Struggling to keep you clients engaged during teletherapy sessions? Check out our 5 tips below to shake up your sessions.
Teletherapy allows families to receive high-quality speech and language services in the comfort and convenience of their own homes. They are often times better able to maintain a consistent therapy schedule. Research shows that teletherapy is just as effective as in-person services. Teletherapy creates opportunities for more engagement and collaboration between SLPs, clients, and family members. It is endorsed by the American-Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and the Mayo Clinic.
I have been providing teletherapy for the past 6 years and these are a few tricks that I have learned over the years.
Here are 5 ways to increase engagement with your virtual clients
Using a green screen allows you to change your background to create a wide variety of fun and engaging sessions. You’ll need a large piece of green fabric like felt or even a green tablecloth to go on a wall behind you. You will be able to display fun picture scenes behind you, like a farm scene, a large board game, animals, etc.
One of my go-to favorites is the farm scene. I will place farm animals on the farm scene. I created the farm animals by printing and laminating farm animals and placing velcro on the back to attach to my felt green screen. It requires a bit of prep work but totally worth it as I use it over and over again in my sessions. You can target labeling animals, imitating animal noises, spatial concepts, making requests, and even speech sounds.
Recently, I was working on fronting with a 4-year old teletherapy SSD client. I would “hide” an animal by turning off my camera while I stuck an animal on the farm scene then turn the camera on and have the child find the animal. They would tell me “look it’s a….by the….” to target final /k/.
Just because you are communicating through a screen doesn’t mean that you can’t still include your favorite manipulatives in your session. I love to play “what’s in the bag?” to engage clients. I will place mini objects inside plastic eggs and place the plastic eggs inside a bag. I’ll shake the bag to increase their interest and pull out two eggs. I allow the child to choose which egg they would like to open. We’ll open the egg to see what inside. You can use this activity to target specific speech sounds, requesting, descriptive skills, categorizing, and labeling.
Another great item is the beloved critter clinic. I will place animals or mini objects inside of the clinic doors and the children will request to see what is inside. You can use this activity to target specific speech sounds, requesting, descriptive skills, and labeling as well.
Be sure to use the child’s interests when planning your session. You are much more likely to get their buy-in if you can incorporate a preferred topic or activity.
If the child loves dogs, you could use scrub a pup to target a variety of language or speech sound goals or to use a simple reinforcement activity.
Children love to feel like they are in charge. You can let them feel that way by giving them a few choices for an activity from which to pick. Offering them the opportunity to use mouse control to manipulate the screen on from their computer. I will also make blatant errors like labeling a tiger as a pizza so that they can correct me. It engages them and they find it hilarious.
I like to share pictures of my pets in my sessions and find that they can be a great motivator and opportunity for language. They can also be a great reinforcer as well. My cats will join the end of a session for a treat upon the client’s request.
Be silly! Be goofy and fun. Many adults seem to forget how to play but when you loosen up and find your inner child, it is much easier to get your client laughing and engaging in the session.
Devon Lawrey, CCC-SLP has been practicing speech therapy throughout the state of Michigan for six years. She has her Master's Degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Western Michigan University. Her passion in life is collaborating with families to support their child's individual communication needs and improve their overall quality of life.