Getting Clever in Teletherapy and at Home: Making it Work!

One of the best ways to be successful as an SLP is to connect with children, parents, and teachers.  Building these relationships is just as important as the day to day intervention you do.  These relationships allow you to carry over skills into the classroom and into the home.  Forming a solid relationship with a child means they are going to enjoy being with you, listen to you, and learn.  Forming a relationship with a parent means they will try things you suggest, "buy" what you are "selling", and come to you when they need help and have questions.  Forming a relationship with a teacher means that you are able to help them if they need it provide support in the classroom (for times when you are and are not present), and give them the resources they need to teach children with special needs (potentially in a regular education setting).  

When you're working with children....make sure you find something that interests them!  Make yourself entertaining, friendly, approachable, and encouraging.  Make them happy to see you.  This carries over for the entire time that you work with them.  Chidlren need encouragementpraise, and positive support.  We want kids to want to go to school and to thrive while they are there!

(All 4 kids on our "fake" back to school picture....I figured out quickly that I didn't need to put that kind of pressure on ourselves.  The perfect before the first day of school picture.  So, we fake it each year)

When you work with parents, praise their efforts.  Say at least 3x more positive things than negative things about their child.  Sure, you may have to let them know if their child is biting or engaging in other non-desired behaviors so that you can address these, but parents need to hear the good things even more.  I can tell you first hand, hearing negative things about your child is draining.  If this is coming from school: you weren't there, your child may not be able to help it, and you feel defeated with each negative report.  If you're parenting a child with special needs, you're already emotionally and physically tired.  Parents need encouragement, praise, and positive support.

Make sure you are sending your families off in the best way possible after each session.  We want them smiling and thriving.  

(Lucas and Mom)

When you're working with teachers, praise their efforts too.  Teaching a child with special needs in any classroom is challenging, but it's especially difficult in a regular education setting with little training or support in place.  Be sure to 1) build the teacher's trust, 2) offer them whatever you can, 3) avoid adding to their workload.  You can offer them your contact information, give them free visuals/resources, and be an ear when needed.  Be sure to communicate with teachers about what went well during your session, even if parts weren't great.  There's nothing worse than sending a happy child off to speech and receiving a mad/sad child with an SLP who says "it didn't go well today".  Teachers need Parents need encouragementpraise, and positive support.

Here is a free set of name badge cards that some teachers appreciate having.  You could make these for teachers...take the workload off of them...and be patient and polite while they use them (and try not to be offended if they choose not to).

You can find these and other classroom/home freebies on my teachers pay teachers site here.  

I have one little friend who is quite wiggly, both in person and in telepractice.  Working with this child can be a struggle.  His mother came to me in a meeting and said "HELP!" I have worked with this child since the fall in the regular early childhood setting and most recently switched to teletherapy with his mother and the child at home. His mother has been AMAZING.  At first, he ran from me over the video phone.  So I asked some questions: 1) what is going really well right now at home?, 2) what is NOT going really well right now at home?, 3) What does he love? (these three questions are a great way to start any teletherapy or coaching session).  

We realized he loves: numbers, shapes, and Peppa Pig.  So, Mom and I both got very creative.  I scrounged around my house and found every Peppa Pig, shape, and number activity and figurine known to man.  Mom told me that he LOVES this one I found it and put it on my device, just like on his.  Then, I got working to bring it to life.

I pair his favorite Peppa Pig video with my figurines, puzzles, and picture cards.  All of the sudden....this sweet boy- who has been SCREAMING and RUNNING at home is sitting, signing, and talking.  

Given coaching and caregiver education, Mom now knows the signs for "more" and "all done".  She knows how to use hand-over-hand with her son.  This has worked!!!

Just this week....the child has now: signed and spoken “more” (by himself!!),  said “byebye”, is verbally counting, and naming shapes/colors!  

We’ve had more trouble with receptive tasks, which happens to some children, especially if attention and/or autism are factors.  This child’s Mom got clever and got busy: she bought spray paint and painted shapes on her grass.  I gave her the goals and the coaching....and she put them into place at home.  For receptive taks, she can name shapes and he can stand on them!   What a clever Mom!!

I should also mention that this mother’s native language is Spanish.  Her son refuses ALL Spanish and will only respond to English (since birth).  So, Mom has also learned English just to communicate with him.  Parents are amazing.  

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