Interview with Ellen Estomin

Ellen Estomin, former Special Education Director of Pittsburg Public Schools, recently spoke with us to share her perspective on telepractice.  Read on for the full interview below:

What excites you about telepractice?
I think it opens an avenue that we haven’t explored before when we are talking about not being able to find someone on site. As a special education director, and as a former administrator for speech and language programs, I would definitely consider telepractice for positions when I could not find anyone. I would use it for substitutes, as well as full-time positions, in case I can’t find anyone.

How would you explain telepractice?
Telepractice is when services are delivered by a certified professional, but the person is not located on site. I would make the analogy to telemedicine in that both give you access to service through technology.

What would you tell speech therapists about telepractice?
It’s an option that they may never have considered before, can provide services without having to travel, and can be provided from home. The field of speech and language pathology has so many options and this just opens up another.

What would you tell special education directors about telepractice?
When they are unable to fill positions because of shortages, for medical leave or any other reason, then this gives them another option. I would also tell them that this is through technology and to make sure that they have the equipment hardware and software that they need. Certainly, given the shortages in SLP availability, it gives SPED Directors another option to make sure that services are provided.

Last question:
There are some things that schools need to consider. For example, who is going to be with the student?  Schools will need someone to escort students to sessions and to monitor behavior while the student is participating in the session. They also have to figure out a way to connect the telepractice SLP with general education, special education, and parents.