March 16, 2020
As a reminder, we are taking this day by day. Speak with your therapist to determine if your session will be held in-person or virtually. If the area self-quarantines we will be moving ALL sessions to telehealth. Some therapists may choose to do that effective immediately. Again, please check with YOUR therapist. They will also be in contact with you if they have not touched base already.
It is our goal not to miss any sessions during this time as continuity of services is important to your child’s goals and continued progress. Many of our kids thrive on consistency and knowing they have their weekly appointment. Teletherapy will allow us to keep up with that consistency and offers a sense of comfort for children, especially if any anxiety is present, which may be heightened at this time.
If your child is sick then the same illness policy applies as a therapist can schedule another patient during your time slot if they have 24 hours notice. A child who is ill (e.g., with a contagious virus or infection) will not be a good candidate for teletherapy so please keep that in mind and alert your therapist to reschedule AS SOON AS you know your child is under the weather.
“But is teletherapy appropriate for MY child?”
ALL sessions can successfully be done virtually but do require a parent or guardian to be present if the child is Pre-K age or younger. In most cases it may also be necessary for elementary aged children to have a parent or guardian present for a virtual session, too. In these scenarios the therapist will be present with you and your child over a HIPAA-compliant platform and will send you a link to join the session. They will have strategies to work on goals and keep the sessions fun. For example, if you normally have a play-based session we will have you set up on the floor with toys and engage with your child while the therapist guides the session addressing language and/or speech goals the same as if they were in the room. For fine motor, the OT can recommend the tools needed (e.g., crayons, paper, child safe scissors, movement activities to engage in with you, etc) ahead of the session and you can discuss what you have on hand to allow for different goals to be addressed without the OT physically at the table with your child. These are just a few examples of how we can successfully continue therapy from a distance.
Please know research shows that teletherapy IS effective in pediatrics (even for babies and preschoolers) and what we are doing and offering is deemed effective in the literature.
Note that there is a push for all companies to cover this type of service during this time due to the state of affairs. So while they may not typically cover it, there may be an exception in place. You will want to check! Things are changing in our favor of getting these teletherapy services covered DAILY.
The following companies have confirmed coverage for telehealth:
How does it work? Your therapist will connect with you via a program called TheraPlatform or Zoom. Prior to the appointment, you will receive an email containing the link to join the meeting. Children with basic computer skills, even as young as age 3 or 4 can participate. With these programs we are able to incorporate games, making therapy fun and engaging.
What equipment will I need?
A computer (desktop or laptop) with:
For the client, a quiet, low distraction area is best. We suggest a parent or other adult is in the room to assist with any technological difficulties or to help keep the child on task. The therapist will be in a quiet, confidential work zone.
Is teletherapy confidential and secure?
The Speech and Language Center uses a heightened degree of security by ensuring safeguards, including—but not limited to—password protection, encryption capabilities, de-identification processes, and invitation-only therapy sessions. We are bound by the same ethical, privacy, and confidentiality practices online as in an onsite setting.
Talking to Your Kids About Coronavirus
If you are looking for a source to help you know HOW to speak with your child, please go here:
“So what can we do at home?”
LET US KNOW how you are doing. What can we help you and your child with during this time? We are here and can discuss this during your regularly scheduled sessions regardless of whether they are in-home or online.
You can also use part of your teletherapy session to discuss any new challenges with being stuck at home for the next few weeks. Your therapist can help implement a SCHEDULE or ROUTINE that will help your child thrive during this time. Involve your child in the conversation to help get their buy in to the *new* schedule.
Allow your child to have some downtime and JUST play. Play and rest is needed by young children, so allow them to engage in it - don’t feel like you have to fill every minute of the day to replace what they would have done in school ~ not necessary!