What is telehealth? Telehealth services are virtual services that occur without an in-person clinic visit. Virtual sessions provide opportunities for your child to continue receiving services when barriers come up that prevent them from attending their therapy appointments, such as sickness, difficulty with transportation to the clinic, etc. Rather than coming into the clinic for their therapy session, your child can participate in a telehealth session from home. How can telehealth support my child’s progress toward their therapy goals? Telehealth can support making and maintaining progress toward therapy goals, and can be used as an alternative session format when families are unable to make it into the clinic. While a controlled clinic environment and in-person time with a therapist provides predictability, access to gym equipment, and other means to learning new skills, the end goal of therapy is for children to engage in and participate readily within their natural environment. Telehealth sessions can support progress by: 
  • Allowing for therapist observation of the child in their home environment
      • Children access skills differently across environments, and various environmental factors can influence children’s participation, levels of arousal, etc. Working with children virtually in their natural home environment can allow therapists to make appropriate, personalized recommendations for home carryover of activities and strategies, as well as environmental modifications, to help children’s progress toward their therapeutic goals. 
  • Increasing family member facilitation of and participation in therapeutic activities for improved home carryover
      • Telehealth allows for therapists to provide parent education and coaching throughout a session within a natural environment for the child. This allows family members to implement therapist instructions and feedback to facilitate therapeutic activities for their child, which supports their ability to recreate similar therapeutic activities for their child  independently. 
  • Promoting generalization of skills gained in the clinic 
      • Telehealth sessions allow for children to implement activities in their home environment that are similar to what they are working on in the clinic with  therapist support. This allows for generalization of skills mastered in the controlled clinic environment to the child’s home environment.
  • Using materials at home to support regulation
    • In the clinic setting, we have various equipment and materials to provide regulating and organizing sensory input, such as swings, crashpads, slides, and more. While these tools are a great way to support regulation, most families do not have sensory rooms or similar equipment  in their homes. Telehealth sessions are a great opportunity for your child’s therapist to collaborate with you and your child to determine appropriate activities and strategies your child can engage in at home to facilitate the regulating input their body needs.
What should I expect during telehealth sessions? Some children are able to independently access telehealth sessions, while others require adult support to participate. Your child’s therapist can help you determine what level of adult involvement is needed for your child to get the most out of their telehealth session.  Prior to your telehealth session, your child’s therapist will also communicate with you if they would like you to have any materials prepared. The therapist will guide the child and parent through structured activities as appropriate. Just like in the clinic, at the conclusion of the session, the therapist will allow for some time to debrief and discuss continued opportunities for home carryover of strategies and activities implemented during the session.