Speech Therapy Services Through Telepractice

By Laura Moorer, CCC-SLP  |  VP of Programs, Apraxia Kids

 

Telepractice is the application of video technology to the delivery of speech language pathology and audiology professional services at a distance by linking clinician to client for assessment, intervention, and/or consultation.  Telepractice is recognized by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) and supported by research as an effective modality to conduct services. It can be used to directly engage the child in therapeutic activities or to provide coaching to family members for how to work with their child on their objectives. The family and therapist should decide what is best for each individual child.

Before beginning telepractice:

The state licensure laws need to be checked to determine if SLPS are allowed to conduct telepractice and if there are any specific rules that should be followed.  For example, some states do not allow an initial visit by a therapist to be conducted through telepractice while other states do not specify anything about a first visit.  ASHA has a website with links to each state’s licensure body for a family member or an SLP to consult: https://www.asha.org/uploadedFiles/State-Telepractice-Policy-COVID-Tracking.pdf

If your state allows telepractice by SLPs, then the next step is to see if a specific insurance company includes provisions for coverage of speech therapy delivered via telepractice.  ASHA has another website with updated information on major insurance companies and if they reimburse for telepractice.  Many companies are changing their policy during this time to allow reimbursement for telepractice.  Check here to see if your insurance company has adjusted their policy: https://www.asha.org/uploadedFiles/COVID-19-Commercial-Insurance-Telepractice-Policy-Tracking.pdf

If you contact your insurance company and they do not cover telepractice, click here for a letter from Apraxia Kids that can be sent to the medical director of insurance companies asking them to consider changing their policy.  The ASHA link above also has templates of letters asking for changes to policy that an SLP or a state’s speech-language and hearing association can send to insurance companies.

 

Tips for Families:

Telepractice therapy sessions need to be individualized to your child as far as the length and frequency and types of activities.

You may need to help facilitate the activities with your child if they are not able to independently engage with the therapist via technology.

Telepractice may not work for every child, so it may be a useful tool to check in with your therapist to get ideas of things you can do in your everyday routines to help facilitate improved communication skills.

Telepractice will look and feel different from regular in-person therapy but that is ok.

You and your therapist are on a huge learning curve for doing this, so be patient and willing to try.

Ask your therapist how you can help and what materials/toys would be appropriate.

If possible, have a quiet room free of distractions, but if not, sometimes siblings can be an asset to the session!

Below are some additional resources and there are many more on our COVID-19 Resource List:

 

Tips for SLPs:

For SLPs, telepractice can be scary as it is a new way to do therapy.  But there are lots of resources available to assist with that transition.  Here are a few for getting started:

Telepractice is not less, it’s just different.  You can offer a trial to see if it is right for each child, but after that, you should charge your regular fee for your service.

Individualize the length and frequency for each child, their needs, and their availability.

It may not work for every child.  You can also use telepractice to talk with the families about ways they can incorporate practice into their new routines. Let your families know it is ok to not work on speech 24/7.  They need to be a parent/caregiver first.  If a child slows down progress or even regresses, they will be ok as they are resilient.  Lost words are not lost forever!

Send a plan or agenda to the family for each session so they know what to expect, how they need to help during the session, and what materials they should have available.  It might be helpful to start with a routine you typically did in therapy such as a song or favorite activity/book.

Consider your background and lighting so that you are easily seen and there is nothing distracting behind you unless you want it there to talk about!

Be patient with yourself and with your families on this new adventure.  It will take some time to adjust, but by working together, we can accomplish great things!

Below are some additional resources and there are many more on our COVID-19 Resource List:

 

ASHA also has made their ASHA Learning Pass available for free to all of their members through June 30, 2020. There are many webinars about telepractice and other areas that you can access at any time.

 

Here are some additional websites that have collated information for telepractice, including tips on group therapy:

 

Check the “Files” sections of these Facebook Group Pages with helpful resources:

  • Telepractice Collaborative Group
  • Telepractice for SLPs
  • Teletherapy Materials for Speech-Language Pathologists
  • Coughdrop AAC

 

Here are a few websites you could use or just share with your families to do on their own:

By Laura Moorer, CCC-SLP  |  VP of Programs, Apraxia Kids

 

Telepractice is the application of video technology to the delivery of speech language pathology and audiology professional services at a distance by linking clinician to client for assessment, intervention, and/or consultation.  Telepractice is recognized by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) and supported by research as an effective modality to conduct services. It can be used to directly engage the child in therapeutic activities or to provide coaching to family members for how to work with their child on their objectives. The family and therapist should decide what is best for each individual child.

Before beginning telepractice:

The state licensure laws need to be checked to determine if SLPS are allowed to conduct telepractice and if there are any specific rules that should be followed.  For example, some states do not allow an initial visit by a therapist to be conducted through telepractice while other states do not specify anything about a first visit.  ASHA has a website with links to each state’s licensure body for a family member or an SLP to consult: https://www.asha.org/uploadedFiles/State-Telepractice-Policy-COVID-Tracking.pdf

If your state allows telepractice by SLPs, then the next step is to see if a specific insurance company includes provisions for coverage of speech therapy delivered via telepractice.  ASHA has another website with updated information on major insurance companies and if they reimburse for telepractice.  Many companies are changing their policy during this time to allow reimbursement for telepractice.  Check here to see if your insurance company has adjusted their policy: https://www.asha.org/uploadedFiles/COVID-19-Commercial-Insurance-Telepractice-Policy-Tracking.pdf

If you contact your insurance company and they do not cover telepractice, click here for a letter from Apraxia Kids that can be sent to the medical director of insurance companies asking them to consider changing their policy.  The ASHA link above also has templates of letters asking for changes to policy that an SLP or a state’s speech-language and hearing association can send to insurance companies.

 

Tips for Families:

Telepractice therapy sessions need to be individualized to your child as far as the length and frequency and types of activities.

You may need to help facilitate the activities with your child if they are not able to independently engage with the therapist via technology.

Telepractice may not work for every child, so it may be a useful tool to check in with your therapist to get ideas of things you can do in your everyday routines to help facilitate improved communication skills.

Telepractice will look and feel different from regular in-person therapy but that is ok.

You and your therapist are on a huge learning curve for doing this, so be patient and willing to try.

Ask your therapist how you can help and what materials/toys would be appropriate.

If possible, have a quiet room free of distractions, but if not, sometimes siblings can be an asset to the session!

Below are some additional resources and there are many more on our COVID-19 Resource List:

 

Tips for SLPs:

For SLPs, telepractice can be scary as it is a new way to do therapy.  But there are lots of resources available to assist with that transition.  Here are a few for getting started:

Telepractice is not less, it’s just different.  You can offer a trial to see if it is right for each child, but after that, you should charge your regular fee for your service.

Individualize the length and frequency for each child, their needs, and their availability.

It may not work for every child.  You can also use telepractice to talk with the families about ways they can incorporate practice into their new routines. Let your families know it is ok to not work on speech 24/7.  They need to be a parent/caregiver first.  If a child slows down progress or even regresses, they will be ok as they are resilient.  Lost words are not lost forever!

Send a plan or agenda to the family for each session so they know what to expect, how they need to help during the session, and what materials they should have available.  It might be helpful to start with a routine you typically did in therapy such as a song or favorite activity/book.

Consider your background and lighting so that you are easily seen and there is nothing distracting behind you unless you want it there to talk about!

Be patient with yourself and with your families on this new adventure.  It will take some time to adjust, but by working together, we can accomplish great things!

Below are some additional resources and there are many more on our COVID-19 Resource List:

 

ASHA also has made their ASHA Learning Pass available for free to all of their members through June 30, 2020. There are many webinars about telepractice and other areas that you can access at any time.

 

Here are some additional websites that have collated information for telepractice, including tips on group therapy:

 

Check the “Files” sections of these Facebook Group Pages with helpful resources:

  • Telepractice Collaborative Group
  • Telepractice for SLPs
  • Teletherapy Materials for Speech-Language Pathologists
  • Coughdrop AAC

 

Here are a few websites you could use or just share with your families to do on their own:



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