Hello fellow Clinicians! I hope this communication finds you in good physical, mental, and emotional health. As we prepare for a “new” way of service delivery these next few weeks, I wanted to take some time to validate, educate and downright congratulate all of you during this monumental transition! It’s been quite a ride getting to this place, but now that we are here, I think it’s important to touch on some key points of teletherapy execution during COVID-19.
First, Let’s Talk About Anxiety!
It’s real…You’re anxious about the state of the world and what this means for your job and for the students you serve. Your nerves are high just thinking about how your well-developed, comprehensive behavior plan that you spend hours each week guiding and implementing like a well-oiled machine will seamlessly transfer across the internet waves to your overwhelmed families trying to keep their own jobs afloat while navigating the overnight task of becoming a special education teacher. You are anxious about how to “be there” without actually BEING there. Maybe you are even nervous about getting sick yourself and the potential impact that missed work will have on your families and you financially.
Here’s where the validation comes into play. It is OK to feel big feelings during this time. There is so much uncertainty and we are all (and I mean ALL) trying to figure this out as we go. Although teletherapy in of itself is not a new practice, it undeniably takes a brand-new shape during a national crisis. Administrators, teachers, therapists, parents, and even government leadership are making new decisions and changes daily based on what they think, and feel are the best plans for the moment. It’s ok to not have every detail sorted out right now. We have to acknowledge that the behavior programs we are used to leading and implementing in the school setting (under even the most challenging of circumstances) are not going to look the same as our socially distanced, mitigated web-based conference calls- and that’s ok! The reality is, things will change tomorrow anyway. Take a breath, allow yourself to let go of all your preconceived expectations, and be as flexible as we teach our students to be! If there was ever a time to “go with the flow,” it’s now!
Now the Fun Part!
Once we accept the challenge of virtual learning and consultation, we must put on our thinking caps and prepare to unleash all of that pent-up creativity we’ve wanted to let fly for so long! If there is a silver lining to this crisis, it’s that we can now spend the time we always wished we had to connect with our parents and guide them to become the amazing interventionists we know they can be. Many of my colleagues and I have spent countless hours brainstorming the best ways of transferring critical skills to parents. We always hypothetically joked that it would be great to be a “fly on the wall” to collect the valuable data we need to guide our decision making and unify plans across all environments. Well, now is our chance!
These next few weeks (or longer) will be a prime time to focus on maintenance and generalization of previously acquired skills, acquisition of new skills, and parent-training through consultation, video modeling, and resource sharing. The families of the children we serve are resilient and know they have to be present, more than ever, during this time. They will be looking for “real life” strategies to manage the challenging behaviors they will encounter during their daily routines and will need our guidance often as we shape them into overnight therapy wizards.
PTS, Inc. has compiled a fantastic library of resources on our website specifically geared towards teletherapy implementation. Below are just some of my favorite examples of ABA resources for your reference!
|Reinforcement||Virtual Token Board
http://www.appyautism.com/en/app/123tokenme/- $10.99 for the app but SO worth it! Can be screen shared during Zoom for interactive feature
|Social/Emotional Learning||Visual schedules and Social Stories
Every Day Speech– Free trial!
|Data Collection||Online Data Collection Links
ABA Teamwork– FREE data collection system for therapists and families
|Therapy Examples, Podcasts and Parent Training||How to Zoom|
|CEU Opportunities and Current Research||Practical Applications- Telehealth and ABA|
Now Time for the Accolades!
You are doing it! And you are all doing it well! You are part of a pioneer crisis plan that will, in my humble option, shape the way we implement behavior analysis in the future. You are seeing the value in daily communication with interdisciplinary team members. You are understanding ethical considerations on a whole new level. You are approaching families with a whole newfound understanding and bucket-loads of empathy. Finally, you are carving out that much-needed time to review new research daily and ensure your standards constantly match “best practice.” You are stretching yourself to new heights and will leave this process as a 2.0 version of your old clinical self! Your hard work and daily struggles do not go unnoticed and we want you to know we see you rising to the occasion and couldn’t be prouder to share this space with you!
As a behavior analyst, I understand first hand the urgency and intensity this situation has created. My hope is that we can take this opportunity to share in the struggle and come together to support our clinical community like never before. Not one single person is an expert at navigating all the variables that have been thrown our way. Communication, resource sharing, and constant collaboration will be essential during these times and If we allow, these less than ideal circumstances have the potential to offer incredible value to our field.
For more resources on teletherapy or clinician support, contact PTS today.