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Life as a Teletherapist - The Good. The Bad(ish). The Unexpected.

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Life as a Teletherapist. 
The Good. The Bad(ish). The Unexpected.

As with all jobs and careers, working from home as a teletherapist comes with its ups, its downs, and those surprising moments that catch you off guard and put your experience and expertise to the test. But, when it’s all said and done, the best thing about life as a teletherapist is that it matters.

The Ups.
Increased student participation and engagement.  Students are intrigued by the fact that they receive therapy services via computer.  How cool is that?!  This service delivery model has the ability to lend itself to greater participation and engagement during therapy. A win-win for all involved!

Individualized services.  In most cases you are able to deliver therapy to one or two students at a time.  Isn’t that what we dreamed of while working in a brick and mortar school?  Being able to provide individualized services to one to two students at a time can essentially lead to faster progress and less time in speech-language therapy.  

Strengthened relationships with students.  Along with a small class size we’re able to really talk to our students to discover their likes, dislikes, and background. In turn, this helps us to provide better therapy.  If I know that my student adores superheroes, you better believe we’re going to incorporate that interest into therapy.
{We know what they say, what goes up, sometimes, must come down}

The Downs.
Technology holdups. You may run into some issues due to lack of resources where a school can only provide one computer, laptop or tablet to be shared among several teachers. Or, sometimes, there might be only one pair of headphones that a student can properly wear. If this does happen, immediately reach out to your support team so the conversations regarding the importance of proper equipment for their students can be had with the school. Perhaps the school can find the extra money in their budget to provide adequate support.  Also, a better rotation schedule can be implemented to ensure resources for all when needed.  You never know what can be accomplished just by having the appropriate conversations!

Space holdups. Sometimes an appropriate quiet space for the students and facilitator to meet for speech therapy is not available.  If your students are in a classroom with ongoing teaching in the background, it can be difficult to hear your student or for your student to hear you during therapy, even while using headphones.  This could very well lead to slower progress or no progress being made with your students, but, there is a way to overcome this. As mentioned above, reach out to your team. Let your facilitator know what's happening. Many times facilitators and others present in a classroom erroneously think that since the student has headphones on and they can't hear you (SLP) during therapy, then you can't hear them.  Sometimes just a gentle reminder that you can hear everything in the room helps to decrease the background noise.  If your students are older and more responsible, perhaps they can be moved into a quiet hallway, still in line of sight of the facilitator, to receive services.  Don't just struggle through this issue; work to find a solution that works for you, your students and your facilitator.

The Unexpected.
Sometimes, things come up that you can’t prepare for. Here are a few of the moments that allowed me to work my own adaptability magic.

Unintentional eavesdropping.  This is particularly true when your student is provided speech-language services in a busy SPED classroom. I have overheard personal conversations and heard more snacks being eaten than I care to. Usually, a polite email to the facilitator reminding them that you can hear EVERYTHING in the room minimizes the unnecessary (and unwanted) conversations.

The cleavage.  You read that right, the cleavage.  Sometimes your female facilitator doesn’t realize that when she is standing in front of the computer and leans over to talk to you, you get an eyeful.  Just avert your eyes :).

The rewards.  I knew that I would find my work as a teletherapist satisfying, but the rewarding feeling I get when I realize that I am able to provide students with the needed therapy that they might not otherwise receive is the best feeling imaginable.  

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