There’s no reach-out-and-touch-someone in teletherapy so, accommodations must be made. Fortunately, there are several innovative techniques to compensate for sensory input differences during online therapy. I’ll share several over the following months. Here’s this weeks….
If you do oral-oriented therapy, you don’t have to totally change your type of therapy, just the manner, and perhaps the pace, you present it. Following are a few accommodations for oral-oriented tasks.
- Demonstrate the desired positions and movements with your own mouth. Make sure the lighting is appropriate: use a Throat Scope®, or a penlight, and double-check that your on-camera face is well lit from the front.
- Intensify the use of auditory and visual sensations. Consider using the Reflector Teacher screen mirroring device. (Love this thing. I sprung for the minimal purchase price and I’m glad I did; I use it in my online seminars.) Instead of snuggling up close to your computer’s camera that distorts the image, yuk, demonstrate your oral movements with your phone’s camera. The image that’s on your phone is projected onto the screen. VERY handy.
- In clear, child-friendly language, explain step-by-step tasks and what you expect them to do. As during in-person therapy, never assume online that the child got it just because you said it. Their eyes may be with you, but their brain may not be. Repeating and restating are therapy strategies.
- Ask the client to close their eyes and focus intra-orally to increase proprioceptive awareness.
- Encourage them to think about their tongue. Say, “focus and feel” a gazillion times.
- Ask them oral-focused questions: Tell me what you feel. What is your tongue touching? Is your tongue on the bottom, in the middle, or on the top? Do you feel the sides of your tongue touching the sides of your top teeth? Do you feel your front-tongue touching the bumpy part behind your front teeth?
Be Comfortable and Stay Healthy
Following are a few practical get-through-the-day suggestions from Sarah James, M.S., CCC-SLP, my friend who has implemented telepractice for 15 years. She knows her stuff.
Sitting for extended periods of time, in the same position, looking at a computer screen can be detrimental to your health and negatively impact your competence. Have a plan to keep your body healthy; it is critical.
- Consider positioning, movement, and ergonomics to combat pain and fatigue.
- Adjust the position of your screen in relation to your keyboard.
- Consider a wireless keyboard and mouse.
- Think about standing. A desk (or desk surface) that can be adjusted to a variety of heights is invaluable and encourages standing as well as sitting. [Char here, I use a VariDesk and really like it. It is pricey, however; perhaps ask for it for Christmas!] Use an anti-fatigue mat when you stand.
- Use an office chair and balance ball chair (Amazon has several) interchangeably. They allow movement throughout the day and provide a variety of sitting positions.
- If you are so inclined, do stretches and yoga at the beginning, middle and end of your day.
Over the next few months, every two weeks I’ll send brief, practical teletherapy tips and information. If you have a specific topic you’d like addressed, let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now rise to the challenge and enjoy your therapy!
Thank you for all you do for your therapy-kids.