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An OT’s Experience with Virtual Therapy and Helpful Tips on Getting Started

With COVID-19 numbers increasing, some schools have now transitioned to full-time remote learning. That means your child will learn through a virtual format in your home. If your child is a new preschool student or you have never had to navigate online learning before, then you may be overwhelmed. I can empathize because In March 2020, I was thrown into virtual therapy without training. Before then, I was a school-based occupational therapist who sat next to my students each session. Fast forward eight months and countless Zoom sessions, and I have learned so much. In this blog I will share a little bit about my experience and provide you with some helpful tips to prepare you and your child for their virtual therapy sessions!

I have learned that each session is unique and I feel successful when I can get the student to attend to the tasks and make progress towards their goals. I have always been the type to thrive off of preparation, so each week, prior to a session, I email my families with their Zoom link and a list of items needed for our session. This gives each family time to prepare. If they do not have an item, they just email me back and I readjust the plans.  I have found that parents appreciate the advanced notice and it allows me to maximize  minutes during a session. If I had students gather materials during the session, it  would waste time, and treatment  would not be as effective.

If you are on the parent side of the screen, you may be wondering what you need to prepare for these virtual therapy sessions. Let’s start with the technology. I am not a technology genius, but I recommend having the basics:

  • Well–lit space 
  • Portable device connected to the internet (phone, laptop, tablet)
  • Portable device sitting on a sturdy surface (tripod, table, phone propped up)
  • Device with video settings (Camera/Web Camera)
  • Speakers
  • Microphone

All of these features will allow you, your child, and therapist to communicate and provide each other with critical feedback during the session. This feedback is important because the therapist is unable to provide physical prompting during the session. They are also unable to see the whole environment, such as sitting postures, the table, chair, or environmental distractions. Therefore, the therapist relies heavily on parents/caregivers to be their eyes and hands during each session. I find the parent/caregiver support very beneficial because there is now family training built into each session. How amazing – to provide them with strategies in real time! This educational piece is very important since the true magic of therapy occurs when the adult and child incorporate these prompts and activities into their daily routine. This is when you will see the child’s skills begin to carry over from the therapy setting into their natural environment. 

Your therapist may suggest that you  build a toolbox that will contain materials that are commonly used during sessions. Depending on which therapies your child receives, their toolbox will differ. For example, if your child has physical therapy, then they will need an open area to move around in, balls, steps and possibly balance beams. If they receive occupational therapy, they may need an open area, as well as a table and chair to complete fine motor tasks.  Below are some items I recommend my families keep nearby for occupational therapy. Of course, a lot of students like to explore and play with the toolbox outside of therapy (which I highly recommend).  

  • Dough
  • Coins and Coin Bank
  • Beads and String
  • Scissors
  • Writing and Coloring Utensils
  • Blocks
  • Dry Erase Boards/ Dry Erase Markers
  • Stickers
  • Construction Paper
  • Pom-Poms or Cotton Balls
  • Play balls

If a family does not have an item, there’s no need to go out and spend money. Instead, we can use other common household items to complete fine motor tasks. For example, if a family does not have lacing cards, then we make one using a cereal box, hole punch, and shoe string. This works out great because the child gets to make a craft that he/she is proud of. The hole punch works on hand strengthening, while the lacing motion addresses fine motor and bilateral coordination skills. I call that a win-win! 

With all of the stress going on in the world, I think we need some small victories! If you are just starting therapy and have questions on how to create a toolbox, then I would recommend talking with your therapist. Talking with them will allow you to create an effective and unique toolbox that is catered to your child’s individualized needs!

-Brittany Stout, OTR/L

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Patient Reviews

Crystal Scheibe

Great place, glad we found them. Been going to Medina over 2 months now and he loves Lauryn and Kyler. Wish they had more ABA therapy places available... live in Wooster and long drive everyday.

Karrie Swan LaRock

My 11 year old son has dyslexia and has made noticeable gains in working At LLA THERAPY. Katie is strong in her approach toward him and also keeps him comfortable enough to perform well. We will continue visiting both the Fairlawn and Hudson offices and recommend them highly.

Ron Monroe

My 9 year old just completed about 9 months of weekly speech sessions (due to his stuttering) with Matt Hagge at LLA and we are thrilled with the experience and results. What I thought might be a negative (what kid really wants to go to speech class?) was made very positive by Matt, and my son never hesitated or complained when we talked about class. He really enjoyed it and really took what Matt taught him to heart. His speech has been greatly improved and we definitely recommend LLA. Thank you so much!

Heather Dougherty-Pantoja

My son’s Occupational Therapist, Jess, is an amazing OT! She gives practical tips on working with my son at home and school!

Terri Apgar

I cannot say enough good things about LLA Therapy. My daughter was a client of Teal Simmons’ for approximately 2 years and was just released from speech therapy! She was diagnosed with Apraxia in 2015 and worked with Teal twice a week. Through Teal’s application of PROMPT therapy, my daughter had age-appropriate speech after one year. All of the staff we interacted with at LLA were absolutely wonderful. They really care about what they do and making sure your child achieves their goals.

Kelli Geisler Davisson

LLA Therapy has been an excellent experience for my son as well as my family! My son always asks, "When can I go see Ms. Jeannine again, is it Monday??" He has also made huge gains in only 5 months! I would highly recommend LLA and have already shared my experience with friends looking for services!

Victoria Hansford-Price

We are so grateful for our Speech Therapist Ms.Teal. We have seen a great improvement with our sons confidence and communication abilities since we have started "Prompt" therapy. What we love the most about LLA and Ms. Teal is that Kohl feels comfortable and relaxed which has played a critical role in his progress. Thank you Ms. Teal for all you have done.

Laura Lee Hogsett

They have helped in numerous ways. Speech, OT and behavioral. I've had numerous compliments on my son's progress thanks in very large part to LLA. I would recommend LLA before I recommend our local children's hospitals, though they are good, they don't have the staff that LLA does.

Amy Furukawa

We had a great experience with Matt Hagge at LLA! Our Middle School age son was becoming very conscious of his voice, which is nasal due to a cleft palate. Matt helped him to better form his sounds and project his voice in a way that makes the unavoidable nasality less noticeable.Our son is more confident and outgoing & even took on a speaking role in the church play. Matt has the perfect personality to relate with our son, and we would recommend him to anyone needing speech therapy services!

Jessica Havalotti

LLA Therapy has been an excellent experience for our daughter. I would highly recommend LLA. Miss Grace was so amazing and I can't believe how quickly our daughter showed improvement. Thank you!
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