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Clinician Spotlight: Kimbra K.

For Schools

, By Dana Bell

Kimbra K., MA,CCC-SLP, transitioned to teletherapy after a long career as an SLP in brick-and-mortar schools. A meeting with a woman who specialized in working with students with behavior problems and dogs was life-changing. Through this relationship, she discovered animals and kids with issues are a perfect match. Since then, Kimbra has integrated her many therapy dogs into her teletherapy practice with remarkable success.

What do you enjoy about being a provider with PL?

I enjoy the flexibility it provides with scheduling, the wealth of activities and resources, the online provider community, The Lounge, in which you can have support from your peers at your fingertips, and the ability to be able to support school districts who are struggling to meet the needs of students due to COVID-19.

What were you most surprised about when you made the transition to be a teletherapist?

I was most surprised that the majority of my students were motivated to work with me online and that it was not a significant barrier.

I am teaching and working with 8th and 9th grade students. When you are in a brick-and-mortar school, it is hard enough to get them going and inspired. I probably have put more time into planning and preparation because it is a different format. But yet the majority of these students are thrilled. They remember, they come on time, they want to learn, they’re motivated. 

I’ve had a few challenging students…one has selective mutism and the other just doesn’t like to talk. They’re both in the same group. With all the different types of activities that I am able to do with these students—I am still coming up with new things. It wasn’t the barrier I’d expected. Just to be honest, about three or four years ago my special education director mentioned and brought up to the SLP team, “Why don’t you start doing teletherapy?” I protested the most. Then with COVID-19, I was one of the first ones to start doing teletherapy with Google Meets. Everyone else was not interested. And I thought, “This is really fun!” I saw that I could make progress with my articulation kids. I have a couple now that have oral motor challenges, and I saw I could do oral motor therapy. There were therapies that were very successful that I could have never guessed. It opened my mind a lot.

What have been some of the most significant challenges you have faced in your teletherapy practice and how have you worked to overcome these challenges?

The most challenging aspect has been working with the two students who have characteristics of selective mutism. Thanks to my therapy dog, Luna, we were able to have breakthroughs. These two students, I tried so many different activities, and couldn’t get anywhere. It was the one therapy I was regretting because it was just so challenging. And then I thought “Duh, why don’t I try my dog? I would use Luna in school with these kids.” This is an area that for some reason I didn’t even think about it. 

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