With the rise of technology, more and more people every day are turning to teletherapy.
The ability to connect with a certified Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) from the comfort of your own home, on your own schedule, provides a degree of convenience and flexibility that can't be found in a traditional practice-based setting. It also allows parents to be more involved in their child’s progress, which can be difficult if therapy is obtained in a school or office environment.
One common question surrounding online speech therapy is whether it’s as effective as traditional methods. Does Teletherapy provide the same level of care and attention? Does evidence demonstrate that online therapy is just as successful as in-person?
Let’s take a look at the research.
Putting Teletherapy to the Test
There has been extensive research conducted on the effectiveness and outcomes of teletherapy for speech-language disorders by both private and public organizations. The results are clear - done properly, teletherapy is a very effective delivery method.
Look no farther than the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), which is the professional, scientific, and credentialing association with over 200,000 members and affiliates, including speech-language pathologists. Based on a strong body of evidence, ASHA has recognized teletherapy as a valid means of service delivery for speech therapy disorders.
Check out their informative YouTube video that covers this very topic.
One of the landmark studies that supports these findings was conducted in 2011 by Kent State University researchers. They compared school students receiving speech language therapy in a traditional setting to those receiving teletherapy. There were two groups of students; the first group received conventional therapy for four months, then teletherapy for four months. The second group did the opposite, first receiving teletherapy then subsequently traditional therapy.
The researchers closely monitored the students. Outcome measures included how much the students progressed and their overall satisfaction from both delivery models.
Overall, the results were conclusive:
“Student progress reports indicated that the children made similar progress during the study whichever treatment method was used. There was no significant difference in GFTA-2 scores (Goldman-Fristoe Test of Articulation) between students in the two treatment groups.”
Note: The Goldman-Fristoe Test of Articulation 2 (GFTA-2) is the most popular articulation test available for individuals from early childhood to adult.
One advantage of teletherapy mentioned in the study was overall satisfaction. Satisfaction surveys indicated that the students and parents overwhelmingly supported the teletherapy service delivery model.
In another study, the Ohio Department of Public Health sought a way to eliminate the shortage of SLPs in the state. One of their initiatives was to fund a pilot on teletherapy for speech language pathology services vs those in a traditional setting.
Study participants were recruited from two elementary buildings in a rural Ohio school district. The school district had assigned one elementary building to be staffed by the teletherapy SLPs, and the second to be staffed by in-person SLPs. Progress was measured using pre- and post-intervention scores on the GFTA-2.
“Following intervention, students in the telehealth group made significant improvement in speech sound production as measured by change in scores on the GFTA-2 (Goldman & Fristoe, 2002). This result is similar to the improvement noted in the traditional side-by-side group.”
Online speech therapy is quickly gaining popularity for a reason: it’s proven to be just as effective as in-person therapy. A driver of success isn’t necessarily the method in which therapy is delivered – but the person delivering it. That’s why finding the right SLP that meets your unique needs is important in helping you or your child overcome speech-language challenges.