Catherine has taken occupational, speech or physical therapy since she was 3 months old. Therapy sessions have helped her blossom and overcome many challenges. With the onset of COVID-19, safe practices and social distancing supported the need to shift to virtual therapy sessions. Over the past few months, many of you have asked about Catherine’s virtual therapy and how they may differ from the in person sessions.
We’ve asked one of her long time occupational therapist, Leslie Steed, at Children’s Health, to give virtual therapy tips to help you transition:
Parents play a significant role.
Virtual does not mean that you as a parent do not have a role. The parents’ role is greater for virtual than in-person session. In many cases, you are the therapist’s hands to facilitate your child under the direction of the therapist.
Prepare before each session
Therapists look to help in routine activities around the house. It is important to have the correct paper, writing utensils, proper ingredients for snack prep, coins for counting money, etc. to support activities for sessions. We often send worksheets, tools or videos ahead of time to use in the therapy session.
Assess technology to ensure proper set up
Ensure the computer is in the proper place and is adjustable for therapists to watch specific skills. The therapist may need to observe gross motor skills activities such as making a bed or fine motor of cutting. In all cases the space should be video ready.
Keep Communication Lines Open
The virtual setting is a great opportunity for the therapist to address questions and concerns in real time. For an in-person session, a parent typically interacts with the therapist for a few minutes before and after a session. The expanded time is a gift to communicate specific needs and obtain insight on specific tools and techniques. This also allows for more effective communication in email and telephone calls.
Take advantage of this unique opportunity
The home setting gives the therapists peak into the patients environment where they can tailor their tools and techniques to address challenges to support the exact setup in the home. If your child needs assistance with the use of a microwave, the therapist can walk them through the steps on the appliance they use each day. This goes a long way to build confidence.
Expect connection issues
Technology is not perfect! With the high level of activity online, connection issues will happen. More than 90% of the time things work well. If a problem occurs, we will try to reschedule.
Virtual is not that drastically different from in-person. It’s only a different methodology and can lead great results. Remember, this distinctive opportunity will expose you to numerous ideas on how to support your child’s growth and independence.