Changing realities in education stemming from budget cuts and a growing population has led to innovative new outreach programs, including expanded online school opportunities and home school support. For the parents of students with speech and language issues, virtual school may seem, at first glance, to present a challenge. Fortunately, technology offers a solution. Telespeech programs designed for virtual schools and home-schooled students can offer the same quality care given to schools with in-house SLPs. Numerous studies indicate that telespeech is as effective as in-person therapy.
Home schooling has changed considerably in the last decade. Instead of unguided studies with mom and dad around the kitchen table, most families opt for an online solution with virtual classrooms, where children can learn a standard curriculum at their own pace. The advantages to online learning are numerous for some students. Children are no longer limited to the scope of their parents’ understanding or subject to the rigors of public schools they may be emotionally unprepared to handle, and parents have a low-to-no cost alternative to private school.
Telespeech makes virtual schooling even more appealing for students with disabilities who can attend sessions at home and use technology, like touchscreen tablet computers, to communicate and enhance their lesson plans. Touchscreen computers and age-appropriate apps designed for children with speech and language disabilities, autism, and other issues make therapy fun and inviting for students of any age.
For parents, telespeech provides the answer to common barriers to treatment. The most common reasons parents cite for skipping treatment are the cost of hiring an SLP to come to the child’s home and distance to the nearest SLP facility. By bringing distance-based therapy home, they eliminate the need to pack up their homeschooler and other children, drive to the nearest population center, and then spend time in a waiting area with children.
For SLPs, the benefits from delivering therapy via telespeech include working from home or from an office without the need for travel, scheduling appointments at times convenient for students, parents, and therapists. An SLP can choose to arrange her schedule to accommodate her own family, work preferred days of the week, and take time off for vacations, special events, or for no reason at all. And since telespeech is as portable as an iPad, SLPs on the go can fit in patients even while on an extended vacation – from almost anywhere in the world!
Online therapy services have gained wide acceptance in the education community and is in use by virtual school systems as well as traditional and charter schools across the country. Telespeech offers a cost-effective, convenient solution for virtual and home-schooled students and their families who might otherwise have no viable options for treatment and a great opportunity for speech language pathologists to enjoy the advantages of working from home.