Previous to 2012, if you looked to see if “telepractice” was a trending, often googled topic- the answer would be no….. Graphed as a flatline. In Jan 2012, that changed and now it is a growing interest with people researching and searching “telepractice” on a daily basis.
Telepractice has allowed speech therapy to grow with the rapid and evolving technology curve. While working in the schools I began to notice similarities between pain points I was experiencing as a therapist, the school was experiencing, parents of kids in speech as well as friends of my who were speech therapists across the state in different districts. Hot topic pain points:
1) Communication: Having open communication with all parties involved in a student’s educational plan can often be difficult. Although progress reports and annual meetings can address student’s progress during the school year, it doesn’t address the day to day progress and skills that are being worked on.
Think about a student receiving speech services, their support team may include (but definitely is not limited to): Parent, Teacher, Speech Therapist and Principal. Just trying to coordinate an annual ARD meeting for those people to get together one time a year, was often a headache. Imagine trying to keep up on a more consistent basis with what is being worked on and progress.
2) Carryover: Parent’s and teachers would always ask “Should he be getting speech more?” of “Is 2 times a week enough” etc….. My honest answer is no, but what I think often is overlooked is the responsibility of ALL parties to carryover skills with the student. Speech Therapists are the skilled professional to work on speech/language skills, however these skills need to be worked on outside of the speech session as well. The problem is, most teachers and families are not aware of what student’s are working and the techniques that are showing to be successful.
3) Efficiency: Speech caseloads should not be viewed as just a number. What many districts/administrators tend to forget about are the students that are in RtI as well as the workload associated with the caseload. The last year I was in the school district we used a program called Caselite- it was incredible. https://www.caselitesoftware.com/index.html
This program helped with scheduling of my students, attendence, data collection and much more. My favorite feature of their program was showing my “Caseload” vs. “Workload”. Being time efficient while maintaining quality therapy services becomes a challenge. Therapist would be grouping 4-5 students together in a 30 min session, by the time you get the kids from class all down to the speech room, get everyone settled time has ticked down to about 25 min of therapy. This of course divided by the 4-5 kids in the session, doesn’t lead to the most appropriate therapy. However, there are only so many hours in the school day and in those 7-8 there are only select times that the students can be pulled out for speech. This makes the balancing act of appropriate grouping (size and skills) quite complicated.
4) Creativity and Engaging Speech Sessions: I knew this would be a problem when I had a 3-year old tell me she got an iPad for her birthday. As much as I enjoy Candy Land, I knew it had nothing on Angry Birds and Fruit Ninga on the iPad. Again, this isn’t all students but I noticed the motivation of my student’s change whenever I would introduce technology as a reinforcement.
After leaving the schools and beginning with Aspire Therapy Services, we began to notice the same challenges when working with school contracts. On top of that, we had acquired some districts with distance campuses or campuses with only 1-2 students on the speech caseload. The time and cost efficiency of sending therapists to these campuses began to become a concern and as telepractice was on the rise….. myskybridge was created.
Myskybridge was built by therapists addressing their concerns along with families and teachers.
This platform is all encompassing of housing lesson plans, real-time comments and feedback as well as allowing a student’s parents and teachers to access worksheets being used in therapy.
Checkout out www.myskybridge.com for more info