Spotlight on Twin Speech and Language, LLC: Telepractice!

Today’s awesome spotlight post is from the fantastic speech duo, Twin Speech and Language, LLC (links found throughout the blog below).  And if you are not familiar with them, please take a few minutes after this guest post to check out their links. They provide amazing insight, ideas and tips as well as awesome products! 

Congratulations are in order!  There’s a new baby in town! Yay!  How wonderful that Maria has had her new baby and is taking a nice break away from the computer to be with her precious new family addition.  We wish you a wonderful maternity leave Maria! And in the meantime, we are honored to be able to guest post at your wonderful blog, Communication Station!  You are always providing so much useful information for other speech-language pathologists, teachers, and caregivers and we love reading your blog! 
Today we would like to provide a guest post on something that Shanda does once a week that is making a big difference to a lot of students, that’s very much speech therapy related, and partially takes place in her home basement office! Yes, that’s right, in her home basement office! It is called telepractice speech therapy, and we hope that you can read on to find out more about this useful way of providing speech therapy to students who need it, but do not happen to have a speech-language pathologist readily available in their area to help them.  
Have a happy day!
Manda & Shanda, SLPs
Twin Speech, Language & Literacy LLC
Find us over at our Twin Speech, Language & Literacy LLC blog, Teachers Pay Teachers, Teachers Notebook or Facebook today!

Many people know that I work at a clinic part-time, but not everyone knows that I also work for a wonderful company named Speech Partners, doing online speech therapy for a school in northern Minnesota one day a week.  Once a fellow SLP colleague learns that I am working via telepractice, I usually receive numerous questions from them. I always try to answer them of course, but I have also said, “I’ll be writing a blog post on that subject soon.”  This post has been a few months in the making and I’m happy to say that I’m finally getting to writing it for all those who have asked me to do it!   

What is Online Speech Therapy?  It is speech therapy delivered from a SLP to a student via the Internet. Another name for it is “telepractice”.  The SLP is able to provide assessment, intervention and conduct IEP meetings using secure web based programs.  The students participate from their school, home or other facility that is logged into the same secured program as the SLP for a live connection. Both the SLP and student are able to be seen on each others computer screens. The SLP can use many forms of materials for targeting individual speech therapy goals such as on-line games and resources, saved materials from the SLP’s computer and saved materials from the secured web program provided to the therapist.  On the other side a trained paraprofessional assists with scheduling, physical prompts, paperwork distribution, technology issues, ensuring students are ready for each session on time, organizes materials and other service provider contact as indicated.
What is ASHA’s position?  The American Speech and Hearing Associations position is that telepractice is an appropriate model of service delivery for the profession of speech-language pathology.  Telepractice is endorsed by ASHA. ASHA believes that it has helped to overcome barriers of access to service and offers speech therapy to under served populations.  The Code of Ethics, and state and local laws all need to be upheld delivering service via telepractice. ASHA has many studies at their site that have compared the effectiveness of telepractice and traditional speech therapy delivery. ASHA has established a special interest division which helps to support education and research of telepractice.
What is needed? High speed Internet, web cam, high quality audio chat, advanced interactive therapy tools, two monitors work best, head set, printer, fax machine, and a scanner.  Here are pictures of what my set-up looks like. I recommend a comfy chair and comfy head phones! Also, here is a picture of my furry company, my cat Pepper, who likes to lay near me on telepractice days. He’s a sweet cat, except he did one naughty thing once. He actually chewed through the cord of my head phones that I use in telepractice! I had to get a new set of headphones right away! His new nick name is “Chewy” now. ha!
What are the benefits? Because the SLP and students are face-to-face I feel that the students are more motivated to work harder and without distraction. Progress seems to be quicker on individual goals since the students are participating well with the computer interface. More productions in less time are completed when the student is a willing participant.  The headphones appear to help the students attend to task better as well. Probably the best benefit of telepractice is the ability to provide speech therapy to students who may live where service is not always available. Schools are able to provide services which are mandated by state laws.  SLP’s do not have to travel between schools nor do the students need to travel to and from a clinic far from their home. The computer programs are user friendly and the SLP even has the capability to control the students computer. SLP’s can work from home, enjoy a flexible schedule, be compensated competitively and be part of an innovative new part of our field.
What are the challenges? If the paraprofessional is not confident in resolving technical issues, helping to assist the student,  or with knowing how to help with behavior issues. These are disadvantages written by other SLP’s in telepractice, but they have not been an issue for me at all. The paraprofessional that I work with is excellent in every way and has always been a tremendous help.  Other challenges that arise is the loss of physical contact such as when the SLP wants to make a physical prompt for an articulation posture or even that physical ability to walk into a teachers room and speak to them face- to- face. Also, if there is a technical issue such as the Internet is down this of course interrupts service for the day.  This too though has only happened once to me in the two years I have worked in telepractice.
I have really enjoyed my experience with telepractice and plan on continuing it again this school year. I have been able to work with many of the same students in the last two years and I look forward to seeing them again this fall. I also anticipate discharging several of them due in part to their steady progress made during their speech therapy via the engaging format of telepractice. 
Here are some links brought up in this post: 
The wonderful company I work for:Speech PartnersSpeech Partners | Online Speech Teherapy
Are you a SLP in Minnesota and considering this unique career path? Definitely contact them!
View ASHA’s position on telepractice:   HERE
View ASHA’s research studies on telepractice:  HERE
Learn about ASHA’s special interest group on telepractice:  HERE
View a video about telepractice from ASHA:  HERE
If you have any other questions for me please don’t hesitate to leave a comment and/or email me at and I will do my best to answer.  Thanks so much everyone and have a terrific day!