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How Schools Can Use Teletherapy to Provide Therapy and Services in IEPs
by Pam and Pete Wright

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"My child has Autism Spectrum Disorder. His IEP provides speech language therapy, occupational therapy and one-on-one instructional time in a self contained classroom.


portrait of serious woman

"When the school closed in March, his teachers said it is impossible to deliver speech therapy and OT virtually. I believed them."

"We are entering the fourth month without the school providing the services he needs. There is a 'window of opportunity' for him to learn these skills. He cannot afford to wait. We need help now."

You and your child should not have to wait.

Parents and school staff need to know that speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and behavioral health -- even speech-language and pyscho-educational evaluations -- are provided virtually.

Teletherapy has provided these services to children with disabilities for years.

After Schools Closed . . . What Happened?

After schools closed, parents like you received packets of worksheets. Most parents report having minimal contact with their child's special ed teachers and even less contact wit their child's therapists. As weeks turned into months, it became clear that domr schools were unable to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to their students with disabilities.

Each child who receives special education has an IEP that describes the child's levels of performance, needs and the educational services the school will provide. Many children's IEPs include related services -- speech language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, behavioral therapy, tutoring, counseling, etc. Some school districts advised parents that "these services cannot be provided virtually."

This is not true.

School districts can contract with teletherapy companies to provide the speech language, physical therapy, occupational therapy children with disabilities need to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) as set forth in their IEPs.

Wrightslaw Note: This article contains dozens of hyperlinks. When you print this article, the hyperlinks will not show up. You will find a list of all hyperlinks at the end of this article.

What is Teletherapy?

Teletherapy is "the online delivery of speech, occupational, and mental health therapy services via high-resolution, live video conferencing." (Source: What is Teletherapy? (A Helpful and Definitive Guide))

Let's look at how teletherapists provide therapy to children with disabilities. How does this work?

Teletherapy sessions are similar to traditional speech, occupational therapy, and mental health sessions except that the student and therapist interact by live video conferencing.

During a speech, occupational therapy or mental health session, the student and therapist use webcams, headsets and an online learning environment to see, hear, and interact with each other.

Many teletherapy companies contract with licensed clinicians who provide speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and other health services to school districts. Webinars demonstrate how teletherapy works and how teletherapy can help solve school districts' problems when they cannot provide the necessary related services to their students with IEPs.

Professional Organization Statements & Recommendations: Telehealth / Teletherapy

Professional organizations have issued statements and position papers that support schools' use of teletherapy services to provide these services to children with disabilities during the COVID-19 shutdown.

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)

Telepractice Information ASHA defines "telepractice" as the application of telecommunications technology to the delivery of speech language pathology and audiology professional services at a distance by linking clinician to client (or clinician to clinician) for assessment, intervention, and/or consultation.

Telepractice Resources During COVID-19

Telepractice in Schools: What Works Best? School telepractice experts shared their experience using different models and providers in a recent ASHA online chat.

American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)

Information Pertaining to Occupational Therapy in the Era of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Telehealth Resources and professional guidance for telepractice and occupational therapy

American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) APTA has been a long-time advocate for PTs and PTAs providing services via telehealth.

Use of telehealth to provide physical therapy services from APTA

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources for the Physical Therapy Profession

COVID-19 and Practice Guidance

National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)

Considerations for Delivery of School Psychological Telehealth Services

Virtual Service Delivery in Response to COVID-19 Disruptions

American Psychological Association (APA)

Research on the efficacy of telepractice and mental health services

Teletherapy: Speech Language, OT, PT, Teachers, Tutors, Psychologists and More

A speech-language pathologist described changes in the landscape for related service providers. "Over the past few years, a number of new companies provide teletherapy services to students. Some SLPs own small businesses and have contracts with local schools."

Teletherapy companies at the most recent ASHA conference conference included:

Presence Learning provides live, online special education services to K-12 students via secure interactive video. Services include speech language therapy, occupational therapy, behavioral mental health, psycho-educational assessments, and early childhood services. SLPs are licensed, have ASHA CCCs, and a minimum of one year of experience in a school setting. They administer assessments, write evaluations, prepare IEP goals, attend IEP meetings, track progress, act as case managers, and communicate with parents and staff.

VocoVision offers remote services so children can access specialized therapy and education services with telepractice technology. Providers include speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, sign-language interpreters, teachers of the visually-impaired, teachers of the deaf/hard of hearing, school psychologists, social workers, and a foreign language matching service.

EBS Healthcare provides services by behavior and ABA therapists, speech-language pathologists, audiologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, school psychologists, school nurses, social workers, special education teachers, teachers for the deaf and hard of hearing, teachers of the visually impaired.

Global Teletherapy provides teletherapy speech, mental health & occupational therapy services.

AmplioSpeech integrates artificial intelligence (AI) to treat students with speech-language problems. (See Note about the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and AmplioSpeech below.)

E-Therapy offers speech therapy, social work, counseling, occupational therapy, physical therapy, assessments & diagnostics.

eLuma Online Therapy Services offers online speech therapy, school psychology, counseling, mental health services, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and assessments.

TinyEYE offers online speech-language pathology and occupational therapy and private online speech & occupational therapy.

Note: How One State is Working to Solve a Special Ed Learning Challenge.

"On May 6, 2020, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) announced that its partnership with AmplioSpeech," a provider of speech pathology technology, has reached 10,000 Texas students with special education needs."

"Among the greatest challenge that schools have faced is finding the most effective way to serve students with special education needs when classroom learning is not an option. TEA's partnership with AmplioSpeech greatly aids such efforts. The platform allows licensed Speech-Language Pathologists to interact remotely with students to provide speech therapy required by the student's special education individual education program."

"TEA made the tool available for free for school systems who signed up to enroll the first 10,000 students in the service. Within 24 hours, more than 100 school systems had signed up. Hundreds of trained SLPs are enlisted to provide students with a range of speech-language services." Full text of this article.

Other Resources

What Khan Academy's Founder Wants You to Know About Online Learning - Sal Khan shares insights on education during the coronavirus pandemic and the future of learning. (webinar)

K-12 COVID-19 SLP Response Plan from Ampliospeech - Free training for SLP staff on online digital therapy, including hands-on training; free training for sped admin staff on using online dashboards and retrieving documentation; a safety net of licensed and trained SLPs.(includes a short video).

CEC/eLuma Webinar: Teaching Special Education Online During COVID-19

Wrightslaw Note: We spent hours on research about teletherapy for this article. The resources cited represent a fraction of what is available. When you search, you will find more excellent information about teletherapy / telehealth programs. You will learn that your child's school district can contract with a telehealth / teletherapy group to provide the related services in your child's IEP.

How to Request That the School Provide Instructional and Therapy Services in Your Child's IEP

Before you request that the school provide therapy and other services in your child's IEP, you must educate yourself.

Assume that your child's school may be reluctant to do anything new. Read Chapter 21 - "Rules of Adverse Assumptions" in Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy by Pam and Pete Wright.

Before you write a letter to request these services, please read and re-read Chapter 23 about "How to Write Good Evidence Letters" (includes 6 sample letters) and Chapter 24 about "Writing a Letter to the Stranger" (includes 10 sample letters) in Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy.

Wrightslaw Note: Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy is available as a print book and in e-book formats in the Wrightslaw Store.

Print Book: $19.95

Combo: Print Book + PDF Download: $29.95

Digital Editions - Kindle and ePub: Text-to-speech enabled

Kindle edition: $12.95

ePub edition: $12.95 (for iPad)

PDF edition: $12.95

You can request that your school district arrange for school staff to provide your child's instruction and therapy services virtually. If school staff are unavailable or are not trained to do virtual instruction and therapy, you can request that the school provide these services through teletherapy.

To request that the school begin providing the instructional and therapy services in your child's IEP, you need to write a polite letter that describes what has happened to your child since school closed and the impact school closure has had. Include facts that support your contention that the school is not providing an appropriate education and that the lack of instruction and therapy services is causing your child to regress and is damaging your child. Your letter needs to be based on facts, not emotions.

One of your goals is to protect your relationship with your child's school.

New Sample Letter to Document a Problem and Request Services in the IEP

You may want to use our new Sample Letter to Document a Problem and Request That School Provide Services in the IEP. Change the facts to reflect your situation.

Send an email with your formal, professional letter as a PDF attachment to your school district superintendant, special education director and school principal. That same day, send a print copy of your letter by U.S. mail to these same individuals. Be sure to keep a copy for your child's record.

Please keep us posted.

*******************************************

List of Hyperlinks in this Article

What is Teletherapy? A Helpful and Definitive Guide is at https://globalteletherapy.com/what-is-teletherapy/

Professional Organization Statements & Recommendations: Telehealth / Teletherapy

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)

Telepractice Information is at https://www.asha.org/Practice-Portal/Professional-Issues/Telepractice/

Telepractice Resources During COVID-19 is at https://www.asha.org/About/Telepractice-Resources-During-COVID-19/

American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)

Information Pertaining to Occupational Therapy in the Era of Coronavirus (COVID-19)is at https://www.aota.org/Practice/Health-Wellness/COVID19.aspx

Telehealth Resources and professional guidance for telepractice and occupational therapy is at https://www.aota.org/Practice/Manage/telehealth.aspx

American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)

Use of telepractice to provide physical therapy services from APTAis at http://www.apta.org/Telehealth/

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources for the Physical Therapy Profession is at http://www.apta.org/Coronavirus/

COVID-19 and Practice Guidance is at http://www.apta.org/PTinMotion/News/2020/03/31/WhereThingsStandPracticeGuidance/

National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)

Considerations for Delivery of School Psychological Telehealth Services is at https://www.nasponline.org/x39099.xml

Virtual Service Delivery in Response to COVID-19 Disruptions is at https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources-and-podcasts/school-climate-safety-and-crisis/health-crisis-resources/virtual-service-delivery-in-response-to-covid-19-disruptions

American Psychological Association (APA)

Research on the efficacy of telepractice and mental health services is at https://www.apaservices.org/practice/ce/expert/telehealth-practice-psychology?_ga=2.45559908.1376769332.1553009360-1463834170.1553009360

Teletherapy Companies Mentioned in the Article

Note: With so many articles and websites listed below, it is prossible that they will change a URL for an article and you may have to search and dig for it later.

Presence Learning is at https://www.presencelearning.com/

VocoVision is at https://www.vocovision.com/

EBS Healthcare is at https://ebshealthcare.com/

Global Teletherapy is at https://globalteletherapy.com/

AmplioSpeech is at https://www.ampliospeech.com/

E-Therapy is at https://www.electronic-therapy.com/

eLuma Online Therapy Services is at https://www.elumatherapy.com/is at https://www.elumatherapy.com/

TinyEYE is at https://info.tinyeye.com/

Note: How One State is Working to Solve a Special Ed Learning Challenge is at https://tea.texas.gov/about-tea/news-and-multimedia/news-releases/news-2020/tea-helps-solve-a-critical-covid-19-special-education-distance-learning-challenge

Other Resources

What Khan Academy's Founder Wants You to Know About Online Learning is at https://www.ewa.org/webinar/what-khan-academys-founder-wants-you-know-about-online-learning

K-12 COVID-19 SLP Response Plan from Ampliospeech is at https://www.ampliospeech.com/k-12-covid-19-contingency-plan/

CEC/eLuma Webinar: Teaching Special Education Online During COVID-19 is at https://www.elumatherapy.com/cec-eluma-webinar-ondemand/

Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy is at https://www.wrightslaw.com/bks/feta2/feta2.htm

The Wrightslaw Store is at https://www.wrightslaw.com/store/index.html

New Sample Letter to Document a Problem and Request That School Provide Services in Child's IEP is at https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/ltr.virus.teletherapy.htm/



Created: 06/08/20
Revised: 06/09/20



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