How will my SPED students receive services during this time?
COVID-19 created hundreds, if not thousands of problems school administrators have to address. One of those problems is the question of, “How will my SPED students receive services during this time?” Answering this question is not an easy one, and that’s why I asked Stacy Crouse to write this post. Stacy is an expert in the area of teaching students online, and she is an ASHA certified Speech-Language Pathologist and AG Bell certified Listening and Spoken Language Specialist. If you need to navigate to online services, Stacy gives insight into the real success that your school can experience.
Janet L. Courtney, MS, CCC-SLP
CEO Lighthouse Therapy, Online Therapy Services
Perspectives of a Speech Teletherapist during the COVID-19
In early March 2020, my family and I had just returned from a weekend at an indoor waterpark and hosted a birthday party for my son. The next week, I scrolled past a few social media posts making light of a toilet paper scarcity. A few days after that, COVID-19 became a common household word and I started receiving messages from fellow Speech-Language Pathologists around the world that were turning to teletherapy. After being a teletherapist for six years, I couldn’t have told you the last time I said the phrases “screen share” or “privacy compliant platform.” But suddenly I was talking about them around the clock in messages, webinars, podcasts, blog and social media posts, and tutorial videos.
Clinics and schools are closing indefinitely worldwide. Thousands of SLPs across all settings are researching options for how to continue some level of service to their clients and students, given so many unknowns in the situation we are facing. Teletherapy Facebook groups are flooded with thousands of new members that are understandable and frantically searching for answers to their questions about how to deliver speech services virtually. I truly feel for these professionals that are doing all in their power to do what they can for their students, while many themselves are experiencing emotional, psychological, medical, and financial effects of the situation.
Meanwhile, while the careers of many fellow SLPs are crumbling and face-to-face speech therapy services have come to a screeching halt for most kids, little to nothing has changed for me professionally. I’m sure some of my students and their families have some added stressors given the global pandemic, but therapy continues. No interruption of services. Hardly anything is normal now compared to a couple of months ago, but teletherapy for my students continues as it has all school year. As I reflect on the last month, I feel so grateful for teletherapy and also empathize with brick and mortar SLPs and their students in these times of extreme change.
I have always appreciated the benefits of teletherapy for me, my family, and my students. I have achieved a work-life balance that is easy to maintain. My students don’t miss sessions because a parent or sibling is ill, there’s traffic, they’re at grandma’s house for the day, or gas money has run out for the month. My students know me and I know them. They are engaged in a wide variety of interactive therapy games, books, and activities. My students’ parents are connected to their child’s therapy. One of my favorite benefits of teletherapy has been how I and my students’ horizons have been broadened through the opportunity of connecting with people across the country.
However, it wasn’t until a month ago that my appreciation for teletherapy deepened exponentially. Never in a million years did I count “global pandemics” as one of those reasons that I love telepractice as a service delivery model and believe in its power to have a positive impact. I never realized that one day, it would be a way to allow my students to continue to receive the services they need in a time when the world is quarantined to stay at home.
I do not mean to imply that schools and clinics should have had teletherapy set up years ago in anticipation of a pandemic spreading across the world. No one could have predicted this. But in an unexpected way, this situation has further solidified what I knew all along. Teletherapy is not only an effective and research-based speech therapy service delivery model but also an invaluable way to reach students worldwide, no matter the current circumstances.
Stacy Crouse is an ASHA certified Speech-Language Pathologist and AG Bell certified Listening and Spoken Language Specialist. She lives in Des Moines, Iowa with her husband and two children. She currently works full-time to provide school-based teletherapy services, as well as write blog posts on her website and create digital therapy materials for speech therapy and special education.
Your students can continue to participate in all of their related services. Let Lighthouse Therapy pair them with a therapist like Stacy. Schedule a consultation today!