What I Learned at CSHA

California Speech Language Hearing Association

This post is by Presence TeleCare’s Chief Clinical Officer, Melissa Jakubowitz.

I just returned from CSHA’s annual convention in Los Angeles. There was great turnout and an incredible amount of energy flowing in the beautiful old Biltmore Hotel. I enjoyed reconnecting with friends and colleagues, and was really encouraged by the positive response to my presentation on telepractice.

Since I was asked several questions about client selection, I want to emphasize that telepractice sessions are not appropriate for all clients. After all, SLPs never have a “one size fits all” program for all clients with a specific disorder or disability. As clinicians, we must use all available information to determine which approach or therapeutic techniques will work best for each particular client. We consider everything from the client’s goals and values to the clinical evidence before us in planning an appropriate strategy. The same is true for telepractice.

There are a number of areas that must be addressed in order to determine client candidacy for telepractice. ASHA has issued a Technical Report and a Knowledge and Skills document that addresses these issues (available at www.asha.org/telepractice).

The client’s physical and sensory issues must be carefully considered:

  • Can the client sit and attend to the SLP on the computer for an appropriate length of time?
  • Are there sensory issues that may affect the client’s ability to use headphones?
  • Does the client need consistent sensory feedback from the remote SLP and is this possible or are there alternatives?

Cognition and behavioral issues should also be addressed:

  • Does the client’s cognitive, hearing, and visual ability support their participation in a telepractice session?
  • Is the client able to sit in front of a computer monitor with and without behavioral support?
  • What is the client’s manual dexterity for using the keyboard and/or mouse?
  • What is the client’s ability to follow directions?

Other questions to consider include:

  • What are the cultural and linguistic considerations for the family?
  • Does their internet network support appropriate upload and download speeds?
  • Are they comfortable with technology?
  • Are there support services available—either a paraprofessional or a family member?

These are just a few of the questions that each SLP should think about in determining whether a particular client will benefit from telepractice. While this may appear time consuming, it is exciting to know that we can place SLPs anywhere the internet is available, including many places where clients might not otherwise be served.

The excitement and buzz around telepractice is growing rapidly. It keeps me energized about my work and excited about the daily challenges that come my way.  Looking forward to seeing you again at the next conference!