Natalie has been working as an SLP for over 30 years. She joined PL in 2014 and is a lead clinician.
How has the PL online platform enabled you to help your students and the schools you serve in new ways?
I think it helps serve the students better because the students are drawn in more to the activities on the computer. The platform also lends itself to more turn taking. If you have kids in a group in a typical school setting, when you’re playing a game, kids will be reaching out to each other and getting into more interactions physically and verbally with each other because everyone is right together. But in the teletherapy group session, even though they are sitting right next to each other, they interact with each other through the screen because of the headsets. They’ll look at each other in the camera and talk to them that way. They tend to stop talking and listen when another student is talking. I have noticed better turn taking. It’s really interesting. I have also found that students that are shy or hesitant to speak will say more things when they have on a headset because it feels more “secretive.”
Can you tell us a little about how you collaborate with teachers and other school staff members?
Most collaboration for me is done via email. We also will use the room to log in and have a quick meeting sometimes.
How do you build trust and rapport with parents?
I love for parents to participate in the therapy session when appropriate. I will also speak with them over the phone. For IEP meetings, the school will log in to my room and it helps when they get to see me on the platform so they can put a face with the name.
What advice would you give districts considering online therapy?
My advice is to give it a try. I have seen kiddos make more progress using the online therapy platform as they get more therapy time. They are not losing time when the therapist is walking them to and from therapy. Therapy is taught ‘bell to bell’ with this model—the minute we log in, we get right to work. I also find that students respond very well to the use of technology. We have games on our platform where they can roll dice or use a spinner. They can use and move stamps and they can play games where they move their pieces around. Everything has some kind of language component. I use a game called Wahoo which is like Sorry. I’ve made different Wahoo games targeting different things. Whenever you land on a spot, you name two different meanings of words, or antonyms, synonyms, or categories for that word. The kids are competitive. They try to beat each other. They love it.
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