How Online Speech Therapy is Transforming Speech Therapy in School Systems

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1 How Online Speech Therapy is Transforming Speech Therapy in School Systems

2 Section TABLE OF CONTENTS Page ONLINE SPEECH THERAPY AN EFFECTIVE SOLUTION FOR STUDENT SPEECH THERAPY NEEDS.. 2 How Does Online Speech Therapy Work?... 2 Easy Access for Students and Administrators... 3 Online Speech Therapy is Endorsed by the ASHA... 4 Benefits of online speech therapy... 4 HOW THE TELETHERAPY MODEL IS TRANSFORMING SPEECH THERAPY IN SCHOOLS... 5 Services Offered through Online Speech Therapy... 6 Online Speech Therapy Annual Cycle and Session Activities... 7 Documentation... 8 What can a family expect?... 8 A PARTNER WITH PROVEN SUCCESS IN ONLINE SPEECH THERAPY... 8 Proven Effective... 9 Connections Learning 1 (888)

3 ONLINE SPEECH THERAPY AN EFFECTIVE SOLUTION FOR STUDENT SPEECH THERAPY NEEDS Speech and language disorders can have a negative impact on a child s ability to communicate with families and peers, as well as make progress academically. These disorders range from articulation, which is incorrect production of speech sounds, to language, which is the child s ability to understand and effectively use language to communicate. For example, a child may say wabbit for rabbit or not have enough knowledge of vocabulary to understand a text that he or she is reading for a class assignment. Younger school-age children often have a natural curiosity, which drives their learning. As children progress in school and the work begins to get more difficult, sometimes they begin to lose interest in the learning process. That is why speech therapy is so important. Unfortunately, in the face of budget cuts and a national shortage of speech therapists, schools are struggling to meet these critical student needs as well as requirements mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Many school administrators are choosing to addresses these challenges by providing licensed speech therapy services through a cutting-edge online speech therapy ( teletherapy ) approach. We are living in an age where children use technology on a daily basis to learn, play and communicate with others. Online speech therapy appeals to that inclination. Students are able to get onto the computer, which is very motivating, and engage with a professional speechlanguage pathologist to work towards improving his or her communication. The technology used in online speech therapy enables the child and therapist to see and hear each other, as well as participate in interactive activities. Students are more motivated to attend speech therapy and therapists have the technology literally at their fingertips to plan and deliver highquality and innovative services. How Does Online Speech Therapy Work? In many ways online speech therapy is just like face-to-face therapy, but instead of sitting in the same room, the therapist and student(s) and/or family communicate via the Internet. During therapy sessions, the student and therapist can see, hear, and interact with one another in real time, using web cams, headsets and a live, synchronous online learning environment. Licensed, highly trained speech language therapists Connections Learning 2 (888)

4 use traditional speech therapy techniques and activities through innovative software and tools. For example, the therapist can share her screen as she interacts in speech language activities with her students, or use a white board or other appropriate instructional tools. Online speech therapy gives budget-constrained schools and districts the ability to provide their students access to speech pathologists who are board certified professionals and who hold ASHA s Certificate of Clinical Competence in the field of Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP), a nationally recognized professional credential that represents a level of excellence in the field. Speech pathologists who have achieved ASHA s CCC-SLP certification have voluntarily met rigorous academic and professional standards, typically going beyond the minimum requirements for state licensure. Online speech therapy works for students in both individual and group settings. The online speech pathologist works one-on-one with individual students to pinpoint and ameliorate articulation and language challenges all through technology tools that students find engaging and personal. For group speech therapy, the online speech pathologist works with multiple students simultaneously to address pragmatic language deficits which impact students social skills. Students need not be together physically to benefit from this group approach, opening up new possibilities for providing service to students in multiple schools and facilities simultaneously. Easy Access for Students and Administrators The shortage of speech therapists often means that schools and districts have to share staff, making scheduling a challenge. In some cases, connecting with the right speech pathologist face-to-face requires families to travel good distances. Either way, ensuring access to needed therapies takes important time away from learning and creates stress for students. Online speech therapy eliminates these geographic and logistical barriers and gives school administrators, students, and families tremendous flexibility in where and when therapy sessions take place whether at home, at school, at a hospital, clinic or other residential or non-residential health care facility. Connections Learning 3 (888)

5 Online Speech Therapy is Endorsed by the ASHA The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has long endorsed this technologyfueled approach as an appropriate and effective service delivery model. Online speech therapy essentially uses telecommunications technology to deliver professional services from a distance by linking therapist to student for assessment, intervention, and consultation. The official policy statement of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association: Telepractice is the application of telecommunications technology to deliver professional services at a distance by linking clinician to client, or clinician to clinician for assessment, intervention, and/or consultation. It is the position of the American Speech- Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) that telepractice (telehealth) is an appropriate model of service delivery for the profession of speech language pathology. Telepractice may be used to overcome barriers of access to services caused by distance, unavailability of specialists and/or subspecialists, and impaired mobility. Telepractice offers the potential to extend clinical services to remote, rural, and underserved populations, and to culturally and linguistically diverse populations. The use of telepractice does not remove any existing responsibilities in delivering services, including adherence to the Code of Ethics, Scope of Practice, state and federal laws (e.g., licensure, HIPAA, etc.), and ASHA policy documents on professional practices. Therefore, the quality of services delivered via telepractice must be consistent with the quality of services delivered face-to-face. Benefits of online speech therapy The research on online speech therapy and other forms of telepractice is most promising. Small-scale scientific studies show general effectiveness in use of telepractice to treat articulation, fluency, and language in school-based children, and more research is underway. Perhaps even more convincing is the feedback from parents and students, who love the convenience and personalization of the individual online speech therapy approach and are seeing concrete results from the pragmatic groups addressing communication-based social skills. The benefits of online speech therapy include: Convenience of therapy coming to students in their own home Lower cost of travel Connections Learning 4 (888)

6 Increased work productivity for therapists Flexible scheduling Services received in a natural environment which allows the student to feel comfortable and offer improved opportunity for carryover of new skills due to involvement of caregivers and siblings The use of fun and engaging technology Access to top quality SLP s even in areas with critical resource shortages Access to multilingual SLP s All documentation kept in one secure online location accessible to parent/approved school personnel at any time HOW THE TELETHERAPY MODEL IS TRANSFORMING SPEECH THERAPY IN SCHOOLS Carol Polovoy from the ASHA Leader writes that remote and underserved school districts across the country increasingly are turning to telepractice to meet the communication needs of their students and finding success. She continues by providing information from a speechlanguage practitioner engaged in online speech therapy, implementing telepractice does not require tens of thousands of dollars. You just need to use readily available technology well. [ ] A successful telepractice model involves preparing a good implementation plan, recognizing your stakeholders and drawing on their strengths and enlisting their commitment, and preparing for the unique challenges involved in effective telepractice, including documentation management, working with virtual and co-located teams, and appropriately documenting roles and responsibilities."(polovoy, Carol, The ASHA Leader, Telepractice in Schools Helps Address Personnel Shortages, July, 2008). Connections Learning has experience in delivering online speech therapy having served more than 800 students across 30 states through multiple schools for more than two years. Below is a framework for how Connections Learning speech pathologists are working with those schools. All Connections Learning (CL) therapists meet the requirements for speech language pathologists as defined by ASHA and are certified in the states in which they offer services. Therapists are routinely observed by master therapists to ensure high service quality. Connections Learning 5 (888)

7 Speech-language pathologists hold the ASHA Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech- Language Pathology (CCC-SLP), which requires a master's, doctoral, or other recognized post baccalaureate degree. ASHA certified speech-language pathologists complete a supervised postgraduate professional experience and pass a national examination as described in the ASHA certification standards. Demonstration of continued professional development is mandated for the maintenance of the CCC-SLP. Where applicable, speech language pathologists hold other required credentials (e.g., state licensure, teaching certification). Additionally, CL therapists undergo further special training in how to use the online speech therapy techniques skillfully and effectively, ensuring the very best care. Services Offered through Online Speech Therapy CL speech-language pathologists address typical and atypical communication in the following areas: speech sound production o articulation o apraxia of speech fluency o stuttering o cluttering language (comprehension and expression) o phonology o morphology o syntax o semantics o pragmatics (language use, social aspects of communication) o literacy (reading, writing, spelling) o prelinguistic communication (e.g., joint attention, intentionality, communicative signaling) o paralinguistic communication cognition o attention o memory o sequencing o problem solving o executive functioning Written Language Connections Learning 6 (888)

8 Online Speech Therapy Annual Cycle and Session Activities The annual cycle of therapy in telepractice is much the same as in-person treatment And the activities within each therapy session are customized to an individual student s needs. While the framework for each session is similar, no two therapy sessions ever look exactly alike because the session is catered to what each student needs. Welcome, warm up and goals for the day Therapeutic activities and games Wrap up and homework Consultation with parents Connections Learning 7 (888)

9 Documentation All documentation is stored online and is accessible from a single secure home page for parents and approved school personnel at any time. Therapists update documentation after every session, so the information is always up to date. Speech-language pathologists prepare, sign, and maintain, within an established time frame, documentation that reflects the nature of the professional service. Results of assessment and treatment are reported to the patient/client and family/caregivers, as appropriate. Reports are distributed to the referral source and other professionals when appropriate and with written consent. The privacy and security of documentation are maintained in compliance with the regulations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and other state and federal laws. What can a family expect? Once a student is enrolled, his or her needs are assessed in order to determine the best therapist fit and course of treatment. If formal assessment is needed, it is conducted prior to the initiation of a therapy plan. If a student has a valid evaluation and IEP on file, that plan of care already in place can be implemented if that best suits the student. An introductory phone consultation is held with every caregiver (and student, where applicable) to discuss the student s needs, therapy history, caregiver expectations of the program, and proposed plan of care. Therapy is initiated based on the agreed upon plan of care. The first session always consists of a technology overview and a Get To Know You activity. Progress notes are delivered quarterly, and CL therapists attend IEP meetings to provide input into revised goals as needed. A PARTNER WITH PROVEN SUCCESS IN ONLINE SPEECH THERAPY Connections Learning has established itself as an expert and responsive partner in deploying effective, cost-efficient Online speech therapy programs. Connections Learning draws upon Connections Academy LLC s solid decade of experience in serving students outside the traditional classroom setting. Founded in 2001, Connections Academy is a leading, fully accredited provider of high-quality, highly accountable virtual education for students in grades K 12. Connections Academy currently operates 23 virtual public schools in 22 states, and has over 30,000 students enrolled and over 350,000 courses Connections Learning 8 (888)

10 delivered in , with over 100,000 students served and 1,000,000 courses delivered in the past 10 years. All courses meet or exceed state and national standards (including the Common Core), and the program is accredited by multiple agencies including AdvancED and the regional accreditors. Additional detail on our curriculum and course offerings by grade level is provided in the Connections Learning Curriculum Guide available at This robust curriculum is integrated into a proprietary education management system developed specifically for use in K-12 virtual programs. Over the past decade, the Connections curriculum, platform, and method of online teaching have produced the highest academic performance of any family of K 12 schools in the country. 1 In January 2011, Connections Academy became Connections Education with two divisions Connections Learning and Connections Academy. The Connections Academy division will continue to focus on serving fulltime virtual public schools, while Connections Education brings this accumulated expertise in online teaching and learning to school districts around the nation. Proven Effective Only the Connections Learning program offers online courses that have all been public schooltested and a model that has demonstrated success in one of the nation s largest school districts. Our online program works, and we have the state standardized test scores to prove it. Connections Academy schools regularly meet or exceed state benchmarks in core subjects, and Advanced Placement students using the Connections program outscore the national average on the AP test. Our program also gets top marks in user satisfaction: more than 96% of parents agree that our curriculum is high quality, and 92% say their students agree they are making good academic progress at their Connections schools. To find out more about a partnership with Connections Learning, contact us at (888) or visit us at 1 Based on the percentage of schools operated making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP); state report card ratings; and the overall percentage of enrolled students in the program rated as proficient or above on state standardized tests. Connections Learning 9 (888)

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