Early Intervention Teletherapy Series
This is a post by a colleague of mine, Nanette Cote, MA, CCC-SLP. She also provides services through Lighthouse Therapy and has a private practice, Naperville Therapediatrics, Naperville, Illinois. Her speech and language clinic is rooted in a family-centered approach where caregivers are active members of therapy sessions and essential to carryover of newly acquired skills.
I am so happy to be able to promote and support Nanette and her efforts.
Early Intervention Teletherapy Series
By Nanette Cote, MA, CCC-SLP
Welcome to the first installment of successful teletherapy via parent coaching! Whether you are new to the teletherapy world or a seasoned practitioner, this post is a perfect outline for you!! When I transitioned my private practice clients from my home office to an online platform, I gave this advice: “My goal is to have your child look at me as little as possible.” In this coaching model, you, the SLP will coach parents through the session. My next few blog posts will outline a core activity for your virtual instruction. For this special, water play edition, here are the resources you, the speech pathologist, will need:
A web camera
That’s it. All you need is you, a parent, your client, and a web camera. Your parent or caregiver will likely need a little more than that though. If they can set up a browser with a web camera (built-in or portable) near a sink, then that will work. Otherwise, a decent-sized bin with a couple of inches of water is cool too. Now it’s time to add some fun! No need to purchase fancy bath toys, but if they have some on hand, then have them grab a few. These everyday items will lend to some language enrichment just as well:
- Small disposable or plastic cup
- Dish soap
- Empty bottles (hand soap, dish soap, shampoo)
- Matchbox cars, baby doll, or dishware for pretend play
- Child’s watering can
- Grow towels from the Dollar Store
Have your parent bag up a few things and keep it handy for the session. There is no need to have them fill the sink/bin beforehand. Why take the fun of it at the start, right? Clients can use bottles, cups, faucets to fill the container and squirt in a few pumps of soap. This is a great way to work on following directions such as:
- Get bin.
- Fill bottle with water.
- Turn the water on/off.
- Pour in cold/warm water.
- Squirt 3 pumps of soap.
You can even suggest 2-step directions by combining the above or creating your own.
When the water bin is filled, it’s time to break out the objects for play. This is where you the therapist will fine-tune the interaction. Give a reminder about the goal you are targeting in this activity just before the parent opens the bag/ container of objects. Once the action gets going, try and limit your suggestions to allow for the natural flow of communication. Below are some examples of goals that you can target in this water play activity:
- Imitating actions/ sounds/ words
- Using objects/ pictures/ signs/ gestures/ words/ phrases to make requests
- Following simple directions
- Using two objects together in play
- Expanding play sequences (i.e., put toy cars in the water, scrub them with a brush, dry them)
If you are looking for even more goals, then my book: We Talk on Water is available on Amazon. This resource includes over 20 lesson plans that can be incorporate into home water play activities. I walk you through each of the following in detailed outlines from materials to songs:
- Silly imitation
- Following routine and novel directions
- Turn Taking
- Imaginative play
- Expressive language
After 15-20 minutes parents can let the child take a movement break or help clean up objects while you provide specific feedback. Point out what went well and make suggestions. Assign some homework repeating this activity and/or blend the goals into another, functional routine like bath time.
For a successful session, talk about this plan with your family at least a week in advance of your online appointment. This allows families time to put together the materials and digest the goals for the interaction. Remember, your task as a coach is to help train the parent for enhancing communication with their child throughout home routines and play tasks. For more information about my speech and language services, you can visit my website at: https://napervilletherapediatrics.com