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Let's Get Digital, Digital

It used to be that the number 13 was "lucky for some" but this ill-fated number may well have been surpassed by another harbinger of doom and gloom: 2020.

Looking past the negativity (ahem, continental plague, collapse of global travel, etc.), we can take a moment to appreciate the birthing of some wonderful innovations and advancements.

Teletherapy, telehealth, online intervention. However you label it, online health care and education has become a permanent fixture in our lives and it's not going away. Zoom, Skype, Facetime, and other mediums of online, digital communication have paved the way for therapy to be delivered in a new and convenient way meaning families can be seen (almost) anywhere in the world. Let's take a look at how it works.

Teletherapy or telehealth is usually done over a platform involving a video and audio. Typically, the therapist will do a test first to make sure everyone's sound and picture are clear and trouble-shoot any areas that need adjusting. The laptop/tablet should be hands free and set up in a quiet place where the individual won't be disturbed.

If the child is younger or struggles with attention, they may need more help from a caregiver. In this case the therapist makes suggestions and may use a 'parent coaching' model to facilitate therapy.

If the child is older, or indeed an adult - and does not require assistance - the therapist will lead the session and may give spoken or written exercises, depending on the therapy plan and goals.

Some students enjoy teletherapy as they can block out noise with headphones and pay attention more easily. Others find it more comfortable to not have to make eye contact or self-monitor their body language as much as they would be expected to face-to-face.

Although it's true there are some parts that will be lacking, much of a therapist's session can be replicated in the home/school environment with the team work of all adults involved. It's about modifying the approach flexibly and not getting too upset when things go wrong (like the internet cuts out).

The best prep involves considering:

- earphones/headphones

- clear microphone

- device charged fully

- clear lighting/video centred on the child

- minimal distractions / people in the room

- having all materials ready as per therapist recommendation (e.g. printed materials, pen & paper, computer mouse, toys, books, etc.)

It may also help to:

- receive (and test) your Zoom link in advance including checking the password works

- double check your dates and time zones

- do a test run before the actual session

- split longer sessions up into shorter ones

- have your therapist's phone number handy to problem-solve if the connection is lost

- combine teletherapy with face-to-face to get the best of both worlds!

Telepractice won't suit everyone - child and therapist alike! But it's a handy option for people who can't attend face-to-face for any reason.

Mermaid Speech is excited to offer teletherapy to multiple locations - simply enquire today: 0491684551 /


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