COVID-19 and Speech Therapy: What Will Happen?
“Uncertainty” is a big word going around at the moment, so we think it’s important to provide some CERTAINTY wherever we can. COVID-19 is having impacts on just about every aspect of our lives at the moment, and your or your child’s speech therapy is not excluded. The good news is, it's not bad news! We’re here to answer some simple questions you might have around what therapy will look like from now on, how it will work and how to make any necessary changes happen as smoothly as possible.
Will therapy continue?
Yes! Absolutely. We are committed to continue support even though face-to-face sessions are no longer possible. We have now switched entirely to online sessions.
How will therapy be delivered online?
We use the secure platform of Zoom, which you may already be familiar with. It is available on any device, including computers, laptops, tablets and phones.
How do I set it up?
It is not essential, but we have found that it works more smoothly when families download Zoom prior to their first online session. It is free and can be found at this link: https://zoom.us/download If you are using a tablet or phone, just head to your app or play store and download the Zoom app. After this, you can make a simple account. Please ensure you have a stable internet connection and your camera and microphone are working. At the time of your session, your Speechie will email you a link. After clicking this link, Zoom will open automatically and you can click the button “Open Zoom” and then “Join with Computer Audio”. And voila! You will be connected. If you have any problems at all, don’t worry, your Speechie will be in touch over email or phone to help you troubleshoot. But it is a very easy and quick process.
How will my child be engaged online?
Just as our Speechies arrive to your home, childcare or school with a bag full of toys, or you walk into our practice rooms to a haven of toys and games, fear not! We will be coming well-stocked to your screens as well! In preparation for an entire switch to online sessions, we have been pulling together fantastic resources to use with our families. Yes, there will still be games, there will still be activities, your child will still have a blast!
Do I have to be present during the session?
For some teenagers and adults who are independent, it is fine to be one-on-one with your Speechie. For younger children or those who require more consistent support, we ask that a parent or caregiver remain present in the room to troubleshoot any technological hiccups and keep an eye on things (i.e. child running off to the toilet without notice, child accidentally shutting the laptop, oops). And as always, it is best for you to be a part of therapy and learn how you can continue support at home.
My child’s therapy is play-based and language-focused, how will that work?
We see many young children for whom therapy is very centred around play, following their lead, commenting on what their doing and encouraging interaction. This is actually very conducive to online sessions. The child’s best teacher and facilitator with these types of goals is YOU, the parent. Your Speechie is just your coach. So plop us down on the couch or propped up on the table wherever you are playing with your child, and we will provide the tips and tricks we have been in our practice rooms. We’ve already had some great feedback from our Speechies working with existing telehealth families, that it is an invaluable way of seeing interactions and language within the home; the child’s main environment.
Is teletherapy evidence-based?
Yes. There is great research and evidence supporting the use of teletherapy and it is a delivery model supported by our national governing body, Speech Pathology Australia. You can head to the SPA website to find the Position Statement on Telepractice.
My child’s needs and/or level of interaction are just not going to work with online therapy…
For some goals and some children, the online environment may be more difficult to pair up. In this case, support becomes more consultative. Here is your opportunity to ask all the questions and get all the information and strategies you’ve been gleaning from your previous sessions, when we have had to chat as quickly as we could in between the children loudly spinning Frutti Frutti and vying for our attention! We can use this time to really pull apart the daily challenges you might be facing at home and discuss functional strategies for you to try over the week. We can provide you with resources and “homework” to practise, just as we have been previously.
Video calls freak me out!
Don’t worry, we get you. We are happy to be flexible to make your access to therapy as smooth and comfortable as possible. Just let us know if you’d prefer a consultative phone call instead.
Will it cost more?
Nope. Sessions will be treated as a normal “In” visit (as if you were coming into the practice). For some families, this will be cheaper as travel charges won’t be applied (if the child was previously seen at school, home, etc).
We hope this has covered the key questions you may have surrounding the future of speech therapy for the next few weeks/months. But don’t hesitate to ask if you have more! We are still reachable by phone and email so please do get in touch.
The breakdown of consistency in our lives and the massive daily changes we are experiencing are hitting us all hard. We know the significant impacts that gaps from therapy can have on our children and families, so rest assured that we won’t let speech support be added to the endless list of events and services that are currently being cancelled. You can count on us.