With therapy sessions now moved to online settings, and children receiving virtual therapy as their source for occupational therapy intervention, you may be wondering HOW to help your child thrive in virtual therapy sessions. With many parents experiencing their first encounter with online therapy, I wanted to put together tips that you can pass on to parents to allow their child to succeed in online therapy sessions. Here are common teletherapy activities that can serve as a starting point. Remember that occupational teletherapy is a virtual version of face-to-face occupational therapy sessions.
Virtual Therapy Tips for Parents
Let your therapist know what you need and where your child is struggling- The family and parents are part of the “team” with the child being the center of that relationship. Parents are often times the voice for the child to communicate needs or frustrations of the child. With new realities as a result of public health issues, kids can struggle in unprecedented ways. Be sure to communicate any new changes with your child’s therapist.
Gather any needed materials- Consult with the therapist prior to the virtual session by email or text to find out what materials you should have ready for the session.
Prepare your child for teletherapy sessions- Add a computer “appointment” to your child’s written or visual schedule. Let them know in advance (at the appropriate level of understanding of your child).
Prepare the area- Set up a specific location for teletherapy sessions to occur. Have headphones or a headset there and ready for your teletherapy session.
Log on and check internet connection a few minutes before your scheduled time- Realize that your child’s therapist likely has between 6-14 virtual therapy sessions scheduled each day. They are striving to meet the needs of your kiddo right along with all of the other kiddos on their caseload. Being on time provides the best service for your child and is considerate of the therapist’s hefty schedule.
Try a trial run- Consider setting up a trial run with use of the headphones and a video conference call with a grandparent or friend to practice speaking into the headphones or computer microphone. Try the headphone volume at this time, too. This is a good time to test the lighting in the room, and placement of the computer’s camera.
Prepare the household- Let siblings or others in the home know that the teletherapy appointment is scheduled. This is a time for the child to interact with their therapist. Try to reduce background distractions if possible. Put pets and distracting toys away during the teletherapy session.
Consult with the therapist regarding being an “e-helper”- Some activities and interventions may require the use of an adult to act as an e-helper. This is especially true for younger children or during hands-on tasks. Here is more information on understanding teletherapy and e-helpers.
What would you add to this list? Do you have any suggestions for parents who have children receiving occupational therapy teletherapy for the first time?