What are the Top 5 Misconceptions of Teletherapy?
Telehealth, telemedicine, telecommute, teletherapy…
More and more services are being provided virtually, which sounds great – convenient and safe. With the rise of the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve all had to make some accommodations. You have likely had to adjust to something in your life going virtual – such as your work or your child’s school.
But not everything can be done over a screen, right?
Some parents may be unsure whether Speech, Occupational, or Physical Therapy provided electronically would work for their child. While staying safe during a pandemic and having easily accessible services is important to them, they also want to get their children the help they need in the most effective way possible. The truth? For most children needing therapy, telehealth does exactly that.
Here are the top 5 misconceptions of teletherapy, debunked.
Myth #1: My child is too young.
Parents of young children, you may be thinking that your child is not ready to look at a laptop for an extended amount of time to participate in teletherapy.
This is not what teletherapy looks like for babies or toddlers!
The importance of early intervention (therapy for children from birth to three years-old) has been proven. And parents of these children don’t need to delay therapy, they can start participating in teletherapy immediately.
Therapy for kids in this age range typically includes a parent coaching model. Parents play and interact with their child in their own home as their therapist coaches them on how to use specialized techniques to improve their child’s skills, and gives ideas for activities. Research1 has shown that this approach is indeed effective.
Myth #2: My child is too active/doesn’t have a long enough attention span.
Therapists can incorporate activities that let your child move and allow for breaks throughout a session to give more active kids the sensory input they need. There is an abundance of online activities at our fingertips that can be specially selected to match your child’s interests and learning style. By using features like screen sharing, kids stay engaged by doing things like listening to an e-book or playing a fun game of Connect Four with their therapist while working on speech and language, just as they might if they were receiving therapy in person!
Myth #3: Teletherapy isn’t as effective as in-person therapy.
Wrong! Several research studies have proven that receiving Speech, Occupational, or Physical Therapy virtually can be just as effective as attending in-person sessions. Teletherapy gives children who may not be able to receive therapy (due to distance from a clinic, safety concerns, or scheduling difficulties) access to services. When children with speech sound disorders receiving therapy in person or virtually were studied side by side, they were found to make the same level of progress2.
Myth #4: Virtual therapy adds too much screen time.
From toddlerhood to high school, parents of children all ages are aware of the warnings to limit screen time. However, when children are participating in teletherapy, their brains are actively engaged, they are communicating, and they are socially interacting (either with the therapist on the screen or their parent who is being coached through activities). Dynamic therapy sessions that mix online activities with tasks children can actively complete in their home means parents don’t need to worry about this adding static, unhealthy screen time.
Myth #5: Children won’t form a personal connection with their therapist.
If you’ve had your child in therapy before, you know it is so important for him or her to establish a connection with the therapist. When children do this, they are generally more cooperative and engaged in therapy sessions. There might be a screen separating a child and their therapist, but they are still face to face, positively interacting on a regular basis, and participating in fun activities together. With teletherapy, therapists have the added bonus of being “present” inside the child’s home with his or her toys, pets, and family. This can form an even more personal connection between the child, parents, and therapist!
Now that we’ve laid some myths to rest, you may be eager to get started with teletherapy. TherapyWorks provides Speech, Feeding, Occupational, and Physical Therapy via teletherapy. And if you’re still unsure whether virtual therapy is right for your child, you can set up a free phone consultation.
- Chantal Camden, Gabrielle Pratte, Florence Fallon, Mélanie Couture, Jade Berbari & Michel Tousignant (2019) Diversity of practices in telerehabilitation for children with disabilities and effective intervention characteristics: results from a systematic review, Disability and Rehabilitation, DOI: 10.1080/09638288.2019.1595750
- Grogan-Johnson S, Schmidt AM, Schenker J, Alvares R, Rowan LE, Taylor J. A Comparison of Speech Sound Intervention Delivered by Telepractice and Side-by-Side Service Delivery Models. Communication Disorders Quarterly. 2013;34(4):210-220. doi:10.1177/1525740113484965