Last month we looked at a small school district in California that is one of many across the country that cannot afford a staff speech language pathologist, and must use a telepractice service to fill the gap.
This month the Waco Tribune-Herald is reporting similar goings-on in Texas.
The Waco Independent School District is planning to transition 28% of its students (150 kids) who require speech therapy to an online service instead of live therapists. The students were chosen based on their ability to self-regulate (not run screaming into the wilderness) and their goals in speech therapy.
“Speech teletherapy is not recommended for everyone, but in certain cases, it can provide comparable outcomes to in-person speech therapy, University of Texas at Austin Communication Sciences and Disorders department chair Rajinder Koul.”
Again, lack of qualified staff willing to work for school district salaries was cited as the root issue. The article stated, “Currently, the district employs six full-time speech pathologists and three full-time speech pathologist assistants to provide services for 536 students, but three open speech pathologist positions remain unfilled…We are aware that there is a shortage of qualified candidates in both Texas and nationwide. As a result, we feel a sense of urgency to identify other ways to provide high-quality services in order to make sure that any break in therapy is as short as possible.”
“Most students receiving online speech therapy will do so at a computer “learning center” in the student’s classroom under the supervision of the regular classroom teacher.”
Unfortunately, the district didn’t do a great job of notifying parents, and many of them found out about the change from a newspaper article. The district had invited all interested parties to a Q&A session and was not going to start the teletherapy sessions until everyone had been informed.
The district continues to try and fill its vacant SLP positions, but until that happens, the teletherapy solution seems to be gaining ground across the country.
If you’re interested in taking continuing education courses to learn how become qualified as a teletherapy speech language therapist, please visit CEU Market.