Like so many of us privileged enough to soldier on during school closures, I got to embark on a new adventure amidst all the chaos by trying my hand at teletherapy for the first time.
What a WHIRLWIND.
PSA: Learn, but don’t be afraid to stick with what you know
It was like the heavens opened and manna rained down… boom cards and other “elearning” freebies and webinars. Bootcamps were EVERYWHERE. I was overwhelmed with the generosity. I picked up electronic everything, but when I started teletherapy I got in sync again with my “Style” and I applied mostly “how to use the software” tutorials.
Each person has a groove and while it can be great to shake it up, with the switch to teletherapy already in play, I just couldn’t sustain any more CHANGE. If you are a “cards” person or a toys person (me!), don’t be afraid to use the real thing first, if that is what you usually use. The takeaway is to run towards what you know or what you can “keep”, and then add as you go. In the future, I know that will save me a lot of startup and sanity.
There were so many families here in my rural Midwest that had no internet or in one way or another indicated that teletherapy was not a fit for them with everything going on in the world. Some just never called back.
I prepped paper packets and developed “low tech” resources too, which started a competition for my work hours. I was juggling two workloads and that was TOUGH.
I had this unrealistic expectation that I would have all this time to get all sorts of background paperwork done. Not so. There was MORE to do, because of the logistics change, mindset change, addressing the stres
s of colleagues and families and the fact that I was running two treatment modes at the same time.
I felt disconnected from the students I didn’t hear from and from many of my teachers who were likewise learning from scratch. A little lonely at times.
Because of where I live, I had to use my phone’s data plan, in my car, in the middle of a cornfield for adequate signal. My joints were less impressed than my Principal.
Tech FTW! (For The Win!)
With teletherapy, the families that I had were getting so much more focus and individualization from me. My data improved dramatically and I was able to constantly turn over targets to increase success and productivity for the weekly “homework”
The progress I saw in my teletherapy families was refreshing, invigorating, challenging and Highly Addictive. I already miss it.
My teachers were jealous that I was getting to spend time with their students, so much so that it inspired them to get out there and spend video time with their students. I became a hub of learning for how you use various teleconferencing platforms.
I learned so much in a brief period of time and got some ASHA hours to boot.
Parent coaching is one of my favorite things about my part time job (0-3yrs Early Intervention) and getting to reach parents in the school was equally rewarding. I got to build up and encourage while training them to work with their families while I’m not there. The effect feels as good as compound interest on a savings account.
Next time, I will be more aware of how to jump in and hit the ground running with the things to look forward to (and avoid). Teletherapy was, like most things, a realistic mix of “pros” and “cons”. I am incredibly grateful to have it in my toolbox for the future.
Author: Amanda Owens, MA CCC-SLP