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How does online speech therapy work?

Online speech language therapy is the same as in person speech therapy except it is conducted online! Speech language pathologists conduct speech therapy and evaluations over the computer in a virtual space. We use high end technology and provide engaging activities to motivate our client’s over a secure HIPAA compliant platform to ensure our client’s privacy.

What does an online speech and language evaluation entail?

If you have a concern regarding your

child’s speech, language, voice, fluency, or cognitive communication skills, a certified online speech and language pathologist (SLP for short!) can help! First, the SLP will want to screen your child. The SLP will collect information in regards to your child’s development and take a thorough case history. Next, the SLP will make sure that you have a computer with a camera, a strong internet connection and a headset for optimal hearing (if appropriate). Once a complete case history is gathered and access to a computer and the necessary equipment is obtained, the SLP will send a meeting link through email. The meeting link will enable you to join the meeting using a HIPAA compliant platform (we use Zoom). During the screening, the speech language pathologist will meet with the child and the parent over the computer. The speech and language pathologist will informally talk with the child as they play or talk about something that interests them. Following the screening, the speech and language pathologist will determine if further evaluation is necessary.

For some children a formal evaluation may be administered. A SLP is trained in the use of standardized tests, such as the Goldman Fristoe Test of Articulation-3 (measures a child’s articulation skills). In this instance, the SLP will use a document camera and share the computer screen with the child so that the child can see the pictures being displayed in a book. This type of assessment will yield scores that can be quantified and used to determine a child’s performance when compared to typically developing peers (mild, moderate or severe).

Some children will not be able to participate in a formal evaluation, however, and in this case, informal measures will be used. For example, the SLP will collect a speech sample (a recording of your child talking while playing or engaging in a conversation) and/or have the parent and/or teachers complete a questionnaire. After collecting all the relevant information, the SLP will determine if your child has a speech, language, voice, fluency, or cognitive communication delay and at what severity (mild, moderate or severe). At this point the SLP will develop a plan of treatment (including the development of goals to work on) and make recommendations regarding the frequency of treatment.

What does an online speech therapy session look like?

A speech therapy session is typically 30-45-60 minutes long depending on the age of the child and the child’s ability to attend and participate. Speech and language therapy varies from client to client and each program is tailored to the specific child. Some children may be able to do drill based activities (say a word 10 times) while others learn new speech and language skills through play. Some of our younger clients' sessions consist of parent coaching focusing on teaching how to use evidence-based strategies during play and functional activities in an effort to improve their child’s speech and language skills. Despite the variability from child to child there are certain components that are included in an online speech and language therapy session.

In the beginning of the session the SLP will review the skills that were practiced (using visual support and child friendly language of course!). Next, the speech language pathologist will encourage the child to practice their skill while engaging in motivating games and activities. We use amazing online sites chock full of digital games like, Crocodile Dentist, Space Wars (similar to Connect Four) and Don’t Break the Ice. We also have online puzzles, board games and card games! The speech therapist's goal is to provide the child with as many opportunities to practice a new skill as possible (and get it correct!). It is very typical for a SLP to use visual supports, such as pictures and/or gestures, to support the child in producing sounds or to help a child understand language. Depending on the child, the parent will be given “homework” to practice the skills during the week between sessions.

I hope this helps with any questions you may have about online speech therapy! I have been an "in person" SLP for 25 years and I can attest that this model of delivery is just as effective as in person speech therapy for most children. If you have a question or concern regarding your child's speech and language skills let us help! Book your FREE online screening today!

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