Serve Your Students Using School-Based Teletherapy

Odds are employees in your special education program never trained for this drill.

Like educators all over the country, you and your staff are scrambling to do things you’ve never even considered. You’ve had little lead time to get ready—just, “Go!” Turn on the webcams and hope parents don’t mind fussy toddlers or the odd rear-facing cat on a lap disrupting their kids’ Zoom lessons.

If your related services providers are struggling to find enough “distraction-free” hours in the day to meet their free and appropriate public education FAPE obligations, let Pediatric Therapeutic Services (PTS) fill the gap with school-based teletherapy.

Our therapists and behavioral health staff are ready right now to remotely offer:

  • Direct Services to Students
    This means providing both one-on-one and small group services, so school closings don’t bring kids’ progress to a screeching halt.
  • Consultations
    Our consultations include sessions with teachers, administrators, and students’ families to plan the most effective and efficient interventions possible.
  • Participation in IEP Meetings
    This service enables teams to keep evaluating students’ advancement and setting new goals for them.
  • Progress Notes 
    Progress notes help document how your program continues to meet students’ demonstrated educational needs (while also keeping it legally compliant.)
  • Strategies for Teachers and Parents 
    Our strategic approach equips teachers and parents to deliver “therapy without the therapist” during these challenging days.

School-based teletherapy from PTS is your ready-to-go solution for getting students the services and support they depend upon for educational success.

Why Teletherapy Makes Sense in Special Education Today

At first glance, social distancing and sheltering in place might seem like high hurdles for a special education program to clear. And, without question, the current public health crisis makes providing related services more challenging. 

Fortunately, school-based teletherapy (also called telepractice) has been gaining ground for years.

Male elementary student sits at table to write as female occupational therapist on laptop instructs via school-based teletherapy.Why? Three factors have driven the shift:

  • More U.S. students are receiving special education.
  • Fewer qualified and quality special education teachers and related service providers are available.
  • Internet-based communications power and pervasiveness are escalating.

Teletherapy can also overcome such obstacles as long distances between schools, the social stigma still often attached to pull-out therapy, and tight budgets without funds to hire more practitioners.

Some challenges to teletherapy’s wider adoption remain. Sometimes, licensure requirements raise issues where sessions take place across state lines. And the persistent “digital divide” between more and less affluent schools means some students don’t have adequate broadband internet access or equipment.

Increasingly, however, therapists and students are making new face-to-face connections and realizing effective outcomes.

What Clinicians Can Accomplish in Teletherapy Sessions

School-based teletherapy is not about passively watching a therapist on a screen. Real therapy happens, in real time, as interactive and customized as it would be in the school building.

When therapists connect with kids via fast and secure video conferencing solutions, they can keep making significant strides toward students’ IEP goals.

Consider just a few examples:

  • Occupational Therapy
    OTs can guide students through activities requiring only common household items and students’ own toys. They can demonstrate strength-building exercises like planking and lead sensory-rich experiences like playing with modeling clay. They can build movement breaks into the sessions (time to take a crab walk!)
  • Speech Language Pathology
    SLPs can demonstrate how to form students’ targeted sounds and words. They can closely watch and listen to how accurately students perform. The therapist can hold flash cards up to the webcam and can read ebooks with students to work on fluency.
  • Physical Therapy
    PTs can observe students doing exercises like “Superman” or the “Bear Crawl.” They can lead yoga and dance workouts. They can enlist family members to help in setting up strengthening activities, such as having the child carry a bag weighted with groceries into the kitchen.

Enlist PTS to Supply Your School-Based Teletherapy Needs

For more than two decades, PTS has adopted technology that enhances and maximizes related services. We already have a complete teletherapy protocol in place. We’re currently implementing it for districts and schools who’ve initiated online learning.

Our teletherapy protocol includes:

  • Letters to parents clearly explaining what teletherapy is and how it works.
  • Step-by-step instructions for participating in interactive teletherapy sessions.
  • Innovative and effective treatment ideas grounded in best practices.
  • Strategies for virtual IEP meetings that are efficient and productive. 

If you’re exploring options for delivering therapy services to your students during this challenging time, the more than 400 professional pediatric clinicians on our team stand ready to collaborate with yours.

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