Jenny doesn’t like the telepractice session…

What do you do when Jenny just doesn’t want to come to the telepractice session? As far as she is concerned, there is absolutely nothing wrong with her pronunciation. Jenny’s parents forced her to come to see you by threatening to curtail her computer privileges. Naturally, she sees the entire situation as some sort of punishment.

Contrast this with another scenario. Jenny bounces into the room excited, sits down in front of the computer and begins pronouncing the words before the therapist is even ready to start. She just can’t get enough of enunciating the sounds that have been giving her trouble. And when the clinician offers her a short break, Jenny declines. Instead she just wants to continue to practice.

Is this the same kid? How was she transformed in a matter of weeks from being pulled into therapy kicking and screaming into the child that just can’t get enough of it?  Consider implementing any of these three suggestions to transform the teletherapy session into something you barely recognize!

1.  Record the child and then instruct him to listen to himself

The inability to hear what we sound like isn’t limited to children engaged in online therapy sessions. In fact, by trying this simple experiment- recording yourself during a conversation, you may be surprised by what you hear. Did you really say that?  So why not record the child and in so doing provide him a more “objective” assessment of his problem – the recording itself.

Aside from the objectivity of the recording, the child hearing his or her voice may be just the motivation needed to commit to substantive change. Make it into a game – record whatever the child wants. When playing it back in the following telepractice session, gently point out the areas that require improvement, and get to work!

2.   Create a book with the child to promote self-discovery

It has been shown that a creative tool for children learning is self-discovery.  Instead of being told by someone else what is wrong, the realization is entirely owned by the child. A proven method to facilitate this is to ask leading questions that will enable the child to see for himself that something needs to be changed. These queries can be the basis for the child’s book about himself – a “This is Me” book that you can create together in Microsoft PowerPoint.

Each question becomes its own slide that can be enhanced by pictures from any number of free picture websites such as Pixabay.  Once the book is completed, you can print out each slide individually and then staple them together to form your book.  Make the questions personal and targeted so that the child learns about himself and his speech weaknesses in the process.

3. Plot the child’s progress in a graph

A simple way for the child to maintain awareness as to how much progress she is enjoying in the remote therapy sessions is to “graph it.” Plot the progress of each session and see how the child becomes delighted by visually experiencing his progress.  Outline the bars and let Jenny color them in.  You will notice an uptick in motivation as the progress become more “measurable.”

While a bit more ambitious, it is often helpful to integrate the child’s goals into the graph as well.  It is critical to remember that when it comes to goals, they must be attainable in small segments of time. Wouldn’t you love it if the child consistently reached those modest goals and you needed to keep creating new ones?

Akin to the graph is deciding together those rewards for realizing goals in the teletherapy sessions. As an adult, you certainly understand that improved speech should be its own goal, but let’s face it, for a kid that just isn’t so motivating.  Shall it be something yummy to eat, a “credit” to skip a telepractice session, or some new toy he has been dreaming about?