“Awesome.”  “Hitting it out of the park.”  “Superior.”

Those are some of the ways parents have described their child’s experience with Pine Tree Society’s Speech Language Pathologists remote speech/language therapy telepractice sessions.

These one-on-one video speech/language therapy sessions allow children to maintain and work on their speech and language goals and help prevent regression.

“During this time of physical distancing, Pine Tree Society’s remote speech/language therapy sessions bring much needed consistency to the child and their family,” said Linda Bonnar, director of Communication Pathways at Pine Tree Society. “We strive to provide a service that is as close as possible to what a child would normally receive for therapy intervention.”

It’s important for parents to know that they are not alone.  Pine Tree Society staff is available every step of the way to coach, answer questions and help parents through the process.

“We work hard to make sessions fun and engaging,” Linda said. “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, it gives them a feeling of social connectedness and a sense of security that we are going to get through this together.”

Telepractice speech/language services are offered via Zoom, a user-friendly video conferencing technology that is easily accessed from any device.

“I tell parents that it’s not hard at all to connect with Zoom,” Linda continued. “Zoom is a really family friendly platform and we’re here to help right from the get-go if parents get stuck.”

Here’s what a speech/language therapy telepractice session might look like:

1.The therapist begins the session with a schedule, either in text or in pictures, presented on the screen.

2.Next, there is a check in about how the child is feeling, which is sometimes accompanied with a hello song.

“If they’re not feeling so great, we talk about that,” Linda added.  “We use every moment as a teaching moment.  Everything has a purpose and is as interactive as we can make it.”

3.After the check-in, the therapist and child engage in a variety of customized activities that may include reading a book, taking a virtual trip to somewhere special (e.g. zoo, aquarium, etc.), playing a game, or using video tools for other interactive speech and language development tasks.

4.Each session generally ends with a social closing, which may include a goodbye song.

“In every session, we follow a similar routine so it’s consistent and both the child and the family knows what to expect.  Everyone participating is guided when it’s their turn in the activity,” Linda concluded.  “We’re respectful of the fact that we’re virtually coming into people’s homes and do everything we can to adapt to what the family needs and feels comfortable with.”

Sessions sometimes include other supports in a child’s life, such as behavioral consultants.

“I received an email this morning from a behavioral consultant saying, ‘I don’t know who to be prouder of, the child or the parent,’” Linda said.  “The child we were working with has significant challenges and we weren’t sure how telepractice was going to work. Not only did it work, it was outstanding and both the child and the parent felt really successful because it was a team approach and we were all in it together.  The mother said ‘Now I really feel like I’m in the know.  I can see what he’s working on and take part in the process.’ That was a good feeling.”

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

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