Occupational therapist Allison Payton shares how tele-intervention is a fun and safe way to continue therapy services and keep children reaching their goals!
What are the benefits of tele-intervention?
Tele-intervention is great for helping families learn and use therapy strategies in more functional environments, like in the home. For children enrolled in Early Intervention, tele-intervention feels familiar because families are accustomed to having their therapist in the home. The interaction is often centered around supporting parents as they learn strategies for helping their child.
For older children, the benefit is being able to collaborate with caregivers about supporting the child in an environment that is most meaningful to them – their own home! They have all of their own toys and supplies right there, so if we are working on dressing, tooth brushing, or other self-care skills, we can practice right there with their actual stuff!
Regardless of the child’s age, parent coaching is one of the biggest benefits of tele-intervention. We want to give parents and caregivers meaningful tools and strategies they can use at home throughout the week.
What about feeding therapy?
Feeding therapy via tele-intervention is great because the kids get to explore new foods at their own table. When they are sitting in their own kitchen, they are learning feeding skills and strategies where they are most comfortable. I have found that kids make great progress when they have access to all their own foods and dishware.
What are some typical activities that you can do via teleintervention?
It depends on the age of the child. If the child is under three, we know the parents are the most important teacher, so the focus will be on helping parents develop the tools and strategies needed to support development.
For older kids, I often use basic items like paper, crayons/markers, scissors, PlayDough, etc. to work on a variety of skills. We can also use any toys and games that the family has available. I like to use songs and do dance activities to work on engagement, attention, and social interaction.
Is there anything we can use if families don’t have access to a variety of toys or games?
Yes! Here is a quick list of common household items that can be helpful and can be used in play situations for therapy:
- Tweezers (use as small tongs to pick up small objects)
- Self-care supplies and materials (toothbrush, hairbrush, etc.)
- Muffin tins or ice cube trays
- Any toys for pretend play
- Food items or tubs for water for sensory bins
What age do you have to be to do a tele-intervention session?
Any age! A screen can be very engaging and motivating for all ages.
Do the parents/caregivers have to be there the whole time for the tele-intervention sessions?
Parents or caregivers must be involved if the child is very young, but even with older children, we encourage their involvement in order to gain the full benefit of the session. This is how we approach in-person therapy sessions as well.
If the child is older and can independently sit and attend to a session, then the parent does not have to be present the whole time. However, it is important that the parent/caregiver of an older child is present at the beginning and the end of the session so that therapist can update them on how the session went, get any updates from the family, and give home program strategies. If the child needs more support to attend and engage, then parent/caregiver involvement is very beneficial for therapeutic value.
What does a typical session look like?
The length of the session varies but are typically 30-60 minutes long. Depending on the child’s age and goals, the sessions are a mix of movement activities, activities at a table (crafts, games, books, etc.) and collaboration discussions with parents/caregivers. Some days the kids need more movement breaks than others, and we can do that through animals walks, yoga, jumping, or other movements that are helpful for the child and accessible in their environment. If more structured activities are not appropriate for the child, then more unstructured play may be more beneficial. In that case, the therapist and caregiver work together to facilitate higher level skills through play including social, play development, fine motor, gross motor, and communication.
Are you interested in exploring tele-intervention for your child? Contact your child’s therapist or call us at 253-854-5660.