Telepractice & Teletherapy
Over the last decade the world has become increasingly accustomed to learning and communicating through the use of technology. The use of computers, smart phones, iPads and other tablets has allowed us to learn faster than ever before. It has also increased access to information and opportunities have become more accessible to those who were previously left out due to differences, delays, and disabilities.
Speech-Language Pathology, related fields of medicine and research are able to help more people thanks to the accessibility of technology. Expensive communication devices and computers are being replaced with cheaper and more portable iPads and smartphones. Those with speech or hearing difficulties can now communicate quickly with anyone at any time.
Video modeling has been used widely to teach thousands of skills through watching and listening to others as they learn, master skills and finish tasks. Children and adolescents learn best from their peers and will talk, play, learn, move and even eat better when with peers or simply by watching them.
Children of all ages know what YouTube is and prefer certain topics to watch and imitate. Programs like Copy-Kids or Gemiini use discrete video modeling to improve speaking and eating abilities. Some studies found learning simple tasks like making a sandwich were learned independently using a video model of the skill. These examples require no adult mediation (other than accessing and navigating the software, perhaps) and advertise their appeal because the learning is passive and doesn’t require a therapist or adult “teacher”.
In addition, the effects last well beyond watching, imitating and completing the task. Some have found skills to be duplicated 10-14 hours later (latency and saliency).
The business, marketing and corporate worlds have used teleconferencing for decades to minimize travel and control the content discussed in meetings. Teletherapy has the same goals and more now that shared screens allow multiple people to view the same activity, see each person in the session, see themselves and can watch recordings later to reinforce the event or content.
People with Down syndrome have higher receptive language (what is understood) than expressive language (what they can tell others) and learn better visually than auditorily. They like to watch themselves, unlike some of us, and enjoy anything that is visual paired with rhythm like music. In addition, specialty services and therapies are most accessible in and near big cities or universities, leaving those farther away to settle for more standard care and delayed innovation. Today, people can access better care simply by having internet access.