Updated: Mar 2, 2021
Are you one of those SLPs that dreads articulation therapy? No Tele-SLP should be drowning in drills or bored to death with basic materials. I've been the SLP drowning and I want to save you from the same experience by sharing What TeleSLPs Do Differently for Articulation Remediation.
First, not all headsets are created equal. You'll find that you'll have a harder time correctly interpreting sound productions when you are only using the internal microphone and speakers of your computer. This goes for both you and your student or client. Although not every client has access to a headset, sound quality greatly improves when both SLP and client are wearing a headset. Second, having a headset with a noice-cancelling microphone is a must for me as the SLP. This way, your verbal cues for placement, manner, and voicing will be clearer for the student.
Two words of caution:
Be wary of students using headsets that have microphones placed on dangling wires (i.e., apple ear phones with cords) as sound quality and volume will be inconsistent unless they hold the microphone piece directly to their mouths.
Be sure to remind students with moveable microphones that are attached to the headsets being used that the microphones must be directly beside/in front of their mouths.
It is so important to have visualization of your mouth and the student's mouth when conducting articulation therapy....just as it would be in an in-person speech session. That's why I make a good quality, working video or camera a non-negotiable. Sure, you can make do for a session or two if there's a fixable problem, but often I immediately refer these clients to their tech support on call.
Don't be afraid to state the obvious, like, "Please keep your whole face inside the video box." This serves two purposes: 1) you are able to visualize the sound production to give cues as needed and 2) they can use the mirrored camera as a self-feedback tool. Trust me, they will love watching themselves in the camera, lol!
Although there are a couple ways to give articulation models for your clients, don't forget that YOU, SLP, are the best model! YOU are a live visual and auditory model and that makes a world of difference. This means you'll need to get up close and personal with your computer's camera. However, sometimes it helps to have a couple of other quick tools for models and here are my go-tos:
FREE LIVE STREAMING MODELS
IOWA Sounds of Speech App or Website
RESOURCES WITH VISUALS
If you are unsure how to screen-share your materials, or use a split-screen for materials + visuals, I can help! Just click those links for the instructional blogs.
And now we come to the #1 problem of teletherapy (and of the 2020 social distancing) - physical distance. In Teletherapy, there's no way around the physical distance...you simply aren't able to use your hands for a tactile cue. I'm also a PROMPT-trained clinician from my in-person SLP years and haven't been able to give a physical PROMPT in 4 years. But does that mean we throw tactile cues out of our toolbox? No!
Here's my secret for tactile cues: I teach children how to give themselves the tactile cue. (NOTE: According to PROMPT guidelines, PROMPT trained clinicians cannot train others to give tactile PROMPTs). For instance, for /s/ blends, I'll model in my own video a finger sliding down my arm for the /s/ and a light tap at my wrist for the rest of the /s/ blends word. Then, I'll have the client or parent imitate the tactile cue on the client. What I've found is that teaching these types of tactile cues is empowering to the client and parent and they often times begin cueing themselves without my verbal prompt.
For PROMPT, while you can't give a tactile PROMPT, you can employ the PROMPT philosophy, system and approach, which encompasses so much more than the actual technique. If you'd like to view a video for ideas in implementing PROMPT via teletherapy click the link below:
I hope these ideas for a different approach to articulation remediation help further your clinical skills in the virtual environment. Have more questions? Email or DM on IG and ask away!
-Angela C. Hancock, MSP, CCC-SLP