There is immense pressure on teachers to meet the needs of children with Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN). At the same time, support services in the NHS are becoming more and more scarce.
NHS speech and language therapists are doing their absolute best, I know they are…until October last year, I was one of them. I certainly didn’t go to University for four years to print off a stack of Black Sheep Press, come in once a term and tell you to get on with it.
No, of course not. NHS therapists are stressed and often have caseloads that are unmanageable – they are desperate to meet the needs of children but don’t have the resources to provide the level of intervention that is needed.
So, what’s the answer?
Well, some forward thinking schools such as Ivy Bank in Macclesfield and Haworth School in Bradford are beginning to adopt teletherapy as a way of meeting pupil’s speech and language therapy needs. Teletherapy has been effectively used in Australia and the U.S for years and seems to be finally making its way over to our shores.
But what is it?
Teletherapy or Telehealth as it is described by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists as the remote delivery of professional health services via the use of telecommunications technology – take a look at this video to see how it works.
In short, it means that If your school has an internet connection, pupils now access to unbridled audio and video interactions in real time with speech and language therapists, it allows an array of speech, and language services to be provided remotely.
Ok, but does it really work?
There is a growing body of research into the clinical effectiveness of teletherapy. I have been writing the new telehealth guidelines for the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists and have collated some of the main research for you here:
Research shows “Diagnoses and assessment performed remotely is equivalent to those conducted in traditional face-to-face settings” (ASHA 2015). Validity and reliability has been established for the use of telehealth in a number of screening and formal language, oromotor, articulation and literacy assessments 1. it has also been successfully used by multidisciplinary teams to assess young children with multiple disabilities 2.
The use of telehealth in speech and language therapy with school-aged children has been reported, with a randomised controlled trial providing evidence for the provision of speech sound treatment 3. and other speech and language interventions 4.
Remote training has also been studied extensively, with parents and teaching staff supporting children with Autism feeding and swallowing difficulties and communication impairments 5 Research shows gains obtained were maintained for longer and even exceeded in effectiveness by using a treatment model that used telehealth. In addition, parents reported that they perceived telehealth sessions to be as valuable as those delivered directly by a therapist.
Anecdotally, teachers have reported that they love the convenience of accessing teletherapy sessions with a real speech therapist; having measurable baseline data and the comprehensive outcome tracking. If you would like to try teletherapy in your school contact me 0800 024 86 46
For full reference list contact firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ciccia, Whitford, Krumm, & McNeal, 2011; Crutchley, Dudley, & Campbell, 2010; Eriks-Brophy, Quittenbaum, Anderson, & Nelson, 2008; Fairweather, Parkin, & Rozsa, 2004; Waite, Cahill, Theodoros, Busuttin, & Russell, 2006; Waite, Theodoros, Russell, & Cahill, 2010a, 2010b, 2012)
- Pearl et al., 2014
- GroganJohnson, Schmidt, Schenker, Alvares, Rowan, & Taylor, 201
- Gabel, GroganJohnson, Alvares, Bechstein, & Taylor, 2013; Grogan-Johnson, Alvares, Rowan, & Creaghead, 2010; Grogan-Johnson, et al., 2011
- Baharav & Reiser 2010, Suess et al 2014, Kobak et al 2011, Vismara 2013