As educators and families adapt to distance learning to help stop the spread of Covid-19, Pine Tree Society quickly evolved to offer speech and assistive technology for learning services via telepractice to support schools and students.  These video-based speech/language therapy sessions allow students to maintain and work on their speech and language goals and help prevent regression.

“We’re providing a service that is as close as possible to what a child would normally receive for therapy intervention,” said Linda Bonnar, director of Speech/Language and Assistive Technology Services at Pine Tree Society. “One of the biggest things I hear is how lonely and sad kids are about not being at school.  By connecting face-to-face via video, in addition to providing continuity of services to help students retain the skills they’ve worked so hard to build, it gives them a feeling of social connectedness and a sense of security that we are going to get through this together.”

“His teachers and therapists are heroes,” said a parent describing her son’s telepractice speech session. “Both my mind and heart are at ease seeing my son adapt to change and his willingness to try something new without being able to understand why this is all happening.”

Maine is a big state and Pine Tree Society has used technology to bridge distances for years.

“Pine Tree Society has the technology and the expertise to help schools meet the very unique needs being presented to us all right now, including schools in rural areas or those that don’t have speech therapists at all,” Linda continued.

Pine Tree Society offers individualized services, including:

  • Ongoing therapeutic intervention
    • Articulation
    • Language development
    • Social language and expectations in a distance learning environment
  • Educational coaching
  • Consults for Assistive Technology for Learning to support children who may have more challenges accessing the curriculum during social isolation

“Sessions are typically one-on-one,” said Linda. “However, we’re working on ways to implement group sessions as well so students can get to see their friends too.”   

Sessions may also incorporate other supports in a child’s life, such as behavioral consultants.  A recent session with a student with significant challenges not only worked, it was outstanding.

“Linda used his preferred interests to design the lesson,” said his behavioral consultant who participated in the session. “He wanted to end a few minutes early, but Linda kept him going and he finished the last activity with a smile on his face.  We are in an unusual time filled with unknowns and anxiety for many, but when you see stuff like this happen it gives hope.”

Telepractice services are provided via Zoom, a HIPAA-compliant, user-friendly video conferencing technology that is easily accessed from any device.  Pine Tree Society adheres to Zoom’s recommendations to ensure a secure web conferencing environment through password protection of online meeting rooms by default, elimination of Meeting ID display, removal of the attendee attention tracking feature and implementation of a join flow procedure for web clients.

To find out how Pine Tree Society’s Speech Language Pathologists can support your school through telepractice speech/language therapy services, please contact Linda Bonnar at lbonnar@pinetreesociety.orgor 207-386-5931.

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