The availability and acceptance of online speech therapy is on the rise, and with good reason! Delivering services via online technology is convenient, improves access to care, decreases costs and can offer children and adults the same progress benefits as face-to-face therapy sessions do. (Want to learn more about providing online speech therapy? Discover the benefits or see it in action.)
Remote speech therapy services are currently used in a variety of settings, including schools, medical centers, rehabilitation hospitals, community health centers, outpatient clinics, universities, client/patient homes, residential health care facilities, childcare centers, and corporate settings. And according to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA), more and more states and Medicaid offices are mandating coverage for it.
There are no inherent limits to where online speech therapy can be implemented, so it’s an amazing way for Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) – along with Occupational Therapists (OTs), Psychologists, Social Workers, Counselors and Behavioral therapists (including Board Certified Behavior Analysts, or BCBAs) – to conveniently and more frequently interact with patients. If you’re currently offering online speech therapy as part of your services (or planning to do so in the future) here are some great ideas to consider implementing:
- Check the Tape
Certain online speech therapy platforms allow for HIPAA and FERPA-compliant session recording, as long as permission(s) are obtained. Take advantage of this capability by “going back to the tape,” to have students reflect on – and grade – their work. This can be especially helpful for times when you’re working on fluency and articulation skills.
- Challenge With Online Quiz Games
Take turns creating and answering custom quizzes about just about any topic. This is a great way to spark conversation focused on a person’s interests (think cars, music, animals, movies, sports etc.) Sporcle.com has a variety of categories to choose from, and the ability for speech therapists to build their own quizzes. Kahoot.com, meanwhile, is a favorite among teachers, and a much-loved tool for creating, playing and sharing fun learning games/quizzes on any subject.
Barrier games can sharpen many communication skills including: listening, oral language, social language, clear talking, understanding and using concepts. These types of activities are also great for extending the amount of information a person can understand or express within a sentence. Being in two different places means there is a natural “barrier” that works well in this scenario. To make it work, you will need two identical sets of materials, such as blocks, Legos, or miniatures (people, vehicles, animals, etc.); worksheets with cutouts; and sticker/picture sets or colored pencils. Take turns being the “talker” and the “listener.” First, the “talker” explains exactly what they’re going to do with their objects/pictures, and the “listener” must then do the same on their end. Compare your finished product, and take the opportunity to talk about items that were incorrectly placed or drawn. You can access some excellent barrier games here.
As an aside: While not a traditional barrier game, Mad Libs are also very engaging, and can lend themselves well to your online speech therapy sessions.
- Connect Through Apps
There are many apps that work extremely well for online speech therapy. StoryBuilder and Artikpix are two you may already be familiar with. Artikpix is an excellent flashcard and matching activity app with features for video recording, self-monitoring and more. StoryBuilder includes three levels of play where users record, save and share narratives. There are questions and audio clips to help inspire great story telling, and saved stories can be retrieved and later combined to make longer narratives. Bag Game, another app-based game, is a spin-off of Twenty Questions, with more than 100 adorable graphics that can be easily adapted for online speech therapy sessions. It provides many levels of difficulty, so that people of all ages can play against each other. This one reinforces turn taking, impulse control, theory of the mind skills, listening and more.
- Visit Sites Together
There are some excellent (and fun) sites that patient and therapist can access together via screen sharing (a must-have feature for your online speech therapy platform). One that online SLPs can check out is Speaking of Speech — an awesome place for sharing/exchanging materials including games, forms and more.
- Use the Virtual Whiteboard
Take full advantage of software with whiteboard technology, so both you and the people you work with can write, draw, and work on the same visuals. With a good connection and an easy-to-use whiteboard, you can both refer to the same handouts, write on the same practice sheets and/or pictures, and even play games designed to address specific therapy goals. Depending on the telepractice software you’re using, you might also be able to screen share favorite apps, such as Angry Birds, Minesweeper and other favorites.
- Work With Worksheets
Similarly to if you were sitting in the same room, you can use worksheets to great advantage remotely. You may need to involve family members to help with printing sheets ahead of time, or you can try uploading them through the online speech therapy platform you use to conduct sessions. Here’s a great place to find worksheets, or you can get creative with those you’re already using. A quality whiteboard feature on your online speech therapy platform can also be a great asset when using your tried and true favorite worksheets.