How Effective is Teletherapy for Early Intervention?
Concerned that your baby doesn’t babble, isn’t walking yet, hasn’t imitated words, or isn’t meeting other milestones? Parents’ intuition and knowledge today lead many to seek help for boosting their child’s development at an early age.
Whether related to speech and language, feeding, fine motor skills, sensory processing, or gross motor skills, the research is similar. As pediatricians and many parents know, kids show high levels of improvement and outcomes when they receive the services they need at a young age (specifically, between birth and 3 years-old).
Concerns surrounding the Coronavirus and efforts to limit exposure to others have caused many parents of these young children to delay seeking help. This doesn’t have to be the case! Teletherapy offers a safe, effective way to deliver early intervention services including Speech, Occupational, and Physical Therapy.
What is “teletherapy”? Also referred to as telehealth, teletherapy is therapy that is provided over a secure video connection. TherapyWorks provides speech, feeding, occupational and physical therapies along with social work via telehealth. Research shows that this model of services is effective for children of all ages, and includes added benefits to younger children and their families.
Effective Family Coaching Model
Teletherapy for children at this young age follows a family coaching model that is proven to be effective1. No, your child would not be expected to sit in front of a screen for 60 minutes each week! Therapists are face-to-face with families, giving caregivers ideas for activities throughout the session and sometimes before it begins. Parents, you’ll play and interact with your child as a therapist coaches you on how to use specialized techniques to improve your child’s skills.
This model of therapy allows parents to actively participate in their child’s care and gives them hands-on practice using tools they’ve learned to improve a targeted goal for their child. That falls directly in line with the core principles of the Early Intervention model2.
Parents and family members in the home interact most often with children and are their true teachers! Weekly teletherapy sessions give these meaningful people in the child’s life the knowledge and skills they can continue to use daily to improve his or her development.
Better Access to Therapy
Traditionally, early intervention services have been provided by a therapist who comes into the family’s home to work with the child and parents. However, given the current pandemic, some parents are not comfortable with this. Families living in rural areas or areas deemed “unsafe” may not have access to working with the specialists their children need. Teletherapy has been proven as a solution to this issues3.
When a child receives Speech, Occupational, or Physical Therapy via teletherapy, parents save time and money on expenses. They aren’t driving to and from clinics sometimes multiple times per week as they would with in-person therapy.
More Consistency (and Progress!)
Consistent attendance is crucial for a child to make progress in therapy. But sometimes, life gets in the way of attending weekly sessions. Transportation, weather, vacations, illnesses, and schedules commonly result in parents needing to cancel their child’s therapy sessions.
Teletherapy allows children to attend the therapy sessions they need consistently because parents can often avoid cancellations when the child is able to join therapy sessions from the comfort of their home.
Keeping a regular schedule with little ones isn’t always easy – especially for children under 3. It can be tricky to find available therapy times in between naps and meals, especially with added travel time to and from therapy clinics.
By receiving therapy online, parents can log on and off instantly in between daily activities, and may have more scheduling options that better fit into their (and their child’s) life!
If you’re ready to take advantage of the benefits of teletherapy for your little one, contact TherapyWorks to schedule a free consultation with a specialist who can help.
- 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
- Cole B, Pickard K, Stredler-Brown A. Report on the Use of Telehealth in Early Intervention in Colorado: Strengths and Challenges with Telehealth as a Service Delivery Method. Int J Telerehabil. 2019;11(1):33-40. Published 2019 Jun 12. doi:10.5195/ijt.2019.6273