Don’t Let Distance Set You Apart from Your Therapy

Updated: Jul 5

Alexander Graham Bell made a milestone in human history when he was awarded the U.S. Patent of Telephone in 1876. The invention of communication tools brought people nearer although they are in different geographical locations. There is a grandmother who stayed in Kuala Pilah who video-called her grandson in Iceland to celebrate his birthday, and a couple in Kota Kinabalu who could share their delightful news that they are expecting a new baby with other family members all across in Kangar and Kuching; current technology in communication has helped them to share their current news in real-time.


The number of Speech Therapists/ Speech-Language Therapists/ Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) in Malaysia is so limited that the ratio of SLP is 1 SLP to 100,000 citizens (Chu, Khoong, Mohamad Ismail, Altaher, & A. Razak, 2019). Besides, as SLPs are covering a wide scope for communication, SLPs with highly specialised skills: as in, Hanen Certified, LSLS Cert AVT, PROMPT trained, LSVT LOUD, might not be in the area where the service is needed. Thus, tele-practice can be a good way to access these specialised services.


However, as the service delivery through tele-practice is relatively new in the industry, parents might be a bit wary about the change in the mode of delivery. The following are some information about tele-practice:


Tele-practice (Receiving Speech Therapy Service through Technology)


Tele-practice, Tele-rehab or Tele-therapy is a rehabilitation service that is delivered through the help of technology. Provider and receiver could be separated by geographical location, but still be effectively receiving the needed knowledge. As communication skills cannot be built in a one-hour session per week, continuing home programme at home is essentially important. By having tele-practice, you will be able to try out the home programme with close guidance from your Speech Therapist/ Speech-Language Pathologist.


Please remember that children learn best from people whom they love the most, which is you.

Parents who had been using tele-practice repeatedly reported that, this mode of service had saved them travelling time, hustle to set up the child and also money (from petrol and parking fee). Their child is able to abide better in the session as they are comfortable and not as tired as after a long journey to the centre. Besides, parents felt that they are more equipped with the skills and find it easier to transfer the knowledge into daily life. A significant number of researches had shown that the quality of therapy provided online is as of face-to-face therapy.


What can parents/care takers expect from a tele-practice session?


General Preparation

Minimally, a device for video call (you might need back up devices), good internet connection, good audio system and video camera that can capture the area for activity.



Assessment & Goal-setting

Firstly, the SLP in-charge would have to carry out an assessment to determine the current level of your child’s communication skills. This would be the baseline for the SLP to work on. Your SLP might give you a checklist of skills for you to tick on, sending you materials to execute an assessment, or just switch on your video camera and do some free play with your child.


Then, the SLP would give feedback on your child’s current level and what are the general goals to work on. This is so that your goals for your child will be met realistically. Please feel free to ask your SLP if you have any doubts.


Therapy

Before each session, your SLP would brief you on the goals and activities for the session. They might give you written goals or brief you verbally on the session. Remember, you are the main player of this game and your SLP is your coach.