Parents aren’t the only ones that love online speech therapy. Many children, from toddlers to young adults, prefer to meet with their speech therapist in an environment that’s familiar and comfortable. Children growing up today are digital natives, and they quickly adapt to many of the interactive online games and activities that speech therapists use to reinforce valuable speech therapy lessons.
Each child has their own unique learning style, preferences, quirks, and attention span. The better you can prepare your child prior to each speech therapy appointment, the more they’ll get out of the session. While we’ve covered the benefits of online speech therapy previously, in this article we’re going to focus on how to set your child up for success before each appointment.
How to find an online speech therapist
If you’ve decided to pursue online speech therapy, it starts with finding a certified speech therapist that’s specialized to your area of need. However, many families aren’t just looking for a therapist - they’re looking for a partner. Someone you deeply trust, can build a strong relationship with, and is fully committed to helping your child excel at reaching their communication goals.
With online speech therapy, there’s an additional consideration to take into account: your therapist’s experience with delivering teletherapy. Providing online speech therapy isn’t necessarily harder than delivering on-site or in-person therapy, but it is different. For example, experienced online speech therapists aren’t just skilled at delivering therapy, but also at keeping younger children engaged virtually. They employ a number of techniques and strategies to keep children's' attention, and to create a fun and engaging learning environment. They know how to find and adapt the things that keep children motivated to an online setting, incorporating objects and toys children currently use at home.
In short, online speech therapists bring a wealth of experience and best practices to each session. Children likewise will be more engaged, willing to participate, and have more productive sessions.
4 ways to prepare for your speech therapy session
This is a short checklist of things you can do with your child before each session to create an optimal learning experience. They include:
1 Remove distractions
Every minute with your speech therapist is valuable, and we want to remove any unwanted disturbances that could interrupt the session. For example, close the windows to block out the sounds of fire trucks (or ice cream trucks!), turn off the TV, and remove pets from the room. In addition, close out any other programs running on the computer. To help with any transition woes, give your child a few warnings before the session begins that it's almost time for speech therapy.
2 Get your computer ready
Nothing can slow down an online speech therapy session like computer problems. Make sure your internet is working, your computer or tablet is charged, and your camera and microphone are activated. Your camera should be positioned so your child's face is easy to see. Of course, it's critical that you have access to the link you’ll be using to connect with your speech therapist over video chat. If you find yourself constantly misplacing this link, make sure to bookmark it for easy access. Join the session a few minutes early so you can be ready right when your therapist arrives.
3 Find comfortable seating
Creating an enjoyable workspace for children will help them stay focused during the session. Once you find your child’s sweet spot, we recommend using the same learning area each session. It’s also important to know that just because therapy is delivered through video screen, that doesn’t mean children will be seated the entire time. Leave enough room for your child to move if needed.
4 Tell your speech therapist what your child loves
Oftentimes, speech therapists will incorporate things that your child loves, like their toys, into language-building activities. So if your child has a favorite stuffed dinosaur or set of building blocks, or there's a game they enjoy playing, make sure to share those with your speech therapist.
Attend speech therapy with your child
One of the biggest advantages of receiving speech therapy online, versus a more traditional setting like a school or clinic, is your ability to be more involved in your child’s care. With online therapy, you can sit alongside your child during sessions, learn from your speech therapist first-hand, and cultivate stronger relationships.
What does this all mean? It means your child isn’t the only one that should attend their appointment with an open mind and willingness to learn - you should, too! There are many strategies, cues, and at-home exercises your speech therapist will provide so you can incorporate speech and language skills throughout your child’s daily routines.
Additionally, no one spends as much time with your child as you. Online speech therapy helps you keep an open line of communication with your therapist and provide regular updates. Has your child recently shown progress? Said a new word? Pronounced a sound correctly? Or encountered a new challenge? Great! All this information will inform your speech therapist’s treatment plan to best help your child reach their communication goals.