The Benefits of Online Speech Therapy: An Interview with Jeremy Glauser of Visual Speech Therapy
Yesterday, we discussed a speech therapy technique that has recently been gaining more mainstream attention amongst speech-language pathologists (SLPs): online speech therapy. If that caught your attention, you won’t want to miss today’s interview with Jeremy Glauser of Visual Speech Therapy (VST), a telepractice service. Jeremy is passionate about helping children with speech disorders excel in life. To that end, Visual Speech Therapy offers real-time, face-to-face online speech therapy sessions with qualified SLPs via their specialized software system. VST speech therapists are highly qualified to train clients in the use of Speech Buddies to accelerate articulation progress. Visual Speech Therapy is dedicated to providing customized, effective speech therapy to clients. Below, check out Jeremy’s discussion of the ways that telepractice can benefit your child.
SB: You have a proven track record of growing companies, such as Visual Speech Therapy, that aim to improve quality of life. How did you become involved in speech therapy?
JG: My love for speech and language stems from a speech disorder my close cousin had when we were kids. I remember him going to speech therapy for the /r/ sound and it interested my little mind. Since then I’ve studied linguistics at Brigham Young University and discovered that there are avenues I could take with that background to help people. I also received a degree in Business Administration.
I am so fortunate to find a way to apply my passion to help people. Since I’ve been in the business world I’ve helped develop several assistive devices for speech and language therapy. Just a few years ago my partners and I sold a business which developed an electropalatography device (EPG maps tongue movement). We knew this new owner had the contacts and resources to take the device to more children than we could on our own. Since that time, I’ve rallied certified SLPs and software engineers to develop an online speech therapy solution that brings more services to more kids around the world. When we started Visual Speech Therapy two years ago, we knew Speech Buddies would be key in helping children progress faster. These types of technologies need to reach more people and online speech therapy makes that possible.
SB: Online learning is still relatively new on the speech therapy scene. Can you tell our readers a bit about some of the benefits of telepractice?
JG: Yes, absolutely. Telepractice is backed by over 40 years of research, approved by ASHA, and more than 27 studies and articles show it is as effective as in-person therapy. Now, this isn’t the case for every child or adult, but it is true in many, many cases. Telepractice is also called “online speech therapy” (in less technical terms) and includes video conferencing, interactive activities, assessments, progress tracking, and more through a private and secure virtual classroom. You sit at your computer at home while you meet with a certified therapist over the Internet.
It’s incredibly important that HIPAA (privacy compliance) is vigorously protected and software is encrypted so that client information is confidential. Skype is not an appropriate medium for online speech therapy, but there are a few custom solutions out there. Visual Speech Therapy is obviously one of them. There are many benefits of telepractice and some include no required travel, available specialists, engaging and interactive fun, more parental involvement, and better reinforcement. Additional benefits for schools include no SLP shortages, no recruitment or relocation of SLPs because VST can connect an SLP anywhere in the country with a student anywhere in the world, and scheduling is much easier when we leverage time zone differences.
SB: Walk us through a typical speech therapy session for a child with an articulation disorder. What can the client expect, and how do you keep the child engaged in the session when the speech therapist isn’t physically in the room with him?
JG: The client logs in to their account with Visual Speech Therapy to check any progress updates, and then launches the virtual classroom just before the session begins. You’ll make sure you start up your webcam and put on your headset so the video and audio are crisp and clear. You and your therapist may chat about the day and anything fun that has taken place since the previous session, and then your certified Visual Speech Therapist will follow up on any homework you were assigned the previous session. Of course you did your homework, so you’d move into some exercises and a lesson prepared by your SLP.
The lesson could consist of interactive worksheets, interactive games, Mad Libs, word webs, hangman, and practice with and without Speech Buddies. Every lesson is tailored to the student’s needs, and goals from the initial evaluation or Individualized Education Program (IEP) always guide careful lesson planning.
SB: Visual Speech Therapy is the first telepractice service to offer the use of Speech Buddies for articulation. What kind of progress have you seen in the typical child with the use of Speech Buddies?
JG: The picture in this post shows Lauren, who worked with a Visual Speech Therapist and used Speech Buddies. She’s 12 years old, and after two and half months of therapy with Speech Buddies, she graduated from therapy. There are many factors that influence progress and every student is different, but Speech Buddies are very effective when helping a student learn proper sound production faster.
SB: Are kids typically receptive to the use of Speech Buddies as a speech therapy technique?
It depends on the age, but the answer to this is yes. Most kids think they’re very fun and it’s another great way our SLPs keep the student’s attention during therapy.
SB: How does Visual Speech Therapy involve parents and schools in online speech therapy?
JG: In many cases, online speech therapy sessions take place at home, and research shows that this has many positive effects. Students learn faster in their natural learning environment and parents can participate in sessions, so after the sessions are over parents know exactly what to reinforce in day-to-day speech and language.
Schools also hire VST to provide services to their families. Virtual Schools generally have us work with students right in their homes, but traditional schools set up a speech station where students go for their sessions with a Visual Speech Therapist. Schools have found this to be a great solution when they can’t find an SLP to help their students, when convincing an SLP to relocate is unsuccessful, or even when the school needs help meeting a growing demand for therapy. Visual Speech Therapy specializes in bringing certified SLP specialists to students wherever they are and whenever they need the help.
SB: Thank you so much, Jeremy, for sharing your expertise about online speech therapy!