fit every child, and honestly, it does not fit every therapist. Your therapist will know if your child is a potential candidate. There are also certain treatments that are not able to be completed without a hands-on approach.

Why should I consider teletherapy?

Consistency is key with all therapies, including speech-language and feeding. Attending sessions regularly, being punctual and prepared, and following through with recommendations at home will benefit your child’s treatment tremendously. Will missing a few appointments over a long period of time negatively impact progress? Probably not. But missing several weeks or even months of therapy can increase the gap between your child’s age and skill development, potentially increasing the overall length of treatment. Virtual therapy sessions are a great way to help keep your child’s progress on track.

Is it “just too much” during this time?

You are the only one who can answer this. Family wellness and mental health must come first, but teletherapy can even be helpful during these times. Our little ones thrive on routines and consistency, and their routines have been completely flipped! They likely don’t understand why things have changed, and may be feeding off your own uncertainties and emotions. Allowing your child to look forward to seeing their weekly therapist can provide a familiar sense of routine.

How will it work? Is it hard to set up?

At Baton Rouge General Pediatric Rehab Center, we use Microsoft Teams to conduct private teletherapy services. The first step, downloading the app, is free and easy. Your therapist will send you an email invitation upon request with instructions on how to get started. A link is included at the bottom of the email where you can join your teletherapy session. Microsoft Teams works on smartphones, tablets, and laptops. You can even use a desktop computer using its microphone and camera.

What will it look like?

In teletherapy, your child’s same goals and objectives are addressed, but the methods may be different. With those under three years old, a Family Centered Approach is used, frequently relying on parent training and coaching. In older clients, a fairly typical treatment approach is used, while relying on the caregiver to “be our hands” if needed. On a conference call, we have the ability to screen share so we can review a webpage or document together. There are also many websites that offer electronic or no-print materials perfect for speech and language therapy.

Will my child even participate?

This is where our skills as therapists come in! We are trained in quickly establishing and maintaining rapport with children. In teletherapy, we have ways to encourage and motivate your little one to communicate. Some of the same methods we use in face-to-face therapy can be applied here like using trinkets and toys, favorite songs and videos, and animated facial expressions to help keep their attention. Overall, most children who are appropriate for teletherapy participate without any trouble. As a caregiver, it is important to remember that you have to do what’s best for your child!

Megan Dewberry

Megan Dewberry, MA, CCC-SLP
Pediactric Rehabilitation Therapist
Baton Rouge General Pediactric Rehab Center

(225) 381-6737