Mar 16, 2021 The effects of the current pandemic have been both challenging and long-reaching. The same applies to the current situation with kids with speech and language disorders and their families.
With the current restrictions, how do these kids get the services they need? They can’t meet in person with their speech therapist. They can’t go to the school where they might receive services. Also, every US state has different requirements that are without many solutions for speech therapists or the families they serve.
In This Article
This is the backdrop for the origins of a webinar that could address those challenging and long-reaching issues. Speech and language pathologists (SLPs) want to serve their clients, kids want and need their services, but how?
Teletherapy – especially for kids with Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) issues – was in its relative infancy before the pandemic. Also, again, state regulations differed greatly from state to state. There are also issues regarding privacy, services crossing state lines where regulations differ, and even having a child who doesn’t like to see him/herself on video, or can’t sit still in front of a camera, or when a parent isn’t present. Enter the Texas-size problem-solver Sheryl Wilcox!
How This All Came About
In September 2020, Sheryl Wilcox, Early Childhood Special Education Specialist at the Education Service Center for Region 19 in El Paso, TX, approached Speech Blubs for help in finding resources for sharing experiences about telepractice services.
One thing led to another and it evolved into who could host a virtual training session for El Paso SLPs. The focus became how to get organized and learn about some tips and tools for their telepractice with the current COVID-19 restrictions. We immediately thought of Rachel Madel, M.A., CCC-SLP, co-host of the “Talking with Tech – AAC podcast” to lead the 2-part webinar.
After some amazing organizational work by Sheryl and our own Jaka Z., the teleconference took place in two sessions in March, with part 1 called “Telepractice Considerations for Complex Communicators,” and part 2 called “Engaging Telepractice Tools and Ideas for AAC Communicators.”
Webinar on Teletherapy and More
Part 1 explored assessment and treatment options of children who have complex communication needs and can’t rely on speech alone. They use either sign language, technology, or a combination of both.
Part 2 covered how to plan and perform virtual sessions, along with tips, tools, and other resources to help speech therapists excel online with kids and parents. Rachel discussed her most useful time hacks (including some of her favorite tools) for working more efficiently, talked about the difference between consulting and coaching, gave ideas for improving tele-AAC sessions, HIPAA compliant tools, and listed some of her favorite websites and apps for complementing her telepractice.
SLPs Consider the Complementary Tool Speech Blubs 2
This dovetailed into a short presentation of Speech Blubs 2, and some of its benefits. She described how the app works, its methodology of using peer video modeling and augmented reality, and gave examples of how she likes to use it in her sessions. She ended by telling the SLPs that their supervisors gifted them free lifetime access to the app!
The attendees all seemed thrilled by the content of the webinar. They even responded to most common issues of how to deal with kids who have trouble sitting still during sessions.
We are honored to help SLPs face new challenges and to contribute to the rapidly-changing area of telehealth. Speech Blubs continues to pursue ways of helping parents and children during this pandemic. The topics include raising awareness about speech practice at home, educational screen time, fewer evaluations, even longer waitlists than before, etc.
Stay tuned for more podcasts on continuing education and speech-related topics here on Speech Blubs!
Reach out when you have questions on how to use Speech Blubs to improve speech at home!