Lindsey T., M.A, CCC-SLP, is speech-language pathologist, teletherapist, and parent of four children. She joined the PresenceLearning Care Network in 2015. We spoke with Lindsey about her experience working as a teletherapist.
How has the PL online platform enabled you to help your students and the schools you serve in new ways?
I have been able to provide services to districts that do not have an SLP. In addition, I have been able to provide virtual services to students in their homes which is super convenient for them.
The PresenceLearning Library has a ton of resources which is really great. Whenever I have a student on my schedule who I haven’t met before, or a special ed director calls me and wants me to see a student right away, I can quickly type something in on articulation, autism, cleft palate, whatever the issue is, and there are all these activities and handouts available instantly. Before I’d have to search through books and now it’s at my fingertips.
Can you tell us a little about how you collaborate with teachers and other school staff members?
First, I build a solid foundation. I get to know them and tell them a little about myself. Flexibility and availability help a lot too. I make sure they know how to reach me by phone and email. And I give them ideas and support. I’m super available. I always make sure the schools know they can call me or text anytime. They know how to reach me multiple ways. I make that really clear so they can always find me.
I always start with a welcome letter—I’ll say a little about where I went to school, my experience, how long I’ve been practicing, where I live. I put a couple personal notes in there. I’ll talk about my kids and what they like to do for fun. And at the bottom I always put a picture. Right now I have a photo of myself with two of my daughters. This helps them realize I’m not just this random person on the computer. I actually have a family and I have a life too. I think this helps a lot.
How do you build trust and rapport with parents?
It comes down to that solid foundation of trust, support, listening, and connection. When I am in the homes with a virtual school situation, it’s important to let the parents see me in action in the therapy room. I ask them if they have questions and I always give them homework to help them to feel included.
For the brick-and-mortar school districts I support, I call my parents at the beginning every other week. And I make sure I send emails regularly. If there’s ever an issue (which is rare), I’ll invite them to observe a session.
What advice would you give districts considering online therapy?
It works! I have seen so much progress with my students using the online platform and the students and parents love it.
It comes down to data to really measure the progress. I’ve been doing this online since 2015. Every once in a while I pick up cases in my hometown where I am actually with a student physically. So I’ve taken a lot of data and it’s amazing. For example, a simple goal, if we’re working on the “r” sound, I do see more progress online than in person. The only thing I can really attribute it to is the headset and the computer and they’re really focused on it. Whereas when I am one-on-one, there are lots of distractions—noises at school, or in the home, siblings running around.
The reason why the kids like it so much? I do develop those relationships. But also, we’re in a techie world now so the kids love playing on the computers. And they think it’s really cool to talk to a real person. And there’s usually an assistant on the ground so they get to develop a relationship with that person too. So they have relationships with two people. A lot of times I’ll do groups and they’ll see multiple kids on the computer so that’s fun for them. We’ll have conversations/chat sessions where we all get to talk with each other. And they love all the games, stickers, and animations that PresenceLearning makes available.
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