The spread of the internet has greatly improved communication. Distance is no more a deciding factor in keeping relations alive. People prefer video calls over voice calls for better interaction. The advancement in technology has opened a new avenue in medical treatment known as Telemedicine. Telemedicine and Teletherapy is basically medical consultation or therapy using the internet. You can connect with your Doctor or Therapist over a video call and discuss your case and undergo therapy as you would have done in person. Let us find out about the advantages of Speech Therapy at home or online Speech Therapy.
What is Teleaudiology or Online Speech Therapy?
Teleaudiology is the use of telecommunication technology to connect the therapist with the patient. In the case of Speech Therapy, the therapist can conduct a proper therapy session. Both the therapist and the patient need a computer with a webcam and a good internet signal. With Teletherapy the distance between the patient and the therapist is immaterial. It could be a few kilometres or a few thousand kilometres.
What Are The Advantages Of Speech Therapy at Home?
The volume of searches on Google for “Speech Therapy near me” or “Speech Therapy Centre near me” and “Speech Therapy at home” indicate that people are interested in a Speech Therapist close by. Online Speech Therapy has many other advantages as given below.
1. Can We Take Appointments Online for Speech Therapy at Home?
Yes, we can certainly connect to the Speech Therapist or their office online. No sitting for hours in the clinic waiting room. It is difficult if the child becomes impatient and refuses to cooperate. Small children are generally scared of new places as well as Doctors and Therapists in white coats. Online consultation also eliminates the chances of forgetting old case papers or reports at home. This needs another appointment and visit.
2. Does Online Speech Therapy Reduce Travel Expenses?
Regular physical visits to the clinic of the therapist can be expensive. In most cases the child cannot use public transport, one has to drive down or use a taxi. Depending on the case and severity of the problem, the Speech Therapist may need to conduct more than one session a week. Over a period of time, petrol and taxi bills can be substantial. Speech Therapy at home or Online Speech Therapy can cut these costs totally.
3. Can Online Speech Therapy Prevent Social Stigma?
Many parents do not want others to know that their child is undergoing Speech Therapy. Parents prefer not to be open about it due to the social stigma and the fear of their child getting bullied by their friends. Regular travelling to the clinic and back will not keep this fact hidden.
4. How Does Anonymity Help Online Speech Therapy?
People find the internet less threatening. Parents open up about their children’s issues and share more details compared to a face to face meeting. Communicating over the internet gives a feeling of anonymity, protection and comfort. This is one reason why people end up giving their personal details to strangers on Social Apps.
5. How Does Online Speech Therapy Increase Consistency And Regularity?
Dropping children to the Speech Therapist and picking them up is a time-consuming task. Working parents divide the responsibilities among themselves. At times office meetings and commitments do not allow them time to drop and pick up the child. In these circumstances, the child misses the therapy session.
Reasons like extreme weather conditions, small ailments like cold and cough, vehicle breakdown can result in cancellation of Speech Therapy sessions. Online Speech Therapy eliminates absenteeism in all the above cases.
6. How Can Online Speech Therapy Keep The Child from Falling Sick?
Children with a delayed speech disorder may have other health issues. Children with low immunity are prone to infections. These children are best kept isolated from others so they do not fall sick repeatedly. Online Speech Therapy eliminates the chance of catching infections. A weak child may get tired travelling to and fro to the clinic or special school every day. Tiredness will reduce the attention of the child.
7. How Does Online Therapy Maintain Good Health?
Mothers provide food and snacks to the child travelling to the Speech Therapy clinic or special school. It is not possible to carry a full hot meal. The child has to eat cold food which is not good for their health. With Teletherapy the child can have freshly cooked hot food within the comforts of the house.
8. Can Online Speech Therapy Result in More Sessions?
Online Speech Therapy totally eliminates travel time and transport worries. The child and the parent do not suffer from travel fatigue and exhaustion. This additional time can be best used to schedule more sessions. The advantage of flexible timings helps in accommodating a higher number of sessions. Speech Therapy Sessions can be conveniently scheduled on weekends, holidays and late evenings as per the availability of the Speech Therapist. More Speech Therapy sessions will result in improved results.
9. Will Teleaudiology Gives Us A Wider Choice Of Speech Therapists?
In the case of online Speech Therapy at home, one does not have to depend on the locally available Speech Therapist. You have heard of a Speech Therapist who is magical with children, but have not approached as her clinic is far away. With Teleaudiology, you can approach the therapist of your choice. Distance is not important for Online Speech Therapy. Give your child the best possible therapy.
10. Is Remote Location A Disadvantage for Speech Therapy?
You are staying away from the city in a small town. There are no Speech Therapists close by or the only one has no free time slots to offer. The neglect and delay in starting therapy are unfair to your child. With Online Speech Therapy, your remote location is as good as the location of the person in the City. You can connect to the Therapist in the City, all you need to ensure is a good internet signal. Signal strength should not be a worry as telecom companies have penetrated the remotest of areas.
11. Can Online Speech Therapy Show Better Results?
In selected cases, Teletherapy can show better results. Some children are very shy and introverts. These timid children do not interact well with the Speech Therapist or other students in person. In these cases, the psychological comfort of the house and the presence of the parents will result in better performance.
12. Is Online Speech Therapy Advisable For Restless & Attention Deficit Children?
Another advantage of Teletherapy is that there are fewer distractions. The child will not concentrate if easily distracted by other students. The child is generally attracted to the screen and the headphones. In the absence of distractions, the child’s progress is better.
13. Does Teleaudiology Offer More Resources?
The Speech Therapist has access to the best teaching resources from all over the world. The internet offers more resource material compared to what a Therapist can provide at the clinic. Selection of teaching resources can be on the basis of likes and preference of the student. This enables increased interest and participation from the student. All the therapist has to do is to use or buy the resource material offered by others in the field. More resource material helps the child to progress.
14. Does Teletherapy Make Children Tech Savvy?
Children are good learners. Their ability to grasp new technology is faster than grownups. Small kids become good video gamers and can operate new gadgets effortlessly. Exposing children to gadgets like a PC, iPad or a tablet will help in their overall development. Exposing them to online games increases their mental and physical agility as well as logical reasoning.
15. Can Online Speech Therapy Help In Language Preferences?
There are a number of languages and dialects spoken all over the world. People migrate from one Country to another to work or for a better life. Children of migrants requiring Speech Therapy may not be comfortable with the foreign language. As the spoken language at home is the native tongue. Teleaudiology can help in connecting to Speech Therapists in their native Country for better results.
This is very much relevant in Countries where the immigrant population is high. Or in Countries like India where language and dialects change from one State to another.
16. Does Family Participation Help In Faster Improvement In The Child?
The Speech Therapist devotes a few hours to the child at the clinic or at the School. The child spends the majority of the time in the company of the parents. Most Speech Therapists involve the parents in the therapy. Parents should continue Speech Therapy exercises at home. This brings about faster improvement in the child.
During the Online Speech Therapy session, all the family members can take part in the session. The learnings from therapy will empower the family as they will be well informed and can help the child overcome the abnormalities.
17. Does Online Speech Therapy Define Goals Better?
With the participation of the parents, the goals become more defined. The parents and the family members can see the improvement for themselves. Speech Therapists regularly hear parents say that the child talks in the clinic or special school but does not talk at home. At home, the parents can feel the joy of seeing their children talk and converse with the family members.
18. Can Speech Therapy at Home Also Help The Elderly?
Speech Therapy is not only for children. Many elderly people also undergo Speech Therapy. The Speech Therapists is also an expert in handling issues related to swallowing of food or swallowing disorders. Swallowing disorder is also known as Dysphagia. A paralytic stroke or an accident which affects the muscles of the face prevents the person from chewing and swallowing food. We do come across paralytic patients who need help to feed.
Online Speech Therapy is ideal for patients recovering from paralysis. These patients are unable to travel and need a nurse or an assistant to move around. Such patients can greatly benefit from Speech Therapy at home as it reduces travel inconvenience.
Do I Need To Buy Expensive Software For Teletherapy?
One does not need to buy any software, the Teletherapy software runs through the browser. All you need is the right browser, your Speech Therapist will advise which one you should use depending on the therapy platform. Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer or Firefox are some of the common ones.
Which Equipment Do I Need To Start Teleaudiology For My Child?
One does not need any sophisticated or high tech equipment to start teleaudiology lessons. These days most homes have all the equipment needed. You will need the following equipment.
A Personal Computer
You will need a PC. It can be a Desktop Computer, a laptop or a tablet. Ideally one should prefer a Desktop or a laptop as the larger screen size is advisable. The PC should have a new version of the browser. Please check the minimum operating system requirements with your Speech Therapist.
A webcam or a web camera is necessary. The web camera enables the Therapist to see the person who is undergoing Speech Therapy. This is as good as the Speech Therapist seeing you in person.
Normally a laptop has a built-in webcam, you can go to the settings and activate it. In case you have a desktop, you should buy an external webcam. A webcam sits on top of the monitor, it is flexible and you should rotate it to focus on the person.
You need a good pair of comfortable over the ears headphones. Though most PC’s come with a pair of speakers, it is preferable to have headphones. Do not select the “in the ear” types or earbuds, buy an “over the ears” type. Over the ear, types are comfortable for long sessions.
A good internet connection is necessary. Good internet speed and signal strength offer live streaming without lag or interruption. Please consult the Speech Therapist on the data speed requirements. The speed requirement will depend on the Teletherapy platform used. Approach your internet provider for a higher data speed package if the current speed is low.
What Other Factors Should I Keep In Mind For Teleaudiology?
With the basic technical requirements taken care of, we should look into the following factors as well.
Comfortable Seating Arrangement
A comfortable chair is very important as the session normally lasts about an hour. If the child is not comfortable, he or she will be fidgety and will not concentrate on the session.
The table with the laptop or the monitor should be of the right height. The person undergoing Speech Therapy should have a straight view of the screen. Having to look at the screen from an uncomfortable angle for a long period can result in neck pain.
Location of the Computer
Please ensure that the room window if any should be behind the Computer. If the window is behind the person, the daylight glare will not allow the webcam to capture the persons face. The Speech Therapist at the other end will not get a clear view of the facial features. The same rule applies for bright lights in the room. The lights should light up the persons face and not point at the webcam.
Speech Therapy at home is a win-win situation for the therapist and the patient. Over a period of time more Online Speech Therapy sessions will be preferred. The advantages of Speech Therapy at home are more than regular visits to the clinic.
However, there will be some cases which require a visit to the clinic and are not conducted online.
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