It’s hard to believe that almost three years ago we were ‘forced’ to switch to teletherapy for occupational therapy services. Today, we are still providing teletherapy; but this method of treatment is anything but forced. There are several unique benefits of doing occupational therapy through telehealth.
This may be the most obvious of all benefits, but you cannot deny that teletherapy is so convenient! Getting your child from school, home, other extracurriculars to therapy can be a chore. You have to consider transitioning times, traffic, and juggling multiple schedules to get to
and from therapy, and oftentimes the whole day revolves around one 30-minute session. Occupational therapy can be even more beneficial and you can dedicate more time to continued work on functional skills by buying back some of that precious time spent in the car.
- Using Materials at Home Increases Opportunities for Replication
Each week, I send my clients a list of household items to have ready for their therapy session. This is an excellent opportunity for parents to learn the therapeutic benefits of objects they already have (Who knew how many fine motor skills can be addressed with a single piece of
printer paper?). Furthermore, it allows the session to be targeted to the clients unique interests. If a child has a preferred toy, we use it in sessions and provide new ways to play with it to increase therapeutic value and skill building. It also allows parents to replicate OT sessions and reinforce targeted skills outside of OT. Furthermore, children are more likely to engage in therapeutic tasks independently because they have all of the necessary materials available to them at all times.
- Increased Parent Education Opportunities
Teletherapy sessions provide the unique opportunity for open dialogue throughout the session between the provider and parents. Parents can ask questions and receive undivided attention from the therapist. In addition, when working on hands-on tasks, parents are able to carry out the suggested intervention with the therapist’s guidance. This increases parent confidence and follow through with home programs.
- Ability to Alter the Environment
During teletherapy sessions, the therapist has the unique opportunity to make suggestions to alter the home environment for increased success in functional skills. For example, when addressing self feeding, the therapist is able to make suggestions about seating using the table, chairs, high chair, etc. that you have. We can also make suggestions regarding specific utensils to use. When addressing strengthening, the therapist can make suggestions using toys, furniture or specific spaces in your house to facilitate strengthening and positioning interventions. Therapists can also make suggestions regarding sensory strategies and adaptations to make around the home to assist in regulation.
- Maximizing Time
Providing teletherapy services also maximizes the time spent engaging in therapeutic activity. We are able to cut out transitions into sessions including unplanned bathroom breaks. We can eliminate transition time out of the session and the possibility of taking a little too long to make the ever important choice on a flavor of lollipop. Teletherapy allows us to focus on direct targeted intervention for the duration of the session.