Online Occupational Therapy: How Does it Work?
Raise your hand if your heart warms and stretches when you know you have improved a child’s life. What a joyful purpose to serve.
Therapists are self-driven to influence the quality of children’s lives. Because we advocate for communities that do not have equal access to quality therapy services, speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists around the world have joined our online therapy team so that they can experience the joy that grows from improving the life of a child. What is the point of online occupational therapy and how does it work?
Online Occupational Therapy – What is the Point?
Besides helping children develop their skills and unlock their potential, our online services provide our occupational therapists with a platform for remaining present, accessible and effective in our schools. Assessments, consultation, direct therapy, observation, supervision and parent support are just a few of the ways we contribute value to our customers. Regardless of the type of delivery, online occupational therapists remain accountable for our students’ experience and outcomes.
For more details, visit our blog entitled, Occupational Therapy: What it is and What it is Not
Online Occupational Therapy – How does it Work?
First, imagine yourself as a service provider who is physically at your school. How do your services work? In the best interest of the students, you likely have a system that provides clarity, accountabilities, and action plans for service delivery processes. We do, too. Our differentiator is that our presence in online. Below are six other considerations for driving success through online occupational therapy services:
1. Connection – How are the Roads?
Ensure you have a quality, secure internet connection to the school. Have a support plan in place, which includes people who can help you improve the connection. Your connection is comparable to a highway. More lanes and less cars on the trip mean a faster trip for you. Our technical support team manages connections so our therapists can focus on services. In the meantime, start your scheduling when computer labs are not in use.
2. Presence – Where will you Park?
TinyEYE therapists are present in many ways for students and educators. The top three places we appear include: computers, Smart Boards, and robots. Beyond the school’s therapy room, we have access to our students across their educational environment so we can observe, team teach, and celebrate. What is your service goal for your student? How do you plan to influence change and confirm progress? Asking yourself these questions will guide your plan.
3. System – What will you Drive?
To have a presence, you need a system. TinyEYE created an online therapy platform that provides therapists with their tools for quality services from planning, to delivery, to home connections. Today, professionals have access to many multi-media options for their online system. Starting with the end in mind and clarifying how you hope to interact with staff and students will help you to select your online system and related equipment. In addition to driving our robots, occupational therapists increase their mobility when the school uses remote or movement tracking web cameras. We can join students for lunch and seat work!
4. Shared Tools – Help your Students Take the Wheel
Occupational therapists are exceptional with creating and supplying tools that improve students’ participation in activities of daily life. Furthermore, online therapists are committed to leading engaging and rewarding programs for our students. Consequently, we ensure our schools have access to student specific tools (online and tangible) for therapy and class participation. What can you incorporate to drive student outcomes?
5. Partnership – Back Seat Driving is Essential
So far you have a connection, a presence, a system, and shared tools. To leverage your impact on a students’ life, build relationships with others invested in the program. First, clarify your purpose for each student and align yourself with others involved in the students’ programs. Some students will have more direct therapy time with you, while others will benefit from the consultation you provide. Key people to consider for a partnership include an ehelper who brings the students to sessions, an educational assistant who helps to carry over the program beyond therapy sessions, a teacher who strives to incorporate strategies into the classroom, a special education teacher who provides clarity about service parameters and advocates for supports, and parents who count on us to make a difference. We are accountable for driving outcomes – we are committed to finding the way.
6. Time with Students – The Reason you Made the Trip
When occupational therapists consider online service, they often find themselves exploring a series of questions. How will I work with the child? How will I know what they are doing? How can I help them if I cannot physically support them? Please continue to ask these questions because questions lead to solutions. Remember, you have connection, presence, system, shared tools, partnerships…and you. Believe in your ability to influence change. Believe in your purpose to engage children in their lives.
If you were to start your direct therapy services tomorrow, communicate with your ehelper about how to best contribute to the session. Lead with gratitude. Three starting points that the ehelper can manage include the following:
- Ensure the student (or target space) is always framed within the video screen, even when activities require movement around the room. Be in charge of web camera placement.
- Manage distribution of tangible tools that you plan to incorporate. Present tools as and when requested.
- Apply verbal and physical prompts as previously planned.