May is Better Speech and Hearing Month! As we approach May, I cannot help but reflect on how different this May is compared to past years. Aside from the obvious differences from a year ago, I did not think I would ever transition to providing services solely through telehealth, yet here we are. I think that the transition was at first daunting (mainly due to insurance companies), but I have learned many things since the switch occurred.
I know that the therapy I provide via telehealth is the same as if I were providing in-person services. I think that a lot of people feel that because I am not providing services in person, that the services I provide are subpar. I still have the same resources that I had when I was in-person. If anything, I am working more closely with parents and teaching them the strategies I use within the sessions. Now, I obviously cannot physically provide tactile cues for a child receiving articulation therapy, but I am able to instruct their parent on how to do so. I am also working a lot on parent coaching in terms of requesting and during play.
Also, I knew prior to telehealth services how amazing the families I work with are. With that said, I COULD NOT do these services without their assistance. Having a parent involved in the session is key!!
I have found telehealth requires a lot more planning and flexibility than providing services in-person. When I provide services in the home, I always go in with a plan and maybe a few structured tasks. I usually follow the child’s lead and in turn manipulate their preferences to target my goal for the session. While I can still follow the child’s lead, I need to have my preferred tasks and activities readily available nearby, worksheets uploaded, apps ready etc.
A challenge with telehealth has been the platforms required to provide it. When everything switched to remote learning and services, the platforms weren’t ready. I have experienced difficulties with clients logging into sessions, staying in sessions, audio difficulties, visual difficulties etc. This is beyond my control and again I always have a back-up plan/platform to change to. I am so fortunate that the families I work with are understanding about these kind of glitches.
Another positive I have found about telehealth is that I am able to accommodate more children daily than before. Now that I am not driving house to house, I can book clients back to back. This allows me more flexibility in scheduling as well.
I do not know how much longer I will need to continue with services provided this way. I do not realistically see myself servicing clients within the home until at least July. It is highly unrealistic for me to think about providing therapy from 6 feet away and wearing a mask all while having no access to disinfectants. In the meantime, I will continue to support my clients via telehealth. I feel truly fortunate that I can continue to work with my clients and their families in this way. I deeply miss seeing everyone in person and hope everyone is doing well and healthy!!