Prepare children with autism for speech teletherapy during coronavirus lockdown.
The coronavirus lockdown has led to a huge change in daily schedules, habits and living environments. It has been a very difficult time for all of us and particularly challenging for children with autism or anxiety issues. The coronavirus has shut down schools, parks, bowling alleys, hair salons, sports leagues, restaurants and it has also closed down speech therapy clinics.
Kidmunicate decided to close well before the mandate and some parents questioned us. At the time, we wondered if we were overreacting, but we made the decision to ensure the safety of our little clients, their parents or guardians, our work family and the community. Now, of course, as the coronavirus rages on, that decision seems like a no brainer. The day before we closed, we talked to all of our clients. They were certainly concerned about the conornavirus, but they were also concerned about their children missing speech class. Continuity of care is so very important.
Luckly, as soon as we first heard about the covid-19 cases in Montgomery County, we initiated a teletherapy alternative plan. We immediately started working with insurance companies to allow us to offer this option, invested in a teletherapy platform, and trained our speech-language therapists so that we could convert to a telepractice as quickly as possible.
We had a very successful launch of the speech telepractice program and the feedback we are getting from the speech-language pathologists, parents and kids has been overwhelmingly positive.
One success story comes from a delightful client who we will call Denny for the purposes of this post. Denny has autism. He often struggles with change and is prone to frustration. Denny’s mom did not want her son to miss speech because he was making great progress, so she was thrilled that Denny could keep speech on his schedule. She was fairly confident that Denny would respond well to the teletherapy approach because he loves video games, however, she is not one to leave things to chance. She wanted to prepare him and asked us to write a social story for this new teletherapy approach.
Denny’s mom read the attached social story for a few days prior to the first teletherapy session. That session and the next session were both very successful. In fact, Denny may have responded better to this approach and his therapist may continue even after the coronavirus has been defeated.
We are sharing Denny’s social story with you so you can prepare yourself and your child for speech-language teletherapy sessions.
Here’s what we recommend:
PREPARE – Use this picture story to start preparing your child for teletherapy.
- We recommend that you read the story daily at the same time of day during the days leading up to the first session.
- Customize the picture story by adding or eliminating elements that are not relevant for your child.
- Send us an email and we will send you the Powerpoint® to customize.
- Note we use Theraplatform which has many built-in games, some platforms are just video conferences.
Set an Appointment
- Call the office and schedule an appointment just as you would do for any in office visit.
- You will get an email invitation with a link to the scheduled therapy session.
- It will come from your child’s therapist via Theraplatform.
- If you have not been on the platform before, you will need to register. It’s quick and easy.
- Set up the computer, iPad or iPhone with access the high speed internet (recommended 150 kbps or greater), wifi or mobile data in a room with minimal distractions.
- Headphones with microphone are recommended. This is especially important if there is some background noise (dogs, brothers, sisters, etc).
- Make sure your camera (recommended 15+ frames per second) is working. You might need to change your preferences to allow camera access.
Be Ready to Help
- Younger children may need supervision to get the most from the therapy session.
- You may need to troubleshoot technical problems especially if your internet connection is spotty.
Relax – Plan for the best, be ready for challenges and keep practicing.
- There may be technical issues from time-to-time or your child may need time to adjust to the new approach.
- Your child’s therapist will help you through it.
The Kidmunication Point
The coronavirus has impacted all of us. We have all had to adapt. We are all learning new skills or approaches. We have been considering offering teletherapy for several years, but never pulled the trigger. This national emergency forced us to act and maybe, just maybe, this new platform and approach will be a better option for some of the kids we treat. It certainly seems like it might be really beneficial for Denny.
Download the PDF Kidmunicate Social Stories: Preparing for Telethearpy. If you want the Powerpoint® presentation to customize the story for your child’s specific needs by adding personal images or images that more align with the platform you are using for teletherapy, simply submit a note below in the comment box below or by email and we will gladly send it to you for free.