Teletherapy keeping young brothers goal focused

By Luisa Bustos, 24 April 2020 , Comments

When the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak forced the suspension of her sons’ therapy sessions at school, Yingyu Chen had no hesitation in trialling Northcott’s teletherapy services delivered via Skype. 

“I just wanted the boys to keep on going with therapy because it is very important to keep their routine,” Yingyu said.

Her sons, Andrew (12) and Samuel (13), have a diagnosis of autism and usually access fortnightly individual speech therapy sessions at school with Northcott Therapist Candice Slosu. During school holidays, the boys participate in group therapy at Northcott’s Parramatta office. With visitors no longer allowed at their schools, the boys are continuing their speech therapy at home to ensure they don’t fall behind.

Instead of seeing the boys individually once a fortnight, Candice is running joint speech therapy sessions via Skype twice a week, for a shorter 30-minute period.

“I’ve been able to charge the same amount, but can carry out more sessions because there aren’t any travel costs. The shorter, more frequent sessions have had a very positive impact on the boys’ development,” Candice said.

“The joint sessions allow me to directly support more positive social interactions between the boys. Andrew and Samuel don’t normally play with each other. At home they tend to keep to themselves. During the Skype therapy sessions they are encouraged and supported to engage in conversation and activities together. They are learning how to compromise, help each other and take turns.

“The focus is to engage Andrew and Samuel in activities which directly and indirectly enhance their language and social skills. In a Skype session, I will ask the boys to do activities or play games which target language skills, such as guessing games – where they describe things – and ask or answer questions. To work on their social skills we’ll play games, such as movement bingo or origami, that focus on taking turns and following instructions.”

Candice has also mailed tailored therapy activity packs to Andrew and Samuel. The packs contain a variety of activities, games and visual prompts which enhance the therapy sessions.

Yingyu, who also participates in the sessions, is pleased with the progress both Andrew and Samuel are making.

“It’s working very well. The first time to connect was tricky, but the following sessions have been easy and smooth. The communication is good,” she said.

Candice said both boys have adjusted well to the new format and have their favourite activities. Andrew enjoys making paper origami planes, while Samuel looks forward to the guessing games.

Although face-to-face therapy is often the best option, Candice said during this uncertain time it was important for her customers to keep up a routine, where possible, and to continue to work on therapy goals to avoid regression. Teletherapy is a good alternative, where communication skills can continue to be supported, with the added bonus of allowing families to use their available funding before it expires.

Candice added: “Give teletherapy a go! You don’t have anything to lose. A trial session can be arranged and a therapist can help you get Skype set up. Support Workers can also be involved in Skype sessions and we can arrange sessions to train parents and carers, if need be.”

Northcott is continuing to offer Therapy services in a range of settings, with therapists and customers asked to practise social distancing where possible, and follow good hygiene habits. Talk to your therapist about what options are available for you.

Related content

Stay updated with how Northcott’s Therapy services are operating during COVID-19.

Not sure what Northcott is offering online or via telehealth? We explain our options here.




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