Access to services is often one of the biggest barriers in helping children with speech and language delays. To develop confidence and become effective communicators, these children need consistent therapies and supports. Thanks to advancements in technology, many families can now access speech and language therapy via online services with little to no barriers. But are online speech pathology appointments as effective as face to face sessions?
Short answer is yes. Of course, when you are navigating your speech pathology journey, you want to be sure that the service you are accessing is right for your child. You want to know that the work and time you and your child put in will augment the best outcomes. Just like a face to face appointment, online appointments are guided by your child’s interests, their abilities and challenges, and are informed by the clear goals set from the outset. They are interactive, flexible, and fun. In this blog, I will provide an overview of what online appointments look like, the benefits and how they can help your child grow.
What is an Online Speech Pathology Appointment?
Online speech pathology appointments, also referred to as Telehealth, are services many speech pathologists offer to ensure they can support families in a variety of contexts. This could include families in remote locations, those unable to travel, and those looking for a flexible service delivered in their own homes.
Utilising a high-speed internet connection, and a device (laptop, desktop, tablet or even phone), you and your family can connect with a qualified speech pathologist and build communication and language skills in an interactive environment.
Online appointments can include one-on-one therapy for children, parent support sessions and assessments. These services provide families with access to and support for the following:
- Speech, Language and Communication Difficulties – This includes access to services that will support those experiencing expressive and receptive language difficulties, stuttering, specific language delays, or those with communication difficulties associated with a diagnosis including ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder.
- Learning and Literacy Difficulties – Includes access to services for those experiencing specific learning disorders (dyslexia)
- Social Communication Difficulties
- Training and Home-Based Practice – Includes support and education for parents to continue speech therapy in a variety of contexts
- Assessments – Includes online and interactive applications with the provision of reports as required by NDIS or for diagnostic purposes.
Online therapy sessions are usually better suited to children aged five years and above. This is because they are able to sit and interact with a device, and are more capable of learning in an online context. During therapy sessions, your child will engage in fun activities including sound practice utilising visuals, interactive games to build language skills, reading and writing activities to build literacy skills and more. Just like face to face appointments, online sessions are individualised and utilise your child’s interests to encourage engagement.
If your child is younger than five years of age, the parent-based approach to therapy is best. During parent sessions, you will have access to support and educational materials that will empower you to be your child’s teacher, so to speak. You will build the skills to deliver speech pathology practices within everyday situations.
Additional resources and support materials are usually provided via email and will aid in the delivery of each online service.
What are the Benefits of Online Speech Therapy?
When it comes to understanding how online speech pathology appointments can help your child, we need to be aware of all benefits. Not surprisingly, online speech therapy has seen an increase in recent years, thanks to the National Broadband Network and access to equipment. And this growth has augmented improvements in the delivery of these services, ensuring that online appointments can achieve the same outcomes as a face to face sessions.
A Growing Understanding’s team have been delivering online speech pathology services for many years, and have found the benefits for both families and speech pathologists to be extensive. Some of the top benefits are highlighted below.
We all know how hard it can be to schedule appointments in amongst school, sport, music lessons and any other commitments. And then there is the travel to consider and your own work commitments – just getting to an appointment can be a big challenge. With online appointments, there is no travel. There is no sitting in the waiting room. You can schedule an appointment at a time that works for you and your family, and you can access that appointment at the click of a button. Simple, quick and accessible from your own home.
Achieve Greater Outcomes
No matter the service, you want your child to grow. You want them to achieve their goals and improve their skills. The good news is, online services do that just that, and in some cases can help your child achieve even better outcomes than a face to face session. Take a child with poor listening and attention skills, for example. The interactive nature of an online session and the use of headphones might be just what they need to stay focused and improve their skills. Likewise, a child who is not comfortable with in-person therapy may find online services presented in their own home to be a more comfortable.
With minimal administration and no travel costs, online speech pathology services could be more affordable for your family.
Interactive and Fun
Children love computers and technology, and online speech therapy is a great way to acknowledge this interest. When coupled with interactive games and fun activities, online speech therapy ensures your child remains engaged for longer and achieves a sense of accomplishment.
Whole Family Approach
With the service being transmitted straight into your lounge room or kitchen, it is reasonable to expect that the entire family can benefit from the service. The A Growing Understanding team ensures every service, face to face or online, includes parent education and support. While we focus on the skill development of your child, we also provide ongoing tips and support to ensure you are empowered to continue speech therapy in everyday contexts. Plus, all services are supplemented with support materials and helpful resources.
Develop Computer Skills
Because online services utilise computers or tablets, your child receives the bonus of building their computer skills. As they interact during their session, they will be increasing their mouse control skills, typing skills and building an understanding of various online applications.
How Can Online Appointments Help Your Child?
Simply put, online appointments give you access which means your child can continue to grow their skills no matter what the situation may be. If you would like to take advantage of the flexibility of online speech pathology services, talk to our team today. We will guide you through the online process and ensure you and your family receive the right services and support to ensure the ongoing development of essential skills.