Navigating the ‘new normal’

mom and daughter

At a time where many parents and caregivers are adjusting to the ‘new normal’ of distance learning, technology remains a major hurdle.

Parent Network of WNY’s ‘Let’s Talk Teletherapy’ session held on April 29 provided tools for parents and caregivers’ of children with disabilities to communicate their teletherapy concerns with providers. For one parent the session helped her to troubleshoot her problems without having to write a complaint to the school district.

The parent was having difficulty with an Occupational Therapy (OT) provider from her child’s school, who was struggling to navigate virtual sessions.
After attending Parent Network’s teletherapy session, she realized what the OT provider’s problem was: fear of technology.

The presentation helped with the confidence, understanding and communication skills,” she said.  She found the session helped to learn from others and see what challenges others face and a  good place to bounce   off each other.  Instead of having to write a complaint to the district, I was able to write a ‘thank you’ to them for helping troubleshoot the problem.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Elizabeth Sands-Clay, Director of Physical Therapy at Beyond Boundaries: Therapy for Kids and facilitator of the teletherapy session felt hopeless as a provider.

She was driven to go outside of her comfort zone to set up mechanisms to effectively offer physical therapy services virtually, which was not easy to do.

“I wanted to talk with providers and families about how to minimize obstacles when exploring teletherapy options as well as debunk some fears providers sometimes have when faced with at-home therapy,” Sands-Clay said.

Teletherapy has ramifications well beyond COVID, she added.

“We can have access to professionals throughout the world via telemedicine.  We can easily encourage collaborations among providers to provide better care.  We can more effectively train families who are not available to participate during pull-out therapy by allowing them to attend sessions virtually.  We can bridge the barriers between home, school and healthcare that have frustrated families for decades.  We need to come out of our comfort zone and try using new technologies if we are going to provide/receive the best possible care,” Sands-Clay said.

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