It’s been about ten months since COVID started shutting down the country. SLPs, students, clients, families, teachers, etc., have had to jump into tele- therapy as quickly as COVID arrived, and we are ALL EXHAUSTED.
It’s not news that there’s no table of contents or a how-to-guide when it comes to virtual speech. It’s also not news that some kids just don’t benefit from tele-therapy. The disheartening part of this is we have no finish line in sight. As long as COVID is here, we will have to adapt. To attend to a screen for speech therapy requires a lot- joint attention, eye contact, attention, engagement, motivation, etc. Sometimes due to a child’s severity in speech and language skills, they don’t have these skills. Or, they’re just not into it.
So, what do you do?
Here are my five recommendations when speech tele-therapy just isn’t working:
- Find out if parent/caregiving coaching is available from your SLP. Maybe your child can’t sit and attend to a speech tele-therapy session, but you can! Find out if you can grab a session with your SLP to be taught directly how to interact and incorporate your child’s speech and language goals at home. There is nothing better than hearing strategies straight from the SLP’s mouth! Your child can be present if possible to practice strategies so the SLP can see and hear in order to provide you accurate feedback
- Get materials for at-home use from your SLP. Often times, your SLP can send home videos, worksheets, pictures, word-lists, etc. with explicit directions (2x/day for 10 minutes each) for at home practice. This is especially helpful when you aren’t available to speak to your SLP due to work, daycare, etc. Not sure how to practice? Ask! There are specific ways to practice speech depending on your child’s needs.
- Take notes. While speech isn’t happening, keep and eye and ear on what your child is doing. Are your child’s skills increasing, remaining the same, or regressing? At the least ,we want your child maintaining the skills they learned in previous speech sessions. If you are noticing obvious regression, it may be time to figure out how to at least meet with your child’s SLP on your own.
- Send videos of your child to your SLP. Not all SLPs have the time to watch videos and provide feedback unless it’s a billable service, (which it may be!). It’s worth it to ask your SLP if it’s possible to do weekly video consults where you send a video of your child actively engaging in speech and language activities to gain feedback and keep their SLP in the loop. Be aware, this will likely not be a free service, but it does not require your child to sit in front a screen! Sometimes, you can even get away with them not knowing they are being recorded.
- Embrace the break. Unless your child’s speech and language skills are dire and have a high likelihood of regression without intervention, take the time you would normally be attending speech sessions and do something together. How many times have you commented, “We can’t do that, we have to go to speech. We have to do that later, we’re going to be late for speech.” It’s time to get out those books, paints, toys, etc., and spend time TOGETHER. As Ruth Stoeckel said so accurately at the 2019 National CAS Conference, “The best app is your lap.”