What is online speech therapy, and does it work?
Online speech therapy, also referred to as telepractice, is the telemedicine equivalent of speech-language pathology services. According to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association, “Telepractice is the application of telecommunications technology to deliver professional services at a distance by linking clinician to client, or clinician to clinician for assessment, intervention, and/or consultation. It is the position of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) that telepractice is an appropriate model of service delivery for the profession of speech-language pathology.”
So...what does that mean?
For speech therapy services, the speech-language pathologist meets with clients online. Many providers use a videoconferencing program that can be accessed on a computer with an internet connection. Speech-language pathologists meet with clients in real-time to administer assessments and provide ongoing speech therapy. In some cases, speech-language pathologists meet with parents, caregivers, or other service providers for consultations about clients’ needs and progress.
What technology do I need?
Clients can meet with their speech-language pathologist using a laptop or desktop computer. A webcam and microphone are also needed. Many computers come with built-in microphones and webcams. However, noise-cancelling headsets help block outside noise and provide better quality, especially when working on articulation. External webcams are more mobile than built-in webcams and thus can be helpful in many circumstances. Your speech therapist can let you know what technology will be the best fit for your needs.
Is online speech therapy expensive?
Most clients already have the necessary equipment to engage in online speech therapy. If not, it can be purchased inexpensively. For the actual speech therapy services, a client can expect to pay close to what you would pay to an in-person provider.
Does online speech therapy actually work?
There have been many independent studies conducted over the past 15 years that show the effectiveness of online speech therapy (telepractice). These studies are published in peer-reviewed journals and show that client outcomes are very similar to in-person speech-language therapy. In some cases, clients are even more satisfied with online speech therapy due to its convenience, engaging technology, and ability for family members to be involved. Speech-language pathologists must adhere to national and state regulations regarding the use of telepractice. The quality of services must be equivalent to what clients would receive in an in-person interaction, so clients can feel confident knowing that they are receiving the best care. Below are a few research studies on the effectiveness of online speech therapy.
Research on the Effectiveness of Telepractice:
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