Many parents are at home with their children. Some with special needs children. How are we all coping? Are you receiving any support from professionals online or are you figuring this out as you go along?
At AIMS Global we have always included an online element to the support services we offer. There are many reasons for this – we can help more families in various countries and we can be available during different timezones as we are also based in different regions. Another reason is that it suits our parents (clients) to have access to someone online whenever they need support, instead of scheduling an in-person meeting. Due to Covid-19 many of our families have switched over to full online services with a dedicated therapist that Zooms / Skypes into sessions conducted by a “therapy partner”, aka Mom, Dad, both or a nanny. Does this type of support service work?
It’s tricky to answer this as there are some elements that should be taken into consideration here. As mentioned we have been “online” for many years, whereas some service providers are making a radical switch to their services offered from in-person to online within a couple of months. We do believe that it’s an honest effort, but that this shift can’t always be made successfully if a service provider is not used to working online. That said, we are excited about this forced focus on “telehealth” or online services as we have known for a while that it’s the way forward for many families.
Our current families that have switched to online support are doing exceptionally well. Yes, it’s a new way of interacting with your child as we suggest strategies to implement, but it creates opportunities to generalize skills usually taught in therapy to the home environment almost immediately. Parents are also mentioning that they feel more in control of their household by taking charge of these sessions and taking advice from their “dedicated therapist” that is online with them. For some these sessions run as a combination of the therapist doing some lessons and the parent guiding their child as well as some activities where the therapist is merely observing (taking notes) and jumping in when and if needed.
The first thing that usually help with is to create a conducive environment for your child (and you) to work in. I want to share some of the basics that can help in setting the “therapy mood”. Here you go:
- Background music – soft, sounds of nature or classical music without high-pitched sounds playing in the background.
- Pleasant, safe smells that your child does not find it aversive or overwhelming.
- The visual schedule for the session is in place.
- Any visual clutter, extra toys, and items, extra posters on the wall are taken out of the way and packed away.
- There is a comfortable space for you and your child to sit and work at.
- There is a chill space for your child to make use of as needed.
- Appropriate sensory toys are close by.
- Frequent movement breaks are adhered to (use a timer if necessary).
- Your expectations of your child are reasonable.
- Your child knows what is expected of him/her.
- Your child is rewarded/praised for meeting expectations.
- Interest-based activities are considered an integral part of the session.
I can probably write a blog post on each one of these points, but for now, see it as a checklist of important elements to remember when you are with your child.
We understand that it can become overwhelming to create a therapy space within your home and within your busy life, but we are here to help. Let us know if you have any questions – we are more than happy to answer these: firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay safe and healthy,
The AIMS Online team