Speech and language therapy during a pandemic is not the same as Teletherapy.
In typical teletherapy:
- Technology is readily available
- It is held in a controlled environment
- Support personnel are generally available
- Everyone is there by choice
Does this sound like the situation that you have been living in?
Yes, speech therapy during a pandemic and regular telepractice do share things like choosing appropriate therapy and evaluation activities and the need for technology. Let’s see how things are different.
In Speech and language therapy during a pandemic:
- Clients are in the home environment
- Technology isn’t always readily available
- There isn’t support personnel on site
- Emotional stressors for clinicians and families are high
- Economic stressors exist
We will carry the lessons we have learned during 2019-2020 into the next several years.
As speech-language pathologists we have taken the role of advocates for educational policy changes to make virtual learning equitable, by ensuring that all students have access to social services, internet, technology, and support. We have become family-centered interventionists, all with the common goal of “empowering and supporting our students to tell their meaningful stories” (Phuong Palafox, Heartbeat of SLP 2019).
Ask Important Questions
I’ve learned how to to ask important questions that help me connect with the families I work with and understand how I can best work with them. Great questions include:
- What is your greatest wish for your child?
- What are your fears for your child and your family during this challenging time?
- What is your favorite time of day with your child and how can we create meaningful communication opportunities?
In the grind of this unpredictable school year, I vow to prioritize relationships with my family and friends, and with my students and my students’ families. If I’ve learned anything from the last year, it’s that “my SLP worth is not based on my productivity, It is based on my humanity,” (Phuong Palafox, Heartbeat of SLP 2019).
Acknowledge the Difference
I’ve experienced and seen the comfort my students have felt from acknowledging the difference between in-person speech therapy and teletherapy, while maintaining a similar routine structure that is engaging, predictable, and rooted in play, literacy, compassion, and humanity.
Let’s learn from each other’s teletherapy experiences. Let’s build trust with our schools, our administration, our families, our co-workers, our communities and our students.
Address the Impact of the Pandemic on Minoritized Communities
Let’s engage in important conversations about how Black and Latinx communities are being disproportionately impacted by Covid-19; medically, educationally, and economically. Let’s acknowledge our implicit biases before we work closely with students and families as to not do more harm than good.
We created a 5 part course with everything that you need to know to get you up and running with teletherapy. It will be available on October 15th.
Join us in celebrating and lamenting teletherapy successes and failures. Learn engaging and equitable strategies and approaches that work in-person and virtually so that you are prepared for any school changes that come your way.