In March 2020 lockdowns shut us into our rooms and all of the joys of life were taken away in a press conference at 1 pm on the tele, we were all in a state of uncertainty and worry. Everything was cancelled; friends, fun, the park, even school and of course your therapy sessions, what was going to happen there?
Those who were lucky enough to be engaged in services at the time were offered virtual visits in place of their regular clinic, home or school visits. Some people immediately said, “Little Johnny isn’t suitable for telehealth” and it was written across their file in big ‘no’ letters. Some others probably feared losing their spot in the calendar, so they gave it a go, no doubt they had their fears. Why wouldn’t you? No doubt you had images of a face barking orders at your 3-year-old who had promptly run off to play trains in the other room and there’s $200 down the drain.
Granted, it does depend on the therapist and their own creative niche, but this applies to all therapy sessions. Every therapist has a different approach and over lockdown, some of us became pretty crafty when it came to telehealth. After all, we did have about 6 months to hone our skills and keep kids entertained while we endlessly drilled the ‘r’ sound.
There are online board games, build a monster/house/car/face/snowman sites, click and drag activities, green screens behind us with fish that are ‘mysteriously’ dropped into the pond. Treasure hunts in the garden, letters from the fairies, craft activities, obstacle course designs and guess what’s in the bag. These are just some of the activities we used in our sessions over the long cold lockdown era. Often the siblings come along and want to play too, having fun with extra kids is sometimes a price you have to pay for being just too much fun!
Early language has been one of the big winners in my telehealth career as I get to see the parents play with their little ones in the home, I follow them around with the screen and I guide them on how to use strategies in real-time such as saying ‘in’ every time a car goes in the bucket, our little friend joins in the super awesome chucking game and then all of a sudden little Johnny blurts a perfect “in!” as though he has been secretly practising the whole time. Sometimes the little tots recognise that I’m over there on the screen giving tips to mum, other times they don’t.
Yes, each situation and family is different and sometimes telehealth isn’t the best option for you but maybe it will be and you don’t even know it yet. My dad didn’t eat cheese until he was 20, he missed out on so many years of joy, even pizza would have been dull.
If there is a snap lockdown and everything gets cancelled again, maybe ask your therapist about what you could do in a virtual visit session with your child. You might also find it’s actually a great option for other times too. Avoid yet another cancellation when someone has the sniffles, the car breaks down, grandma is visiting or you’re travelling around Australia with 3 kids, a dog and a caravan. And maybe some days it’s just less messing around in your busy schedule and easier to open up Zoom to get your therapy from the comfort of your own home.
After 6 lockdowns (counting) the Pen Speech Plus team have become leaders in delivering virtual visits right to your home. Our commitment through this time has been to continue to support our community in the safest way for all.
We look forward to seeing you online