Telepractice is reshaping how special education services are delivered in an increasingly digital world. With 10 years of experience, and 2 million teletherapy sessions completed, PresenceLearning knows a lot about providing speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, and psychoeducational services online. The PresenceLearning Care Network has nearly 1,000 qualified SLPs, OTs, school psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers with school-based experience providing services to school districts across the country.
Let’s look at seven compelling reasons to adopt telepractice as a solution for delivering special education services in your school or school district.
1. Fill Critical Service Gaps
Special education professionals today are frequently confronted with large caseloads and backlogs of students requiring evaluation. SPED directors often struggle with a critical shortage of clinical service providers which makes it difficult to serve the growing number of students with special needs. One approach SPED directors can take is to incorporate telepractice as part of a blended service-delivery model that includes both onsite and online therapists. With PresenceLearning’s teletherapy services, schools can access a wide network of licensed clinicians with school-based experience—to meet the service delivery requirements outlined in students’ IEPs.
2. Support Onsite Clinicians and their Caseloads
Many school districts today use teletherapy services to support their onsite therapists and extend their teams. In partnership with PresenceLearning, schools have been able to add clinicians in hard-to-fill roles, and entrust management of evaluations to PresenceLearning clinicians. By supplementing onsite staff, or splitting responsibilities for therapy and evaluations, teletherapy can help prevent staff burnout by ensuring onsite therapists have more manageable caseloads. The contracted providers in the PresenceLearning network work closely with onsite paraprofessionals to help students get to their sessions, stay focused, and receive the support they need.
3. Provide Individualized Attention That Students Require
Telepractice sessions are typically delivered one-on-one or in small groups. With the PresenceLearning platform, our clinicians can easily individualize teletherapy sessions to meet students’ goal areas and developmental abilities. Using the vast library of resources and materials on the platform, clinicians can match student interests with content to increase student engagement and focus. Many providers work closely with onsite teachers to align telepractice sessions with classroom curriculum and activities. Clinicians can also customize therapy rooms to reduce visual overload and distraction. For example, they can adjust color filters and increase the size of the therapy activity on the monitor to focus students’ attention to auditory and visual stimuli. PresenceLearning’s platform integrates the planning, assessment, and treatment of students in one location, enabling the teletherapy clinician, in collaboration with onsite staff, to create an optimal learning environment for each student’s success.
4. Reach Students Where They Are
Teletherapy services offer the ability for students to participate in therapy sessions, no matter where they live or attend school. Telepractice allows therapists to reach students in urban centers where there might be a shortage of support due to overcrowding, or in rural areas that suffer from a lack of available onsite clinicians. Virtual schools can provide speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, and psychoeducational services to students in the homeschool setting. And teletherapy enables therapists to serve young people who may not attend a traditional school because they’re homebound or hospitalized due to illness, injury, or disability—they can participate in therapy from the comfort of their own home as long as they have an internet connection, a computer, and the ability to videoconference.
5. Engage Students with 21st Century Learning
So much of student learning takes place on a digital screen today. Whether they’re looking at smart boards in the classroom, playing games, or making TikTok videos, students are at home in the digital world. The PresenceLearning teletherapy platform engages students with a proprietary, web-based videoconferencing system that includes an option for dual cameras so students can be face-to-face with therapists at all times. Therapists can also easily demonstrate tasks, and watch students’ movements in real-time. With an extensive library of games and a wide range of developmentally appropriate materials, PresenceLearning providers can select content based on students’ individual goals and interests Many. students feel at ease meeting their therapists using familiar 21st century technology and therapists report that their students make great progress because they’re more focused and engaged.
6. Support Students with Moderate and Severe Needs
One of the most common misconceptions about providing special education services via telepractice is that it’s not a successful model for students with more significant needs.
PresenceLearning has a decade of experience providing teletherapy services. Instances when telepractice is not appropriate for an individual student are rare, and it is never the case that an entire group of students should be excluded from teletherapy services based on age, ability, or goal area. With the appropriate onsite support, even students with more severe challenges can thrive with this model of service delivery. PresenceLearning therapists have successfully provided therapy for students in early childhood and preschool settings as well as for students who are non-verbal and require development and support of both low- and high-tech AAC systems.
7. Create Equity And Access
In large urban school districts to far flung rural districts, administrators face significant challenges in finding qualified, state-licensed SLPs, OTs, and school psychologists and social workers. Whether the challenge is onsite therapists faced with unreasonable caseloads due to a mounting need for services, or the unavailability of qualified clinicians due to remote locations, when schools lack the clinicians they need, students are denied the equity and access they deserve and require.
Telepractice provides an innovative solution. A partnership with PresenceLearning can help to address these staff shortages, allowing schools to fulfill student needs and IEP service delivery requirements. For more information about how our school partners and students are benefiting from PresenceLearning’s teletherapy services for speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, and therapy for behavioral and mental health, check out our School Success Stories.
If you’re interested in learning more about what teletherapy has to offer, and in particular what PresenceLearning can do for your school district, schedule a free consultation today and find out what it means to become a PL teletherapy partner. You can take part in an exploratory discussion with one of our school partnership members to find out how our services have helped their school district and special education students