Jessica L., MA, CCC-SLP, has practiced as a speech-language pathologist for 12 years. She joined the PL Care Network in 2020.
How did you connect with PL?
Given I was such a novice, PL has been around the longest and was the most seasoned so I felt like I wanted to learn from the best—the company with the most seniority and the platform and all the resources. I didn’t want to get myself into something that was a hodgepodge that’s just thrown together. I wanted to feel like I was going to be mentored, and feel confident that this is how it should be done.
What do you enjoy about being a provider with PL?
I really enjoy working as a PL provider. I get a sense of fresh air from trying to do different things. I like to challenge myself to find new ways of doing things. For example, I like to think about how to use low tech things in a high tech environment. This past weekend we took our son to the Indian Echo Caverns. I know a lot of kids are into Minecraft. I put together a little iMovie trailer with my pictures from the weekend and put in funny Minecraft things and gifs. It engages that conversation of how you can use things about yourself during therapy. I find that really interesting. The kids are responding really well to the different materials when I use the document camera, or any of the tons of things on the platform, or Screenshare and SiteShare. When I plan my sessions, there are so many things I can do. I ask myself how can I put in just 30 minutes when there’s so much I want to do. The freshness of it is really exciting.
What age range/student population are you currently serving? Please include demographic information.
I’m currently working with students in Kindergarten to 12th grade.
What advice would you give districts considering online therapy?
A lot of districts tend to get providers who are new to the field. I think a lot of the PL practitioners are more mid career professionals. They’re very seasoned and have seen a lot of disorders. I think PL attracts that kind of professional. As a mid career professional myself, I’ve worked in a lot of different settings so I’m not going to be intimidated by whatever I’m given.
As I was making my career transition to teletherapy, I knew it is something I want to do long term. In the climate that we are in right now, if you want to continue having access to therapy, teletherapy is the way to provide the most consistency for students to make progress. With teletherapy, you can make sure that kids are continuing in quality therapy with seasoned professionals, and they have the necessary resources and tools rather than using some hodge podge of tools and settings in which you’re going back and forth and losing critical time.
You have to think about the kind of learners that we are promoting. It is the wave of the future. The workplace is changing and the way we do business is changing so teletherapy is getting students used to the changes that will probably be long term.
When you are working with students, especially students with special needs, building rapport can take a while. You have to earn the students’ trust. They have to trust you, and, on some level, like you and want to be there. If you have that, you will get their attendance and you will get their family on board because a lot of times the kids are the ones that remind their parents when they have therapy because they want to go to therapy. That’s what you want.
When you have consistency, you can orchestrate how the therapy should progress. Keeping this relationship regular with the parents and students leads to the buy-in you need. When they know you’re going to be there each week and that you like their kids, you get the buy-in from parents. Especially when you have kids with high level needs, it requires seeing where the baseline is, slowly upping the ante, sowing the seeds for improvement, working on the goals, especially in severe and profound cases. The consistency you can provide brings the glimmers of hope and change. If they have good attendance, they are seeing that the therapy is making a difference. They’re seeing progress.
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