Social distancing therapy options – Online Therapy

by Kelly MacKean

Self-isolating? Social distancing? Concerned about the impact of all this isolation on your child’s development?

In this time of uncertainty, it is hard to know how to go about normalising our day to day lives and that of our kids. In an inconsistent world where hoarding toilet rolls and pasta seem to be social norm. It is so important to try and maintain some semblance of routine. Children love their lives to be consistent (even if they don’t know it!) so providing them with this consistency is super important in our current environment.

How Can Smart Talk Help?

1-1-1-300x300 Social distancing therapy options - Online Therapy


At the moment we are living In a world where there is not too much we are in control of and the rules and routines we have lived by so far, are being changed by the day. So what can we do? Smart Talk is wanting to assist in any way we can, we want to stay connected, we want to stay positive and we want our clients to continue to learn and grow with all the opportunities we love to provide within the therapy room. We are pleased to announce that Smart Talk is continuing to roll out our new online therapy initiative to help service the community in these testing times.

So what is online therapy?

4-1-1-300x300 Social distancing therapy options - Online Therapy

Online therapy is a video conference or skype styled video conversation designed to provide and exchange health support and information over a distance. Online therapy is also referred to as Telehealth, to Teletherapy, virtual therapy and online therapy. Usually Telehealth is used for the delivery of these services to people that live within a rural setting. What this means for us in our isolated, social distancing world, is that we can use this amazing facility to provide a number of services straight to the comfort and safety of your home.

Smart Talk will be offering different kinds of telehealth services. If you are looking for some weekly resources, additional homework and guidance, then we have weekly 20-minute check in services available. Each week, you will be sent resources that target and develop your child’s speech comprehension, vocabulary and sentence structure and literacy. The 20 minute check in via Zoom will allow the therapist to guide you through these activities and provide additional support as required. Plus it is a great opportunity for parents to observe the type of scaffolding and support we offer our youngsters. The beauty of continuing therapy is that we can continue to monitor and add to our individualised goals that we have set for your child AND when the world returns to “normal” we can pick up efficiently without disruption to your child’s learning and enrichment.

In addition, Smart Talk will also be offering the standard 30 to 60 minute treatment sessions via Zoom if you are looking for something a bit more in depth and directed specifically at you child. The idea behind these sessions is that it mimics as much as it can, the tailored made in clinic session we would plan for your child.

Smart Talk Therapy Sessions via Zoom

6-1-1-300x300 Social distancing therapy options - Online Therapy

We have been doing our research here at Smart Talk and all of the therapists have been fiddling around on their laptops and computers, looking at apps and sharing devices within practice zoom sessions to make the online video therapy as engaging and interactive as possible. Our therapists have been trialling these sessions with our Smart Talk kiddies, all ages, with great enjoyment and success. This is our way of trying to provide some normalcy and regularity back into all of our lives and we are having a great time doing it! So if you are wanting some reprieve from home schooling your children (good luck with that long division), looking for some personalised tips on how to encourage your child’s speech or language or just want a moments peace, we are here to help.

Contact Smart Talk reception or your speech pathologist to set up a free trial therapy session via Zoom Telehealth and give it a go. Here we can all work together to support our kids to perform to their best potential.


How To Develop Storytelling Skills

Do you ever get sick of asking what your kids did at school and getting a reply of “nothing!” Or, even worse, going on an exciting holiday and getting them to tell people what they did and they reply, “I don’t know”. It kind of makes you think you might as well have just popped them in a packing box with bubble wrap and saved yourself the money. Well, before you pull out the bubble wrap, here are some ways to develop storytelling skills and why it’s important.

Develop-Kids-Story-Telling-Skills-1-253x300 Social distancing therapy options - Online Therapy

In our visually overstimulated lives our kids “see” stories and get less practise “visualising” (seeing it in their mind) and “verbalising” (saying it out loud) so when they need to retell an event they can’t match the “mind pictures” to the “words” quickly and revert to “I don’t know” or “you know” or “nothing”. I personally spend a large chunk of my life listening to random facts regurgitated from YouTube or blow by blow accounts of Minecraft but when it comes to something that happened on the weekend it takes a bit more prompting.

Storytelling skills are an important skill because they are a bridge to literacy. And so here is a blog post that will hopefully help your kids to happily cross that bridge and actually TELL you about their day instead of a monologue about how to play Minecraft or unwrap LOL girls- unless of course you like that stuff and then you may need therapy.

Here’s the “speechie” info on storytelling skills (don’t tune out it gets witty again- at least I think it does). Written language is far more complex than our everyday spoken language, it requires more sophisticated vocabulary, sentence structure and organisation. But how can you get kids to develop these storytelling skills? Well, the cool thing is that telling stories, yes storytelling, is that link from everyday spoken language to more formal writing.

And if you need some more evidence here are just three awesome research benefits of storytelling;

Develop-Kids-Story-Telling-Skills-1-1-1024x461 Social distancing therapy options - Online Therapy

  • Increased vocabulary as they “try out” new words
  • More complex sentences as they link ideas to tell stories
  • Improved comprehension when frequently exposed to stories.

However, if your kids are anything like most kids they love the visual stimuli of iPads and TV but are less interested in verbal stimuli. They are more likely to watch a story than to listen to or tell one.

To quote a cliche “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and here is the first of 5 ways to develop storytelling skills:

Develop-Kids-Story-Telling-Skills-2.jpg-1-1024x423 Social distancing therapy options - Online Therapy

Develop-Kids-Story-Telling-Skills-3.jpg-1-300x300 Social distancing therapy options - Online Therapy

Our digital native offspring are well versed at images. And before you think I’m one of those “hark back to the good ol’ days” types- I’m not. I think technology is amazing, I think our kids will need to navigate this visually rich minefield and are going to be well equipped.

So let’s use their strengths of being bombarded by images to tell their own story.

One of the great things about photos is you can refer to “when” they happened. Early storytelling such as news starts with when such as “on the weekend”, “on my birthday” even traditional stories start with when such as, “once upon a time”.

Develop-Kids-Story-Telling-Skills-4-1-300x300 Social distancing therapy options - Online Therapy

Even though “when” is a traditional start to the story, this is actually a difficult concept for most children. They often have no concept of time, no idea how long a week or 5 minutes is.

They need to anchor it with things they DO know such as 5 sleeps, when the sun is up or when Paw Patrol ends.

They understand opposites such as day and night. Or they link the “when” to an event eg when it was my birthday or Christmas.

Develop-Kids-Story-Telling-Skills51.jpg-1-300x300 Social distancing therapy options - Online Therapy

Establishing time helps “set the scene”. This helps “visualise” the story.

Using the photo as a bounce off to the story helps them recreate the scene in their heads (like a movie). “This was when you were at Nana’s,  remember you played her piano and played Hansel and Gretel with her”.

Here’s the cool thing, you have all these photos already on your phone and if you don’t have photos of your kids on your phone, are you even a parent?Develop-Kids-Story-Telling-Skills-6png-1-300x300 Social distancing therapy options - Online Therapy

Because I’m a self-confessed snaparazzi mum, I have a billion photos of my kids ranging from super adorable to grotty.

However,  every now and then I like to make it old school and print our photos from my phone. My husband even commented that “Although photos around the house are a bit cheesy, I do like them”.

This way we can actually hold the picture and discuss it more

Develop-Kids-Story-Telling-Skills7-1-298x300 Social distancing therapy options - Online Therapy

fully, add information to it such, as, “This was when you were a baby” or  “This was when we flew to see Nana Tina and went to Movie World- remember Tweety danced with you.

That was so fun!”

To recap “when”

  • Label “when” when looking at photos
  • Ask “when” questions
  • You can always use alternatives if they aren’t sure eg “at night” or “daytime”

Stayed tuned for post two where I discuss how to use car drives to establish “where” in a story.