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Nutrition for Kids with Learning Disabilities

Most children will go through a fussy phase with eating. And while this can be a frustrating time for parents, it is very normal and for most children it passes without any long term effects on health or development. In fact, most children will go on to enjoy a wide range of nutritious food. However, for a child with autism, eating can be much more complex.

Nutrition Challenges for kids on the spectrum

It is known that children on the Autism spectrum are far more likely to experience eating difficulties or be what are commonly called ‘selective eaters’. Common eating problems for this group include strong reluctance to try new foods, eating too few foods and rituals or rigid behaviours around eating. Some children are so highly selective; their diet may consist of fewer than 10 foods and may exclude whole food groups.

Sensory Processing Differences

Much of the eating difficulties experienced by children with Autism is thought to be related to sensory processing differences. Physical consistency and texture of food may play an important role. Or the visual appearance, that is they may only accept one colour of food. And for some children, branding, product name and packaging are important too. For example, they may eat the crackers from the green box but not from the red box. 

Managing Selective Eating 

Naturally, managing selective eating within the family context can be very difficult and is often extremely stressful for parents. They may be dealing with frequent meltdowns and mealtimes can become a dreaded part of the day instead of enjoyable family time. Parents are often trying to feed other children whilst still catering for their child with a restricted diet, meaning they are having to prepare several different meals at mealtimes. Family outings, holidays or dining out can be extremely difficult, if not impossible.

To add to this, perhaps friends or extended family don’t understand the challenges. Some parents may even be told by well-meaning professionals, “your child will eat when they are hungry”, which for some children with ASD simply isn’t true. Often all of this is taking place, in the background of the worry and concern about their child’s physical health.

The Role of a Dietitian

Dietitians work collaboratively with families to develop strategies to help support the child’s nutrition and feeding goals. Dietitians can help children with ASD to expand and improve their diets and reduce mealtime stress for parents. Dietetic consultation involves getting a solid understanding of the challenges the child is experiencing. This may include not just a typical day’s eating and preferred foods but routines and behaviours around foods, the physical environment and mealtime dynamics, as well as the health and development of the child. 

Dietitians offer personalised strategies to help to address any nutritional gaps that may exist whilst taking into account the child’s dietary requirements, food preferences, medical needs and growth requirements. Improving a child’s nutritional intake can help with other areas of therapy, as cognitive capacity and energy levels are also optimised. 

Introducing our Therapy Connect Dietitian, Kylie Mustow.

APD, IBCLC.  BSc (Nutr), M(Diet)

Kylie is an Accredited Practising Dietitian with over twelve years’ experience working with both adults and children across a variety of settings. For the past seven years, Kylie has specialised in Paediatrics, after undertaking additional training at Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne.

Kylie has experience providing nutrition support to children of all ages, including young infants. She has worked with children with a range of medical conditions and feeding difficulties including; Autism Spectrum Disorder, developmental delays, neurological and genetic disorders, extreme prematurity, oral aversions and other complex feeding issues, including tube dependency and weaning.

Kylie is a SOS-trained feeding therapist, having completed both the basic and advanced training courses. She has also undertaken additional training in the Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility Approach to Feeding, Food Allergy and Intolerances and has a Diploma of Breastfeeding Management.

Kylie is passionate about infant feeding and has recently become qualified as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). This unique dual qualification, positions Kylie as an expert in infant feeding and nutrition.

As a mother of three, Kylie is familiar with the challenges of feeding a growing family and the stresses that can bring. She is passionate about children’s nutrition, reducing mealtime stress for families and making eating a positive experience.

Therapy Connect provides online therapy services using videoconferencing technology. We provide families and children access to therapy at a location that suits, at a time that suits. “Therapy Anywhere Anytime”

5 Key Therapy Strategies to Support your Distance Ed or Homeschooled Child during learning time.

Kudos to the parents out there who are accessing Distance Education or homeschooling to provide your children with the opportunity to access an education whoever and wherever they are. 

Supporting the learning of your child at home via a Distance Education or Homeschooling program can be challenging. It can be hard to know how to get the learning task mix right, what to include, what to exclude, how to extend your child or how to provide more support.  At Therapy Connect, we have worked with many children who are learning via Homeschooling or Distance Education. We asked our speech and occupational therapists to brainstorm and list the top 5 most successful strategies for supporting a child’s learning.

1) Using special interests to promote engagement

Special interests are highly motivating. Therapists regularly identify what a child’s special interests are and ask themselves “How can I use these interests to meet the goals of this learning task?” They integrate special interests in a range of tasks to promote engagement. For example, if a special interest happens to be unicorns, you could use unicorn bordered writing paper, make a unicorn with play dough for fine motor warm up, colour unicorn pictures together in a language activity, use unicorn manipulatives for math or play unicorn reward games. 

2) Using visuals, routines and structure

Simple tools such as hand drawn icons to tick off after tasks, can be really effective.

If children can be shown what is coming up next rather than relying on lots of verbal information (‘first we’re going to finish our science projects and then we will work on your creative story and if we have time we might look at your maths magic worksheet…’) they will feel less overwhelmed. 

Thinking carefully about your child’s needs, learning goals and preferences can help to guide the sequence of tasks. Our therapists are all very strategic with their activity selection and sequencing of tasks. Using a visual will support the learning routine sequence and may look like;

  • A highly engaging initial task to motivate the learner e.g 5 min drawing charades turn taking on determined topic
  • A more challenging task to work on high priority learning goals e.g 15 min planning a creative writing piece using a scaffold
  • Preferred task or sensory movement break e.g 5 min heavy movement break 
  • A challenging task e.g 15 min writing, language or social skill activity
  • Fun game related to learning goal. 10 min role play
  • Reward task. e.g 5 min game with

Using timers such as www.timetimer are great for reinforcing time passed and time still to go, especially for challenging tasks.  You can then avoid ambiguous language such as ‘in a minute’ or ‘just a sec’. When you need to give children lots of information, reinforce it with a visual. Visuals can help children who have difficulty following verbal instructions and can assist these children to develop their receptive language skills.

3) Adjusting the learning task to your child’s ‘just right’ level.

And while it’s important not to overwhelm a child, they do need to be challenged. What is the ideal challenge?  Therapists describe achieving the ideal level of challenge as the ‘just right” level- not too easy and not too hard. The learner should be stretched enough to notice the challenge but not stretched so far that you might lose them completely with feelings of anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, lowered motivation and task refusal. Sometimes the “just right” challenge level might fluctuate depending on the day. 

The tricks you can use to create the “just right” challenge are to find ways to adjust or scaffold the task to suit their level of performance on the day. Scaffolding may include;

  • Preparing your child for learning. Are their bodies and minds learning ready? Sometimes a quick intense physical activity beforehand can help prepare a body and mind for learning. 
  • Adjusting levels of difficulty of activities. Breaking a task down into its smaller components and achieving the components individually or complete tasks together “your turn to write a word, my turn to write a word”. Another strategy is “backwards chaining”. Here, your child completes the last step of the harder task and experiences the success of full task completion e.g getting them to pull the bow tight on their laces after the first few steps have been completed for them or getting them to write the last three words of a sentence.
  • Using a range of visuals.  Use visual timers “2 more min and then we will move on”….  “Let’s see if we can keep going by ourselves for 8 min”. Use the visual session sequence to show a child what is next. 
  • Adjusting language used. Does your child understand long instructions or require shorter, one at a time instruction? Do they interpret things literally?  Do they have trouble with ambiguous language?  
  • Adjusting the environment: Have you managed the visual and auditory distractions or sensitivities, providing enough movement breaks, checked seating and desk height etc.
  • Build in rewards for motivation e.g a fun game after a challenging task.

So in a nutshell you are flexibly adapting the tasks, the instructions, the duration, the rewards, the environment and sensory inputs to create that “just right challenge”.

4) Sensory Breaks and Sensory Tools as a strategy

Strategic breaks are just as important as strategic routines, tasks, and challenges.  Every child will have a unique sensory profile. 

Therapists talk about achieving a ‘Calm Alert’ state of arousal (ideal state for learning) in a child. We don’t want to be under aroused. We don’t want to be over aroused. 

Some sensory strategies such as “heavy work” (deep pulling and pushing activities) can promote ideal arousal level. These activities can be used to prepare for learning and also ‘during learning’ as sensory motor breaks to help regulate attention and arousal. 

An occupational therapy sensory assessment highlights individual sensory processing differences and then sensory strategies and tools can be individually applied into a learning program to support and extend a child’s participation. Common strategies are increasing the “heavy work” deep pressure/ push pull type tasks during break time. Offering the most intense activities can often act as a reset button. e.g. play dough play, Tug-o-war, trampoline, animal walks, wheel barrow walks etc. 

Therapy Connect has a great free webinar on low cost sensory strategies available on our website.

www.therapyconnect.com.au 

5) Adapting and using the environment

Setting up the learning environment is important to the overall success. A therapist may want to de clutter the work space to minimise visual and tactile distractions placing only the tasks working on at the table. They will think about a child’s sensory needs eg. lights (too bright), noise (too loud), and ensure sensitivities and preferences are met. They will ensure there are enough movement opportunities both at a desk and away from the desk. A child’s seated posture in the chair at the desk is important for ensuring optimal upper limb and hand function. Therapists will determine if the child’s feet are supported and the chair and desk are the right height for writing and computer tasks. 

Trouble Shooting Ideas: 

My Child has great difficulty concentrating what can I try?

  • Try visual schedules with child ticking off, use of visual supports such as timers, activity sequence. 
  • Prepare beforehand with specific sensory tasks and heavy work activities for optimal “calm alert” arousal
  • De clutter the environment and remove known distractors. Consider desk placement away from e.g. windows
  • Manage any sensory sensitivities (lighting, background noise etc)
  • Integrate special interests, build in rewards after short durations, add sensory breaks

My child refuses to compete tasks. What can I try? 

Try to understand what the refusal is communicating and aim to address? (overwhelmed, bored, overloaded, too hard etc)

  • Ensure task success with reinforcement
  • Are more scaffolds needed to find the “just right” challenge
  • Break task down in to shorter components
  • Increase use of rewards
  • Try backwards chaining approach
  • Reward effort not success
  • Use time as the task goal (X minutes then break or more preferred task)

As we said…. Kudos to the parents out here who are committed to providing the opportunity to access an education whoever and wherever they are by Distance Education of Homeschooling. 

Therapy Connect provides online therapy services using videoconferencing technology. We provide families and children access to therapy at a location that suits, at a time that suits. “Therapy Anywhere Anytime”

Getting the most out of reading with your child

How we read to our children is just as important as how frequently we read to them.  Sharing picture and touch books, opens a world of opportunity to engage with your child and there are also foundational language skills that come from this time together.  Reading the same animal book 5 or more times a day seems overly repetitive for us but let’s show you why it’s important and how to make the most of it.

#1 Keep it interesting

While children love reading the same book over and over because it is familiar and safe for them you can keep it interesting by asking different questions and referring to different things each time.  If you are looking at a baby animal book, on one occasion talk about the sounds they make, next time their size, and then other context concepts like where they live another time. Picture books provide children with many skills including exposure to vocabulary, sound structure, the meaning of print, sustained attention and the pleasure of learning.

As your child grows and they begin to know the story well, you can encourage them to use their knowledge.  Begin by letting them say the last word in the rhyming books; “The cat sat on the _____ (mat)”. Instead of telling them the cat says meow, ask them what sound the cat makes and then ask them to recall something about the story, “What did the cat sit on?”.

#2 Get them involved

Children learn most from books when they are actively involved. Everything from asking them to choose the book to making the sounds or actions are great ways to keep the time together fun and help them make connections.

Encourage them to hold the book, turn the page and point to things. Praise them for engaging and being involved as these positive reinforcements will build their confidence around books for their future.

#3 Encourage your child to talk about the book.  

If you were reading a book about different types of transport, when you next go out for a drive talk about what you see and reference the book you read.  These connections between the real world and books strengthens their conversational and narrative skills. A child may say “We saw a red fire truck today, it was loud.” Start asking open ended questions; “Where do you think the fire truck was going?”

#4 Evolve as they evolve

As children get older you can still go back and visit their favourite books by evolving how you interact with it.  If there are illustrations, relate them to something your child knows or an experience they’ve had. Asking them to describe the characters or situation increases their understanding of social skills and body language. Talking about the characters and their dilemmas helps children understand relationships and is an excellent way for you to get to know each other or discuss difficult issues. Ask them what will happen next, how a character might be feeling or how the book makes them feel.

Encouraging children to think about what will happen next supports them in comprehending consequences and thinking through how a sequence of events may unfold.

#5 Keep it light

Don’t push children to engage, keep it fun. If your child is engaged because you are making them laugh and they don’t want to join you in making the funny noises, that’s ok, they are still engaged. Most importantly give your child plenty of time to respond.  Children with language delay may take longer to respond to questions or context based connections. It’s important to be patient and allow them to answer.

For assistance with identifying what your child needs to help aid their learning, why not book in a free consultation.

www.therapyconnect.com.au

Low Budget Sensory tools for the home and school environments

Children have different sensory needs that can impact their degree of participation in daily activities and learning tasks. Some children experience more intense sensory avoiding responses, meaning that when their environments are too sensory stimulating they may withdraw or become overwhelmed. Other children have more intense sensory seeking responses and you may see them moving more, humming and touching things.

Selecting the right sensory tool and activities can serve as a powerful management strategy to support a child with sensory processing differences to learn or complete tasks.

What are sensory based strategies used for?

Children that experience sensory processing differences, may require certain sensory activities and tools to support them in the home and school learning environments. Sensory tools and activities, designed for individual child’s sensory needs, can support a child to have increased participation, engagement and attention. Sensory tools can assist a child to regulate the big feelings they have in their bodies, helping them to focus longer, connect with others and be in a “just right” state for learning and working.

Sensory based strategies are used for children requiring either;

– extra input from their environment or

– decreased sensory input from their environment.

Some sensory tools are designed to increase movement opportunities, maximise tactile input or provide deep heavy pushing and pulling movements during a break time. Other sensory tools are designed to block or minimise the sensations, for example noise or lighting.

By using sensory tools and strategies that are unique to the child’s sensory processing pattern, you are supporting them to get their sensory needs met. You can teach the child ways to recognise when to use a sensory tool, and for how long.  For example, a weighted lap blanket can calm a child that needs deep pressure input. A wiggle cushion can provide the child that is in constant need of moving to stay on their seat and finish a fine motor task.

The use of sensory tools, such as fidget spinners, wiggle cushions and weighted products are becoming more commonplace in the classroom. It is therefore important to ensure the items are effective for the child using it. An Occupational Therapist helps to identify a child’s sensory preferences, and which sensory tool is likely to be the most effective. The Occupational Therapist does this by completing an individual sensory assessment of the child’s unique sensory processing pattern. The OT is also responsible for ongoing review of the child’s needs.

Creating low-budget alternatives to expensive equipment.

There is a lot of ‘professional’ equipment on the market, but with the right guidance from an OT, you can actually use low-budget items from around the home to DIY your own sensory ideas and tools.  

For example, you can get creative with a scooter board to work on our child’s proprioceptive and vestibular systems.  These items can be purchased at a cost via www.sensorytools.net  or www.thetherapystore.com.au, or you can make your own by buying some wheels and board from the local hardware store at much less expense.  Click here for some ideas.

Or you could create the lycra swing available from online sites including  https://www.heavenlyhammocks.com.au or you can use a piece of lycra from your local material shop, to make a body sock or lycra tunnel for proprioceptive and vestibular input, connecting to an area low to the ground, under a table or bed, such as this one https://yourkidstable.com/cool-down-spot/.

Before purchasing equipment, we always recommend trialling the equipment first. If that isn’t possible we look to these low budget items meet the child’s needs. For example, does a child need to purchase a sensory play gym or will a therapy ball and blanket from the couch provide the input the child needs?

FREE Webinar

We are excited to announce that Margie Berrigan, a Therapy Connect Occupational Therapist will be presenting a FREE Webinar on “Making simple low cost sensory tools for home and school to support your child’s sensory needs” on Tuesday 2nd April, 2019 at 8pm AEST.

The webinar will cover:

> A broad understanding of what sensory tools can offer.

> Up to date evidence on the benefits of sensory based strategies.

> The importance of ongoing support from an OT when using sensory

tools with your child.

> How simple, low-budget and DIY sensory ideas can meet the needs of

your child, sometimes in place of the more expensive items.

> How you can create your own tools at a lower price, sometimes

with equipment in your own home.

> Links, demonstrations and instructions for making your own equipment.

> How to prioritize the costlier sensory equipment, and the pros and cons

of common equipment pieces.

There will be a recording available for those that cannot attend.  Please ensure you still register.

Click here for more information and to register.

Therapy Connect provides online therapy services using videoconferencing technology. We provide families and children access to therapy at a location that suits, at a time that suits. “Therapy Anywhere Anytime”

Tools to help support your child to learn at home

There are many benefits that come with homeschooling but when you have a child with learning difficulties the simple things can quickly become more difficult. That’s why Speech and Occupational Therapists play a vital part in plan management. It is important that constant and clear liaison with health professionals and educational staff occurs and that ideas, suggestions and activities they provide are incorporated into an education plan.

Our experienced therapists provide you with fun based activities and games using visual supports such as signs, pictures and gestures to aid your child’s comprehension.  We also advise on the best types of activities to help your child along in their learning journey. Common strategies our therapists include into an educational program include:

  1. Adaptive Tools

Using adaptive tools such as special pencils, adapted scissors, pencil grips, writing paper or slant boards may be beneficial to support posture, fine manipulations to facilitate cutting and handwriting skills. An occupational therapist can assess your child’s need for these adaptions and assist you locate the best resources to support your child’s need.  Skillbuilders will have a great range of adapted tools. https://www.skillbuilders.com.au/

  1. Use of Timers

Using timers can assist by providing a visual cue for a set task duration. Your child can see how much longer they have to work on a task represented visually. There are many different styles of timers to select from and your therapist can guide your choice. Embedding rewarding activities into the routine after hard work is completed can increase motivation. We love the time timer range. https://www.timetimer.com/

  1. Use of motor breaks

After a period of desk top work has been completed a motor break may be necessary to prepare your child for the next period of work. The best motor breaks involve matching your child’s sensory needs with targeted sensory activities. Engaging your child in fun, deep heavy work (push and pull actions) for a few minutes can act as a reset button and will be recommended by any therapist.  

  1. Weaving special interests into tasks.

Finding ways to engage your child into less preferred tasks can be enhanced if you can find ways to embed their special interests. No matter what your child loves there will be a way to incorporate their interest into a learning activity. For example, a child’s special interests happen to be cogs and engines. You can find cog bordered paper, write about engine topics, research engine topics and experiment with engine manipulatives, use engine components to solve maths challenges.

  1. Finding the “just right” challenge

Finding the “just right challenge” for your child is exactly what your therapist is trying to achieve in every session, all session long! It is important to meet your child where they are, then push them just enough but keep it fun while stretching them as they can tolerate the new challenge. Your child should feel confident with the tasks they participate in and be able to build new learnings from where there are at.

How do you discover the “just right challenge”? Start with a task, then modify (add more or take away some part of the challenge) to reach that happy medium between too easy, which can lead to “I’m bored”, or “I’m so good at this I don’t need to try,” or too difficult, which can lead to defeat- “I can’t do this” or “this is too hard for me, I give up”.  You make little changes over the course of several attempts at a target activity. Your therapist can coach you on strategies to adapt tasks to increase or decrease the challenge.

Here at Therapy Connect we are dedicated to providing online therapy services using videoconferencing technology perfect for homeschooling situations. We provide families and children access to therapy at a location and time that suits. Our services are perfect for families who live remotely or find it difficult to travel. Check out our website and see how we can help you and your family today → https://therapyconnect.com.au/

The Therapy Connect Story – Providing Access to Therapy Across Australia

Therapy Connect is a unique service in that they provide speech and OT supports to clients and families living all over Australia and even into Asia, all online via telepractice. They have a current team of 8 therapists. Their therapy team also live all over Australia.

They never meet their clients face to face. (unless on holiday!)

Telepractice, is “real-time delivery of assessment or therapy services by an allied health professional who links with a service user (parent, person with disability, education support worker, etc) by web based videoconference.”

 

Why did Therapy Connect start in telepractice?

How do they deliver therapy online?

Why do families keep coming back to Therapy Connect?

 

Why did Therapy Connect start?

Sue and Simone actually live on farms in regional areas in different states in Australia. They were introduced by a rural and remote allied health network due to their mutual interest in telepractice.  They both drove very long distances (hours) to provide speech and occupational therapy services in clinics. They knew that in rural and remote Australia families had a lack of choice of service providers and that people were waiting months and months for speech and occupational therapy services in regional and remote Australia.

The online world was changing the lives of families in rural and remote Australia. You could buy products and services online. Sue and Simone with the lived experience of isolation, believed that if they could work out how to deliver effective therapy supports online via telepractice, then TELEPRACTICE would have the potential to extend the reach of services and enable a family like theirs to have regular access to supports they need.

So…. They set about reviewing evidence and trialling approaches. The emerging evidence consistently suggested that telepractice; appeared to be as effective as face-to-face services, and was highly acceptable to consumers.

Having only met in person 3 times, but regularly via videoconference, Sue and Simone agreed that they were so aligned in their practice approach and thinking that they joined forces and in August 2015 Therapy Connect was formed.

 

How does Therapy Connect deliver therapy online?

Sue and Simone consider there are two main differences to delivering a telepractice service compared to a face to face service.

Families require support in the “setting up phase” – To connect online, conceptualise how it will work, determine who would be working, where they would be working and how it all looks. etc.

Secondly, they needed to figure out how to adapt their sessions and resources to support an online delivery.

A session plan is developed in advance. All parties know the session activities and resources to prepare or gather in advance. For example, we might need materials printed, laminated, scissors, cardboard etc ready. They may select from a family’s or school’s collection of toys, books, board games etc. They may assist a family to gather specific resources. They may use digital games or Apps that can be screen shared in real time together.

 

Why do families keep coming back to Therapy Connect?

Therapy Connect partnered in some research with The University of Sydney to look more closely at their model, achievement of therapy goals, parent satisfaction, process of sessions and families’ perceptions of accessing therapy online.

They found that families were enthusiastic about accessing therapy by telepractice because it provided them with regular and consistent access to therapists with expertise in disability.

Therapists, teachers and parents said there were NO issues in engaging children in telepractice sessions. In some instances, parents reported increased engagement with telepractice sessions than face to face sessions. This was a great surprise.

Families liked that therapy was occurring in environments that are familiar and natural to their children. They could have access to therapy from their home or school.

Families were highly satisfied that their children achieved functional outcomes across a range of goal areas and across contexts home and school while working with Therapy Connect.

The available evidence now suggests that accessing quality therapy by telepractice can support a person-centred approach consistent with contemporary disability practice.

Sue and Simone consider Telepractice is a legitimate choice for disability services. Telepractice has to potential to equalise access for those that can’t find services.

Telepractice is here to stay and Therapy Connect is a growing business!

 

www.therapyconnect.com.au

Speech Pathology Australia interviews Sue Cameron at Therapy Connect about telepractice.

 

Meet Eden. Her diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy means she has difficulty moving her tongue and has difficulty communicating verbally. How does a speech pathologist from a different state assist her?

Our Top 10 RESOURCES for providing online Speech Therapy

 

  1. Webber Hear Builder

HearBuilder is an interactive online language program that can be accessed on a computer or tablet. It has four types of activities; Following Directions, Phonological Awareness, Auditory Memory and Sequencing.

An annual ‘Specialist’ subscription allows me to track the progress of 20 students and to set the levels of difficulty at an instructional level for each student.

Students can logon using a computer or the free apps for each activity can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play. The program is cumulative so as the child masters skills at one level they automatically progress to the next level.

HearBuilder was developed by Super Duper Publications.

  1. HelpKidzLearn

HelpKidzLearn is a collection of software for young children and those with learning difficulties to play online. The software is split into five sections: Early Years, Games and Quizzes, Stories and Songs, Creative Play and Find Out About.

I purchase an annual subscription to HelpKidzLearn and use its motivational games and songs using screen sharing to help engage with children online.

  1. eLr Extra Language Resources

 

eLr is a comprehensive collection of speech, language and literacy resources that are presented on-screen . The therapist purchases a subscription and allocates suitable activities for clients. The activities can be used during therapy sessions by screen sharing or families can complete activities on their computer or tablet for home practice. The graphics are a bit dated but children enjoy the on-screen format and motivating games.

 

  1. Zoom videoconferencing program

I choose to use Zoom because:

It is easy for clients to join a meeting. They just need to click on a link we send by email.

The screen sharing function is great. You can share the desktop, a whiteboard and iPad and iPhone apps. You can share your computer’s audio which is important when you are sharing a program that has sound. You can give remote control of your screen to your client.

It is free for 1:1 meetings or for the first 40 minutes of a group meeting. I chose to buy Zoom Pro so I can access reports about my meetings, particularly the duration of meetings. I can also host group meetings without any time limits.

Sessions can be recorded (with permission of course!)

  1. Ookla Speed Test

Ookla Speed Test is a quick and reliable way to trouble shoot internet connection problems. When videoconference quality is a problem, both parties can do a speed test to determine whether the internet speed is adequate to support videoconferencing. Sometimes internet speed can be increased by moving to another room or moving closer to the router. At the least, you can see which end of the conference is having difficulty.

WARNING: Don’t be tricked into clicking on any advertising on the speed test page!

  1. BIRRR

Better Internet for Rural, Regional and Remote Australia is a group of volunteers aiming to help country Australians sought out their internet issues. They have a website with information and links and an active Facebook page with quick responses to your questions about internet connectivity (or otherwise!) BIRRR are wonderful advocates who are trying to address the great ‘data divide’ between metropolitan and rural internet users.

  1. Small whiteboard and marker.

A whiteboard is useful to write the session’s activities on and then cross them off as completed. It can be used for barrier games, to demonstrate what you would like a helper to draw on a page and, in the worst case scenario, to give written instructions about how to turn on the computer audio!

 

  1. ABC Kids and PBS Kids

The ABC KIDS website is designed to appeal primarily to pre-school children. It provides a gateway to online content relating to ABC KIDS TV programming, as well as providing games and activities that will appeal to this age group.

PBS Kids is the brand for most of the children’s programming aired by the Public Broadcasting Service in the United States. It has educational games and videos from Curious George, Wild Kratts and other PBS KIDS shows.

  1. EPIC! Books

Epic! is an e-library with over 20,000 books for children 12 and under. The library includes a large selection of fiction and non-fiction titles which can be read together online or the child can choose a ‘Read-to-me’ book which is read aloud. It can be difficult to demonstrate how to read books together online unless you each have a hard copy of the same book at either end of the videoconference. I can demonstrate how to use books for language modelling and comprehension and then give feedback to the helper to develop their skills.

  1. TWINKL

 

Twinkl is an online educational publisher. After purchasing a subscription you can download lots of activities suitable for children of all ages. Twinkl publishes lesson plans, power point presentations, resource packs, worksheets, interactive activities and teaching ideas. I regularly download activities to use in my language, articulation and phonological awareness therapy programs.

 

About Therapy Connect

Therapy Connect is a therapy service offering high quality teletherapy supports online using videoconferencing.  “We offer a coordinated team approach meaning that families can access Therapy Anywhere Anytime”.

Therapy Connect is owned and operated by Sue Cameron and Simone Dudley.

Sue Cameron is a Certified Practicing Speech Pathologist with more than 25 years experience working in health and education. Simone is an Occupational Therapist with over 20 years clinical experience working in paediatrics across both the public and private sectors in rural & regional NSW. Together they are passionate about ensuring regional and remote families have access to high quality services.

Contact Therapy Connect to find out how we might be able to help you.

 

Clients talk about working with Therapy Connect

Listen to Therapy Connect Clients discuss their experiences with accessing speech and occupational therapy online via videoconference.

FAQs How Does Online Speech and Occupational Therapy Work?


How does online therapy work?Danny

Online therapy uses videoconferencing technology to deliver therapy services over the internet wherever you may be; at home, school, preschool or childcare.

Online is just like face-to-face speech therapy but instead of sitting across the table from the therapist you will be viewing each other across the internet on your computer screens. Therapists are working in real time with children and families or helpers using established best practices. We work to link therapy strategies into daily routines at home, childcare, kinder and school.

Therapy Connect can schedule appointments at a time that suits.

 

What technology is required?

All you need is a computer or tablet with a camera, microphone and an internet connection. If you don’t have the internet or your connection is too slow, we will try to find an internet facility in your community that you can use. Our therapists will help you connect to the browser based videoconferencing platform used. There is no software to install or download.

 

What Resources do we use?

Activities are determined according to the child’s individual needs and may be digital (presented on the screen) or hands on. Activities can be mailed or emailed before your session. Parents may be asked to gather up materials, toys, books or other items ready for a therapy session. We may suggest storing them in a box ready for therapy sessions.

We may use a variety of digital resources such as turn taking games, stories, interactive activities where we screen share so both the child and therapist are working together. These activities are selected to build up specific skills relating to therapy goals.

 

Who does Therapy Connect work with?

Therapy Connect therapists are highly experienced in working with children aged 0-12 years and their families.

Children we work with may experience difficulties with; language and communication, sensory processing, attention and concentration, fine motor and handwriting, daily routines such as toileting and managing mealtimes, behaviour and social skills.

We work with families, carers and educators to link strategies into daily routines in order to achieve therapy goals.

Our focus is always on coaching the people in the child’s life who will have the most opportunity to practise strategies in real life environments. The parent or helper needs to be present during the therapy session just as they would in a clinic based session.

 

Where does Therapy Connect work?

We work in the child’s natural settings so that therapy strategies can be linked in to typical routines. Sessions are usually conducted with children in their homes, schools, preschools, kinder or community centre.

 

Does the evidence support online services?

There is evidence that clinical outcomes and client satisfaction with online therapy are equivalent to conventional face-to-face therapy.

Speech pathology evidence is that online therapy offers equivalent outcomes compared with traditional speech therapy. There is emerging evidence showing positive support for online occupational therapy.

Therapy Connect is partnering with the University of Sydney to conduct research on the acceptability and effectiveness of online therapy for children with disabilities. We aim to contribute to the body of evidence that supports telepractice as an industry.

 

What are the benefits of online therapy?

Online therapy offers increased frequency and access with no need for travel. This means that families can set the dosage of therapy they require. (weekly, fortnightly or monthly etc.). For many families who find it difficult to locate face to face therapy we can offer the significant benefit of increased access and frequency of service.

Sessions are easy to schedule and set up. Online therapy is engaging for children. Sessions are enjoyable and children look forward to therapy.

 

About Therapy Connect

Therapy Connect is a therapy service offering high quality teletherapy supports online using videoconferencing.  “We offer a coordinated team approach meaning that families can access Therapy Anywhere Anytime”.

Therapy Connect is owned and operated by Simone Dudley and Sue Cameron. Simone is an Occupational Therapist with over 20 years clinical experience working in paediatrics across both the public and private sectors in rural & regional NSW.

Sue Cameron is a Certified Practicing Speech Pathologist with more than 25 years experience working in health and education. Together they are passionate about ensuring country people have access to high quality services.

Contact Therapy Connect to find out how we might be able to help you.