A Novel Approach to Maximizing Teletherapy
If your child is receiving teletherapy, you might sometimes feel as though you are up against an impenetrable wall of resistance. Although your child has been evaluated and you have selected an excellent clinician to deliver the teletherapy, there still may be dimensions of your child’s disorder that remain unknown.
Alternatively, your kid may be facing frustration outside of the teletherapy session when she is doing her homework. While as an adult you can easily focus on the bigger picture- transforming communication skills, for your child it seems like a lot of hard work, that is both exhausting and monotonous, not to mention feeling awkward among friends.
Perhaps it is time to take a step back and take a long hard look at the teletherapy goals and how the child’s clinical team is approaching them. While it may seem a bit strange, this may provide the opportunity to implement the traditional business model- S.M.A.R.T. to make the teletherapy easier and bring the goals more within reach.
While the well-known adage, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” may seem cute, there is a lot of truth in it. Well-known businesses have demonstrated that the S.M.A.R.T. goal planning model ensures that the planning is for success. And S.M.A.R.T. has already been adopted by many special education teachers and SLPs as well.
What are S.M.A.R.T Teletherapy Goals?
S stands for Specific
You need to work closely with your child’s SLP to develop specific speech therapy goals. When the goals remain too general such as “improving articulation” your child will may be quickly become overwhelmed, and consequently, her efforts will be undermined. As a rule, the more specific, the greater the success.
You need to ask questions like what is to be accomplished, when will this be done (how many times a week), where will it occur (during the teletherapy session or at home) and how (will any extra tools be needed and provided)? Remember, be as specific as possible to rein in the child’s imagination and thereby reduce any unwarranted anxiety.
M stands for Measurable
It isn’t enough for the goal to be specific. You must seek out measurable ways for these teletherapy goals to be implemented. Attempt to quantify things wherever possible. The child will complete three worksheets and play two vocabulary sheets or need to attend four appointments in the month. Numbers make the goals concrete.
A stands for Achievable
There are many variables in any teletherapy. The difficulty of the particular speech disorder may vary as does the child’s intelligence, abilities, and maturity. Every goal needs to be evaluated with these and other considerations in mind. While perhaps laudable, there is absolutely no point in setting goals that aren’t achievable.
R stands for Realistic
As a result of making goals achievable, they must be realistic as well. In other words, the particular steps necessary to achieve the goal must be logical and closely enough related to each other as to ease the process. While “baby steps” may seem like selling the child short, alternatively a string of success will build confidence.
T stands for Timely
Once you have achievable goals and a realistic framework to achieve them, it is time to establish time-oriented markers for their completion. As we all know, time is specific, measurable and tangible. Examples may include:
Review speech therapy flashcards for 10 minutes 3 days a week
Work on the “r” sound 15 minutes 3 times this week
Read out loud with a parent or sibling 5 minutes every day
A fringe benefit of teaching your child to S.M.A.R.T. goals is that you are bestowing upon your child a lifelong gift. Once the child incorporates and tastes success, S.M.A.R.T. applications can be found in approaching other challenges in life as well, building upon teletherapy for a lifetime success and accomplishment.