speech therapy sessions

How Long Should My Child Attend Speech Therapy?

This question could be one of the most important ones that you ask when bringing your child to begin receiving speech therapy.

If you ask your SLP this question and you receive anything resembling a definite answer, then perhaps you need to keep looking for an SLP to deliver the speech therapy. How could anyone know?

But several questions may help you to make an educated guess. They are:

  1. What is the nature of your child’s speech deficit?

  2. How severe is your child’s problem?

  3. Does your child have any other behavioral or learning challenges that could impact the speech problem?

  4. How experienced and competent is your therapist?

  5. To what degree are you as the parent willing to get involved?

 

The answer to these particular questions will yield a composite that will give you a better handle on the speech therapy process to which you are submitting your child. The duration of the therapy isn’t only a matter of time and money. Your child’s staying power, as well as yours, becomes an increasingly important factor over time.

 

When you maximize the success of speech therapy for your child, you stand a better chance of helping to maintain your child’s motivation. If the process seems endless to the child, there is a very real danger of burnout. It’s quite simple; maximizing understanding will increase the odds of reaping optimal results. Isn’t this what it is all about?

 

1. What is the nature of your child’s speech deficit?

First, you need to be clear about the primary speech or language problem that your child is experiencing. Is she having trouble producing her words clearly? Is she finding it difficult to process language? Or is your little girl finding it difficult to express her thoughts or feelings clearly? Is there a stuttering problem or some other challenge with fluency?

 

Each of the challenges will involve a goal-oriented therapeutic approach. However, different therapists will approach it differently. There are various schools of thought. Another factor to consider is whether or not the objective is to eliminate the speech deficit or to make a significant improvement short of absolute elimination.

 

When working with a language processing problem, one therapist may be teaching strategies to improve the issue while another will be heading for a cure. The goal of the therapy will have a significant bearing on its length, so parents should consider this when determining their expectations.

 

2. How severe is your child’s problem?

At first glance, it would seem to be a no-brainer that the more severe the problem, the longer the therapy should take. However, many experienced therapists have seen otherwise. They have seen kids with more severe issues achieve the desired results in less time, due to a commitment to do the work and stay at it.

 

And it could work the other way as well. Sometimes the problem will be relatively mild, and the therapy just isn’t proceeding as planned. While there are no guarantees, it is generally safe to assume that there will be a direct correlation between the severity of the problem and the duration of the therapy.

 

Get your free copy of our groundbreaking ebook: Teletherapy Diminishes Client Engagement: Debunking The Myths

3. Does your child have any other behavioral or learning challenges that could impact the speech problem?

When you have a particular concern related to your child’s development, you should refer your child for a full evaluation. There may be more than just that specific problem playing a role. For example, a speech-language deficit may warrant learning, neuropsychological development, and behavior evaluations as well.

 

If it turns out that there are other issues, it would be prudent to inform your SLP. Sharing this information is about more than just raising awareness. Armed with this vital information, the SLP can craft a more effective treatment plan when taking into account these other challenges as well. If indeed there are other problems such as behavioral, learning, or attention, you can expect the child to be in therapy longer.

 

4. How experienced and competent is your therapist?

When choosing an SLP, rest assured that, as long as the therapist is certified by ASHA (the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association), and licensed in your state, the clinician is competent. But you still need to vet out the specific therapist you have chosen, especially if your child has a more severe problem.

 

You would be wise to find out whether or not the clinician you have chosen has extensive clinical experience in your child’s deficit area. While you don’t necessarily need to work with an expert, you do want to ensure that your SLP knows what she is doing. After all, this is your precious child! Understandably, the more competent the therapist, the more likely you will see the desired results in less time.

 

5. To what degree are you as the parent willing to get involved?

There is a general rule that is helpful to know. It goes something like this: “the earlier on and the more involved the parents become in their child’s therapy, the quicker the therapy will progress.”

 

It will usually take at least a couple of weeks for the SLP to establish a working rapport with your child and develop a routine. After that point, the therapist should inform you of the high-priority goals and give you direction as to how you can be helpful and reinforce those advancements that are made in the sessions.

 

A rule of thumb is that you should be implementing the exercises the SLP has assigned, by sitting down with your child and employing these strategies two to three times per week, or whatever is agreed upon by the parent and the child. In addition, it’s essential to assist your therapist in finding out what motivates your child. Clarifying this will help your child to remain engaged in the process.

 

Bottom Line

So, after all is said and done, it is quite difficult to predict with any certainty how long your child’s speech therapy will take. A 2002 study concluded that meaningful gains in speech clarity take approximately 14 hours of therapy, on average.

 

This estimate is only for speech clarity and not applicable to gains in expressive language or fluency. Still, after several sessions, you should see progress. The better you understand the factors mentioned above, the better handle you will have on managing your expectations of how long your child’s speech therapy will take.

what is teletherapy

What is Teletherapy? (A Helpful and Definitive Guide)

What is Teletherapy?

Teletherapy is the online delivery of speech, occupational, and mental health therapy services via high-resolution, live video conferencing. Teletherapy sessions are very similar to traditional speech, occupational therapy, or mental health sessions with one major exception. Instead of sitting in the same room, students and therapists interact via live video conferencing.

During therapy sessions, the student and therapist can see, hear, and interact with one another in real time, using webcams, headsets, and a live, synchronous online learning environment.

If you’ve ever used Skype on your computer or FaceTime on your iPhone, you’ve used a similar type of technology.

The actual therapy is the same as the therapist would deliver face-to-face, only teletherapy is done with a computer! Licensed therapists use traditional therapy techniques and activities and enhance those techniques through innovative software and tools and have the technology literally at their fingertips to plan and deliver high-quality services.

What Can Teletherapy Provide?

Teletherapy can deliver speech-language, occupational, and mental health therapies. Regarding speech-language therapy, it is most common to find language and articulation delivered via teletherapy. However, this is not due to the effectiveness of the therapy, but rather to reimbursement limitations.

Why is Teletherapy Necessary?

therapist shortageApproximately 5% of America’s school-age population - 3.5 million children - require speech, occupational, or mental health therapy. While the need is growing annually, there is an increasing shortage of therapists to meet that demand.

As reported by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics: "there is a considerable national shortage of SLPs projected over the next five years. An additional 28,800 SLPs will be needed to fill the demand between 2010 and 2020–a 23% increase in job openings."

Further exacerbating the problem, the geographical distribution of these therapists is unequal, which means that there is a worsening shortage, particularly in rural areas. This makes it difficult for schools to provide adequate services for many of their children who desperately need services.

What is the Impact of the Therapist Shortage?

The growing SLP shortage means higher caseloads for district therapists which results in inferior therapy sessions for the children, leads to SLP burnout on an unprecedented scale, causes unexpected recruiting and turnover expenses, and students making slower—or no—progress against their IEP goals.

Recruiting and retaining staff serving students with disabilities is particularly difficult in rural areas. Salaries are not competitive, and rural areas are far from urban cultural centers and universities, which restrict teachers from participating in training and development programs that would enhance them professionally.

Attrition of speech therapists in rural districts can be two to three times the national average. Turnover is especially acute among professionals who travel long distances from site to site, on an itinerant basis, to serve students with disabilities. Many teachers reportedly resigned because of the isolation of their social and cultural lives.

Also, finding replacement therapists is no picnic for school administrators. The higher recruitment fees charged by staffing agencies to find “distant and elusive” SLPs, and the tragic reality is this: there is less money available to provide the children with the services they need.

The shortage has inflated the cost of therapy and put a heavy burden on already overstretched school budgets and personnel who must spend inordinate amounts of time and energy searching for and managing scarce therapists. Often, rural school districts cannot afford to have their therapists.

Why is Teletherapy the Optimal Solution?

Teletherapy is an innovative, cost-effective solution that offers maximum flexibility by overcoming barriers of distance, unavailability of specialists, and impaired mobility.

While onsite contractors control the timing and may lock schools into rigid schedules, the network of therapists and the online delivery model allows for therapy to be provided when it’s convenient for the school and the students; even if that’s before or after school hours.

By extending top-quality clinical services to remote, rural, and underserved populations, teletherapy holds the key to significantly reducing therapist shortages, guaranteeing children needed services, and alleviating severely strained school budgets. As a result, school administrators and SpEd directors can be free to focus on other critical educational priorities.

teletherapy for allWho is Benefiting From Teletherapy?

Schools:

  • Flexibility: Teletherapy affords schools previously unprecedented flexibility and access to top-notch therapists, as they are no longer limited to locally-based clinicians, but can draw from an extensive nationwide network of highly qualified, certified therapists.
  • Cuts Costs: Teletherapy has exceptional value and is affordable. While some say that teletherapy is more expensive than traditional onsite therapy due to the added costs incurred by equipment, paraprofessionals, and technology, the truth is quite the opposite. Except for the cost of the computer; teletherapy saves money because:
    • The price of a therapist is generally the same whether the therapy is delivered onsite or via teletherapy.
    • Traveling expenses are eliminated.
    • Traditional staffing agencies charge a premium fee to find a therapist who will travel, which does not apply to teletherapy.
  • Effectiveness: Schools have better access to specialists as well as culturally and linguistically diverse therapists as well as therapists with specialties, allowing for more targeted and effective outcomes.
  • Freedom: School districts no longer have to recruit, screen, and manage therapists, pay transportation expenses, or worry about interruptions in therapy when clinicians are absent, leave, or no longer with the district. Services remain uninterrupted, freeing up staff time for other educational priorities.
  • Peace of Mind: Teletherapy relieves schools of other administrative headaches and expenses as well by streamlining scheduling, easing tracking and reporting, simplifying, auditing, and organizing accurate and instantly retrievable records through the digital services provided. This ability to access critical information instantly - all in real time - increases parent satisfaction and minimizes the risk of compliance issues.

Therapists:

  • Independence: Teletherapy is a dream come true for therapists. It allows therapists to be their boss, enjoy flexible hours, and eliminates travel.
  • Comfort: Teletherapists can serve children nationwide, work either part-time or full-time, and grow their career within the comfort of their own homes.
  • Productivity: Teletherapy promotes productivity by managing caseloads and workloads more efficiently and spending more time working with kids and less time in the car.
  • Materials: Teletherapists have access to the ever-expanding array of creative, engaging, and motivating material available both on websites and apps. The possibilities seem to be genuinely endless! There is no way for any clinician to stay abreast of the accelerating rate of invention.

Families

  • Engagement: By utilizing fun and engaging digital technology, teletherapy is exceptionally kid-friendly. Today’s children are comfortable with computers and love game-based activities such as video interactions and digital learning. In this rapidly developing technological world of ours, the digital dimensions of online therapy have become very natural and almost expected.
  • Consistency: Students benefit as well; since the attrition rate of therapists is often directly related to distance and travel time, eliminating travel results in a marked rise in that therapist’s consistency.
  • Relaxed: For shy and more reserved children, teletherapy is less intimidating the traditional face-to-face therapy.
  • Parental Monitoring: Teletherapy provides the capacity to remotely log in and observe the session in real time allowing parents or members of the child’s “team” to see his or her progress.
  • No More Babysitter: Online sessions conducted at home or in school eliminate the need to ever travel to another session and worry about babysitting for the other children.

onsite therapy sessions

Is Teletherapy as Effective as Onsite Therapy?

There is a myth circulating in therapy circles that teletherapy is of inferior quality to traditional face-to-face therapy. This is patently false.

Since therapists are ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) certifed, there is no compromise in the quality of the therapist.

Get your free copy of our groundbreaking ebook: Teletherapy Diminishes Client Engagement: Debunking The Myths

Regarding the online mode of delivery, teletherapy has been used successfully since the late 1990s for hundreds of thousands of therapy sessions across the United States. It is and has been considered an effective and appropriate therapeutic delivery mode based on 20 years of research by over 40 academic published studies.

The first was the landmark paper by the Mayo Clinic in 1997 which stated, "Telemedicine (teletherapy) evaluations can be reliable, beneficial, and acceptable to patients with a variety of acquired speech and language disorders, both in rural settings and within large multidisciplinary medical settings."

Also, ASHA gave its endorsement in 2005: “Based on the strong body of peer-reviewed research supporting telepractice ... ASHA recognizes telepractice (teletherapy) as a valid means of service delivery for audiologists and speech-language pathologists.”

Worth noting, the effectiveness of telepractice (teletherapy) was corroborated by a 2011 study by Kent State University researchers comparing students receiving traditional in-person therapy and those receiving telepractice in public school settings. They found that the outcomes for the telepractice group were equal or better than the in-person group.

Why is Global Teletherapy Your Best Option?


Global Teletherapy has formed an extensive team of highly qualified speech and language pathologists, occupational therapists, and mental health clinicians who deliver top-quality teletherapy in 27 states.

Over the past few years, Global Teletherapy has played a pivotal role in helping children, regardless of geographic location, who otherwise would have no access to SLPs, OTs, or counselors get the therapy they need to be successful.

Global Teletherapy Offers Many Benefits:

Schools:

  1. Global Teletherapy therapists are professionally certified (e.g., ASHA for SLPs) and are seasoned with a minimum of two years of professional experience. Also, they have been trained in teletherapy techniques before providing services.
  2. Global Teletherapy handles recruitment and management of clinicians and ensures that they are appropriately licensed and credentialed in the school district’s state.
  3. Global Teletherapy assures that therapists are available when needed and handles session scheduling. The school district provides an onsite paraprofessional to facilitate logistics during therapy sessions.
  4. Global Teletherapy ensures that sessions are extremely secure and in compliance with HIPAA, FERPA, and COPPA guidelines. Sessions are conducted using a trusted technology used by millions of users worldwide with 24/7 support to ensure the success of every therapy session.
  5. Global Teletherapy can practically guarantee school administrators fewer headaches from dealing with therapist attrition and the consequential need to fill vacancies. They also streamline scheduling, ease tracking and reporting, and simplify auditing and compliance.

Therapists:

  1. Global Teletherapy provides professional training on how to deliver services via teletherapy.
  2. Global Teletherapy supplies a trove of materials for their therapists. They have an extensive library of resources and activities to which therapists are given access. These resources and activities can be utilized as is or modified to meet specific student needs.
  3. Global Teletherapy shows the therapist how to gain access to great additional resources free of charge.
  4. Occupational Therapists are provided a complimentary OT Toolkit which has many items that can be used in the therapy session, such as play dough, theraputty, adaptive paper, etc.
  5. Global Teletherapy has created venues for therapists to communicate and interact with each other. These venues provide an invaluable opportunity to share problems, brainstorm solutions and grow professionally.
  6. Global Teletherapy has both part-time and full-time opportunities available and will guide therapists in obtaining licensure in other states.

Families:

  1. Global Teletherapy ensures that each child will work with a top-notch therapist. They meticulously screen every clinician with a comprehensive interview and an exhaustive review of clinical experience, licenses, and qualifications.
  2. Upon acceptance, the therapist is trained in teletherapy technology, and each therapist’s subsequent performance is closely monitored. Global Teletherapy ensures that every therapist is licensed and has all the necessary credentials for your state or region.
  3. Global Teletherapy promotes consistency.  Although teletherapy’s flexible nature makes it possible for a child to have more than one therapist every child is assigned to a particular clinician, who assumes responsibility for that child’s therapy.
  4. This arrangement promotes continuity and a trusting and consistent relationship between the online therapist, child, parents, and teacher. If the child needs a new therapist for any reason, Global Teletherapy will ease the transition with minimal disruption to the child’s therapy.
  5. Global Teletherapy provides supervision. An onsite paraprofessional (or a parent/learning coach for virtual school students) supervises and handles any hands-on requirements, especially for younger students. Some older students may not require supervision, depending on the policy of the school.
  6. Once the session has begun, the children are interacting with the therapist online, and the paraprofessional, while remaining on hand to assist if necessary, can do other work. A single paraprofessional can supervise several students participating in separate, simultaneous sessions or one session together.

what is telepractice

Common Questions We Get From Therapists

1 - What is the Technical Setup for Teletherapy?

Unfortunately, there is a myth that teletherapy is technically complicated. Nothing could be further from the truth. While the technology is quite powerful, setup and using that technology is quite simple and straightforward!

At Global Teletherapy, our representatives walk new therapists through the process, and a Global Teletherapy tech will always be there to provide any necessary support.

Technical requirements on the part of the therapist are only a computer with an Internet connection, a webcam, and an audio headset. If needed, Global Teletherapy can provide a specified number of webcams and headsets at no extra charge.

2 - Since the Delivery is Online, is Privacy a Concern?

The confidentiality and privacy of all student data and secure information is protected as our system is secure and encrypted per HIPAA and FERPA regulations and COPPA compliant.

3 - How Much Experience Does a Therapist Need Beforehand?

As long as you have experiencing delivering therapy onsite for those diagnoses that you will be providing online, you should be fine. Your therapeutic experience is necessary because teletherapy doesn’t alter the techniques and treatment approaches that are appropriate but rather is their adaption to the online venue.

4 - What Settings Utilize Teletherapy?

Teletherapy could be delivered in practically any setting that onsite therapy is provided such as in the home, in a hospital, in a clinic, etc., However, at the moment the only environment in which teletherapy is widespread is in the schools.

5 - Does Insurance Cover Teletherapy?

Neither major insurances nor Medicare currently reimburses for teletherapy services. That being said, substantial efforts are being made at both the local and federal level to change this.

6 - Is Teletherapy for Everyone?

While study after study demonstrates the effectiveness of this excellent alternative, nevertheless some students will still benefit more from traditional on-site therapy. For example, online therapy is not the preferred option for students with minimal attention skills or alertness. In some instances, a “hybrid” option (combining on-site with online therapy) may be optimal.

7 - How Do Therapists Communicate With Teachers and Parents?

The therapist initially makes contact with parents and teachers at the beginning of the year and provides their contact information. They email the teacher monthly–at a minimum–to discuss targets, progress, and needs in the classroom/curriculum.

The online therapist will communicate with parents in the same way an onsite therapist would. Homework, as well as notes, are “sent-home” through a virtual backpack. Clinicians deliver IEP progress reports and participate in IEP meetings via video conference.

8 - Can I Practice Teletherapy With My Regular Clinical Position?

Yes!  One of the many advantages of teletherapy is its flexibility. You can do teletherapy part-time if you like. And if you get hooked, full-time positions are available as well. Whenever it works for you, don’t forget that you will be working from the comfort of your home!

Time to Take the Next Step

School administrators, schedule your free demo.

Therapists, apply today to join our team.

new year for teletherapy

A New School Year for Teletherapy: 6 Ways to Make This Year Different

It’s that time again. Another summer is coming to a close and another school year about to begin; the freshness, the hope, the promise that this year your teletherapy sessions will somehow be different. With those frustrations from last year melted away in the hot summer sun, you are now ready to perform teletherapy like never before. So get ready to jump in and do it!

Not so fast. Returning to performing teletherapy sessions for kids in school after the long summer break can be both hectic and stressful for clinicians. While the summer has been refreshing and offered a sense of renewal, the excitement of re-entry can quickly fade into disappointment unless you keep some critical thoughts in mind.

Veteran clinicians performing therapy have a pretty good idea of what to expect and plan to make only minor tweaks. However, even those experienced therapists would be wise to keep the following tips in mind. These will be helpful as they prepare to put their best foot forward and strive to make the transition into the new year both effective and painless.

1. Reflecting on Past Experiences

Face it; the ultimate learning tool is your experience, both positive and negative. Clinicians who have been at it for a while say that they learned more in the first few months of delivering teletherapy than they did during their training program. Reflecting upon these experiences can prove to be an invaluable tool.

One of the critical ingredients of great therapists is that they are forever looking for new methodologies and techniques to improve their teletherapy sessions. Living in this growth mode is another benefit of experience, as seasoned clinicians have learned to be unafraid of experimenting and trying something new.

2. This is a Brand New Year

Before you begin, abandon the preconception that this year’s teletherapy will be like last year’s. Every child and every session deserves to be given a clean slate. While you may have the file on this particular student and be aware of strengths and weaknesses, this should in no way prejudice the therapy you deliver nor your opinion of the child.

A clinician should refrain from passing judgment on a student until she has given enough sessions to get a good feel as to what this student is all about. Perhaps the previous therapist had a personality conflict with this child, which colored the notes written in this kid’s file. Since you don’t know, don’t assume; give the kid a fair chance.

3. Set Goals for Everyone

At the core of creating every IEP is establishing goals for each student. Aside from goal-setting for the children, the SLP needs to set goals for herself as well. Every therapist needs to do some introspection before the school year begins and set personal goals to improve in areas of weakness, wherever they may be found.

These personal goals provide direction for the therapist and can help keep the momentum in those “down” moments. Don’t feel that the goals you set at the beginning of the year are carved in stone.  They can be modified as the year progresses as “facts on the ground” bring about unexpected changes.

Get your free copy of our groundbreaking ebook: Teletherapy Diminishes Client Engagement: Debunking The Myths

4. Come to that First Session Prepared

As every experienced therapist knows, the most critical aspect of delivering therapy is to be thoroughly prepared beforehand. Those looking in from the outside think the therapy session is only about the hour with the child, and that’s it. Nothing could be further from the truth. Delivering great teletherapy takes lots of time and preparation.

You need to get things off on the right foot and be entirely prepared for that first session. You need to impress your students that the session will be packed with opportunities to grow and improve. What’s more, complete preparation for that first session will give your student a sense of security that the therapist is in full control and knows what she’s doing.

A smooth year of therapy begins with a commitment to preparation. The therapist who procrastinates until the final moment is setting herself up for one rough year. While a new therapist will undoubtedly need more preparation than a veteran, every therapist needs ample time to prepare and review if the objective is to have a fantastic year.

5. You Need to Set the Tone

As in so many areas of life, what happens at the very beginning can be of great import. And the school year is no different. Those first few days and weeks of therapy will probably set the tone for the entire school year. Not only will the child get a sense of what to expect from the therapy, but respect for the therapist may be won or lost as well.

Because of this, the wise therapist must seize that narrow window of opportunity to impress upon her new students what the sessions will be like, and develop a strong rapport that will carry throughout the year. Not every child will necessarily like you. Sometimes the personalities don’t jive. But every child should respect you and recognize that you are there to help.

You may need to be a bit tougher at the beginning, employing more discipline to establish a proper working relationship. Afterward, you can begin to ease up. But if you start the other way, you may never set yourself up in the appropriate role, leading to devastating consequences for therapy sessions throughout the year.

6. Make Contact with Parents

When you deliver therapy to children, it isn’t only the children with whom you need to interact. Getting the parents to trust you is imperative for long term success with the child. The parent must understand beyond a shadow of a doubt that paramount to every other concern is your interest in the child being as successful as possible.

This may require you to go the extra mile by contacting the parents a few times within the first weeks of the school year.  While perhaps unnecessary from the standpoint of protocol, this effort in contacting and communicating with parents will gain you an invaluable ally that will have unforeseen benefits as you move forward.

autism teletherapy

Teletherapy for the Autistic Child Must Include These 3 Principles

Some say that if you have met one child with autism, then you have met only one child with autism. That is because every child who is on the spectrum has an entirely different diagnosis and therefore has a unique set of needs and strengths. Consequently, it's impossible to design a uniform teletherapy plan for the autistic child.

 

At the same time, there are three fundamental principles that can serve as a general framework and guide an effective treatment plan for the autistic child to whom you are delivering teletherapy.

 

1. Establish Communication That Is Spontaneous and Functional

You must deal with first things first. Your initial goal in the teletherapy session with an autistic child is to assure that her communication is both functional and spontaneous. In other words, the child must have the capacity to communicate her basic needs and desires to those surrounding her independently, without being prompted regularly.

 

AAC

Sometimes the child's speech is so dysfunctional that introducing some form of augmentative-alternative communication (AAC) is necessary until a more organic method can be found. And even here, you need to be flexible as different forms of AAC work more effectively for different children. Some of the options available are:

 

  1. Voice-Output AAC Device: When the child hits a switch or pushes a button, the device delivers an auditory message. These devices are often straightforward, easy to use, and quite effective in allowing the child to communicate.

  2. Picture Communication System: For some children, communicating through pictures or object exchange is more concrete, and are therefore the methods of choice. Another phase in the system is introducing a simple communication board and teaching the child to point to the picture that conveys what she wants. A next can be incorporating the board into a voice-output device as mentioned above.

  3. Sign Language: For some autistic children, sign language has proven to be very useful. Using their body to communicate the message has another significant benefit as well. It has been shown that many of these children become verbal quicker than they would have without sign language.

 

The Importance of Helping Children become Spontaneous

Many autistic children suffer from the deficit of being unable to speak spontaneously. They won't initiate dialogue, even in expressing their own needs, but will merely respond to another's initiation.

 

This being the case, it is imperative to gradually fade cues that prompt the child to speak, and thereby cultivate the child's facility to speak independently. There are many ways to fade cues for the child. And it is often the synthesis of the particular child's challenges and the SLP's creativity that will yield the most effective approach.

 

Another approach that has been effective for some therapists is first to teach the autistic child basic requests for those things that will be the most motivating to the child. And then gradually move on to more abstract interactions such as greeting, or commenting. Sometimes just opening that verbal door will lead to unexpected results!

 

2. Weave Social Communications into Daily Life

 

Get your free copy of our groundbreaking ebook: Teletherapy Diminishes Client Engagement: Debunking The Myths

Once the autistic child's communication has become both functional and spontaneous, it is time to move on to the social realm. In this area as well, autistic children require direct instruction; if for no other reason, but the fact that understanding someone else’s behavior is difficult for autistic children.

 

What most children pick up naturally in their social interactions beginning in playgroups or daycare, and continuing into Elementary School, doesn't often happen for autistic children. These children demonstrate poor understanding of how to behave or act appropriately in social situations. This deficit if not resolved will invariably carry beyond the social dimension of school and negatively impact learning.

 

Socially Acceptable Behaviors Require Direct Instruction

It is imperative to explicitly teach autistic children what is both appropriate and inappropriate in various social environments. This goes beyond instructing the child as to what can and what cannot be said, but includes how the child should listen and react to others as well.

 

Regarding younger children, the focus will be on necessary skills such as listening when the teacher is speaking, following directions and answering the teacher's questions. As the children become older, the lessons will focus on communicating with a friend and participating in group conversations.

 

Social instruction strategies that have proven effective for autistic children include:

  1. Visual Supports: Strategically planting visual reminders in the classroom to assist the child in remembering expectations for different situations.

  2. Social Stories by Carol Gray: Reading stories that will teach the child what behavior is expected in various situations.

  3. Video Modeling: Showing the child videos that demonstrate expected behaviors.

 

3. Peer Interactions Need to be Targeted

While teaching autistic children the basics of social communication is necessary, it is in no way sufficient. Think about it, just learning what to say on the one hand will help the autistic child to be appropriate. On the other hand, it may leave the conversation with a peer stilted and lifeless. Much more needs to be done to help these children have healthy social interactions and relationships.

 

The more subtle art of communication can be taught to autistic children. However, it is critical to remember that the skills to impart must be developmentally appropriate.

 

Peer Interaction Skills for Younger Children

  1. Play skills: Young children need to graduate from parallel play and be taught how to play with others, taking turns and getting along without fighting.

  2. Responding to Name: Show these children how to react when someone says their name.

  3. Developing Attention Skills: Help autistic children to become tuned in to other children's reactions and feelings.

 

Peer Interaction Skills for Older Children

  1. Targeting Conversational: Observe the autistic child's conversations to determine which social skills are lacking in regular dialogues and interactions with other kids and adults. Focus on these specific skills in the session.

  2. Learning How to See Other Perspectives: An autistic child is often “trapped” inside his world. Consequently, the notion that there is such a thing as another's perspective is entirely beyond his grasp. Therefore the concept of another perspective needs to be introduced and explained, so the autistic child begins to realize that there is an "other."