It has been about five weeks now since Governor Tim Walz signed Executive Order 20-20 directing Minnesotans to stay at home and limit movements outside their home beyond essential needs.
We have all been busy – learning and changing the way we live, work, communicate, play, and share our experiences. Out of concern about the safety of our staff, clients, our families and friends, we transitioned to teletherapy. Teletherapy is an effective way to deliver speech therapy services. Research supports teletherapy as a method of advancing a child’s speech and language goals.
So, after making the transition to teletherapy speech services, we are happy to tell you that we are having great success. We are all adjusting, to this new way of teaching and learning. Some of our concerns are turning out to be some of our unexpected successes. Children are not only feeling comfortable in their own homes, but they get to learn, share and play with their therapists in their own natural environments. We are also finding out that receiving therapy in the home makes it easier for parents to participate in their children’s sessions and work with their therapist to learn new ways to help them grow and succeed.
Even though teletherapy was not what we intended when we first met you, it is now becoming an integral part of our services. It allows us to help those that do not have a flexible schedule, those that live far away, or those who have a sick child at home and cannot drive to the clinic.
If you are still wondering if teletherapy is right for you or your child, give us a call. We are here to help you.
For those of you that are new to teletherapy, we are providing some of the answers to commonly asked questions.
Q: What is telehealth or teletherapy?
A: Teletherapy is the delivery of medical (speech therapy) services using telecommunication technology. At Speech and Language Connections, we use a HIPAA compliant platform to provide therapy sessions through video conferencing on a computer, tablet, or mobile device.
Q: What kind of technological resources do I need access to in order to use Speech Teletherapy?
A: You need a computer, tablet, or mobile device that has a camera, microphone, and speakers. You will also need access to either WiFi or wired internet connection and a secure location from which you can “attend” your sessions. Headphones that have a microphone and speaker would work well if you do not have an integrated microphone and speakers on your device.
Q: Does my child need to have previously been in therapy to start teletherapy sessions at Speech and Language Connections?
A: No, however, each child will need to have a recent report with goals. If your child does not have a previous or recent report, an evaluation will need to be documented by one of our therapists. This can most likely be completed over teletherapy. Please call our office and we will help you sort it out.
Q: How do children learn over teletherapy?
A: Children oftentimes prefer interacting with others over electronic means– it’s the world they’ve grown up in. That said, depending on the child’s age a parent may need to be present to help the child, especially with technological issues.
Q: Does health insurance cover teletherapy for speech services?
A: Speech and Language Connections is a preferred provider for BCBS, UHC, Preferred One, Health Partners, Medica, AETNA and Medicaid. As we are finding out, during these unprecedented times most insurance companies cover teletherapy. We recommend, however, that you call your insurance company to verify benefits.
If you need help, you can call our office at 763-315-6616 to help you understand what questions to ask so they can clarify coverage.
Q: How often will my child receive speech therapy through teletherapy?
A: This will depend on your child’s needs. Your child’s therapist will make a recommendation based on the evaluation findings, progress, and your schedule. Ultimately the child’s parents determine if the child is able to participate in the recommended amount of therapy. Many children have weekly therapy sessions with some having twice a week and have great benefits.
Q: Are my child’s sessions still confidential?
A: We are still following the same legal guidelines regarding confidentiality that we adhere to during in-person sessions. We will also ensure that when we are providing a teletherapy session, we are doing so from a secure, private, HIPAA compliant location. It is important that you, as the client, also ensure that you are in a private and confidential space when you engage in a teletherapy session in order to ensure privacy on your end.