Written By: Karen Jacobsen, M.S., CCC-SLP
I tend to use what is in the child’s environment during treatment sessions. Younger children, especially attend better during teletherapy sessions when favored objects and toys are part of the session. I should also mention that if the resource is not free, I am less inclined to use it. While I understand the importance of paid content, I do not want to have to pay numerous monthly subscriptions and am mindful of how many clients I can use any given resource with. If the resource allows me a free trial I can try it out and if I find it useful I will consider purchasing it. In general, I am willing to put up with a few ads to avoid paid content whenever possible.
As part of my crash course in teletherapy I took a couple of continuing education courses online. Both emphasized gathering volumes of resources so you would never be at loss during a session. Personally, I have found that a volume of resources makes it challenging to find anything in my bookmarks and I do not want to halt therapy while searching for the perfect resource. In an effort to maintain fluidity in a session, appropriately engage the child, and target necessary goals I have adopted the following approach:
- I look at what the child is doing when they first come to the screen. For example, last week one of my clients was finishing his snack. The parent attempted to take the food away and I asked them to leave it. This client and I had a mealtime conversation and I targeted a goal for expressive prepositions using food. Silly, yes, but entirely engaging and following this teaching task the client demonstrated an increased use of prepositions throughout the session.
- If they do not have something already, I ask the parents to grab some favorite toys. I have one client who is always ready to go with his tub of dinosaurs. Targeting his receptive and expressive language goals is something I do in the moment with these preferred items. I usually choose one or two goals to target during dinosaur play which can sometimes last the entire session.
- Online books are one of the best resources for adaptability across clients. My workplace has a subscription to Epic books https://www.getepic.com/app/read/39982 and the wordless picture book, “ The Monkey Goes Bananas!” has been a staple across my treatment sessions for the past two months. I have adapted this wordless picture book to target language goals with clients from ages 3-11 years. Of course, there are many book options on Epic, but the monkey book is one most of my teletherapy clients request almost every session.
- The online resource K-12 Reader https://www.k12reader.com/ has been an amazing resource for older clients and those with language learning and executive function difficulties. K-12 resources provide guided instruction in language, reading, spelling and other school related areas all nicely organized by grade. The reading comprehension units are helpful for targeting specific areas such as main idea and character analysis. Vocabulary and grammar units target a number of expressive language functions using content that is appropriate for older learners. I have tried a number of resources for elementary school aged clients and K-12 Reader is now the only one I use online to address reading comprehension, spelling, vocabulary, grammar, syntax, and written language with this age group.
- My teletherapy articulation clients are older and I have found Home-Speech-Home https://www.home-speech-home.com/ enormously helpful in finding target words for this age group. This website has a large selection of vocalic R targets which I have often found difficult to find. I have set a goal with one of my articulation clients for practicing 100 R’s per session. His reward for accomplishing this is 5 minutes of control over my whiteboard at then end of the session. Home-Speech-Home has resources beyond articulation, including helpful ideas for games and activities to pass on to parents for home practice and to use when you are seeing clients in person.
Additional resources I have used include:
YouTube videos with content specific to client interests
The internet is full of resources and this can feel overwhelming. Many of us are also seeing clients who would not normally be considered appropriate for teletherapy. It can be challenging to find the right balance and create a productive and desirable pacing and tone in any given session. Teletherapy is a bit awkward and I think acknowledging that it is not the most natural way to communicate is important. Ultimately some clients and families will do better with this approach then others. I have suggested some resources that work well for me and the clients I am seeing via teletherapy. The important thing is to have a few durable resources that will take you from client to client and that you can go to if your session gets stuck. Keep things simple, use your best clinical judgement, and be present for your clients and families, you will do just fine.