Learn the personal story about what inspired the creation of NTR. Sandy Broderway, MS, CCC-SLP, is the owner and director of National TeleTherapy Resources (NTR). It’s a therapy practice that specializes in providing a variety of services to children via digital infrastructure rather than in person. But, she didn’t make the decision to start an […]
Learn the personal story about what inspired the creation of NTR.
Sandy Broderway, MS, CCC-SLP, is the owner and director of National TeleTherapy Resources (NTR). It’s a therapy practice that specializes in providing a variety of services to children via digital infrastructure rather than in person.
But, she didn’t make the decision to start an innovative business with only her head. She led with her heart.
A Personal-Professional Journey
When Sandy’s son, Brandon, was born, he weighed 2 pounds, 15 ounces. He was often ill as an infant, and when he entered the toddler stage, Sandy and her husband noticed some delays in walking and talking. He also had some vision deficits.
They immediately started occupational and speech therapy and were happy to see Brandon progressing over the years.
But, when he began kindergarten, things changed. Brandon struggled to stay on task and complete assignments. Sandy realized that the school may not be able to provide Brandon with all the attention that he needed.
“It wasn’t the school’s fault,” Sandy said. “They just didn’t have the resources. So, we moved to a district that had the resources we needed. And, I made a decision.”
Sandy decided to go back to school and get a master’s degree in Communication Disorders.
“I wanted three things from this degree,” she said. “I wanted to understand the challenges my child was dealing with, I wanted to be able to help other parents in their journeys, and I wanted to help schools find a way to provide needed resources no matter where they were located.”
After graduating, Sandy worked in a variety of environments including hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and schools. She was also approached by someone who wanted to develop a teletherapy practice, but the opportunity didn’t work out.
Over the next several months, however, her thoughts kept returning to the concept in relation to schools that lacked therapy resources.
Launching Telehealth for Kids
In 2015, she launched National TeleTherapy Resources, and today, she works through school districts providing teletherapy services to students throughout the country.
She credits her journey with Brandon in better understanding the dynamics involved in the child-parent-teacher-therapist relationship.
Today, Brandon is a thriving and active high school graduate who loves cars. People describe him as “smart, a big personality, and a great problem solver,” Sandy says. “Brandon has a big heart, especially when it comes to his younger brother.”
“He reminds me every day why I believe in this business.”
Advice for Parents
From a personal and professional perspective, Sandy has a few suggestions for parents recognizing that their child may need assistance with developmental issues.
If you are noticing deficits, seek out information and resources. For example, if a child is slow to talk, take notice.
“A child’s ability to say ‘my name is….’ is foundational to his or her communication skills in the future,” Sandy explains. “It opens the door to forming relationships.”
Don’t be afraid of technologies and assistive devices. Be open with the people who surround your child (teachers, other students, and their parents) about what those devices do and how they help.
“Ask to do a show-and-tell in the classroom about a wheelchair or an Alternative/Augmented Communication device,” she said. “It builds understanding, curiosity and empathy in classmates.”
Understand that every child (regardless of ability) learns differently and at a different pace. Any gain is a great gain regardless of pace.
Follow the Joy
Find the things that the child loves and does well. It brings joy, builds confidence, and creates the opportunity for the family to engage more fully with the child at many levels.
In Brandon’s case, it was golf. He began playing with a friend, Sandy says. “He had an amazing swing. He eventually took lessons, joined the golf team at school, and competed in tournaments.”
Participate in Therapy
Participate in as many therapy sessions as you can. Understanding what is being done and why it’s being done is critical to moving therapy from an hour or two a week to incorporating strategies into your everyday lives.
If you’re frustrated, they get frustrated. If they’re frustrated, they lose confidence and quit.
Be an Advocate
Finally, be an advocate for your child. Don’t always assume that an approach that works for another student is the right approach for your child. You know your child best and know best how they can and will succeed.
Partner with NTR
If you’re a teacher, school administrator, school therapist or parent who would like to learn more about how National TeleTherapy Resources collaborates with schools to improve outreach and help more kids through occupational therapy, speech therapy, or other related services, contact Sandy today.
Call her at today at 844-NTR-LINK, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
They say necessity is the mother of invention, which has certainly been true as it relates to the emergence and acceptance of teletherapy during the current health crisis. And, while turning to an online, virtual environment for therapeutic needs isn’t a new concept, speech-language therapist Sandy Broderway points this may be the only option for some right now – particularly young people affected by COVID-related school closures. Yet, […]
They say necessity is the mother of invention, which has certainly been true as it relates to the emergence and acceptance of teletherapy during the current health crisis.
And, while turning to an online, virtual environment for therapeutic needs isn’t a new concept, speech-language therapist Sandy Broderway points this may be the only option for some right now – particularly young people affected by COVID-related school closures.
Yet, Broderway says many school districts are so overwhelmed with the wide array of changes they are working to implement, from cleaning procedures to safe student transportation to accessibility of digital resources and the health safety of their students and teaching staff that their therapy teams aren’t yet equipped with the tools or a plan to begin offering remote services to those who need it.
“Vulnerable students’ personal and developmental needs have only been heightened by the world’s experiencing a health crisis,” says Broderway, founder of National TeleTherapy Resources, an organization that partners with schools to offer telehealth services like speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, behavior therapy, mental health services, and so on.
“Unfortunately, many children may not be getting the therapy treatments and mental health services they need simply based on the lack of time in school. With fall schedules still in flux within many districts across the country, this isn’t a problem that will likely get solved in the fall.”
That’s where Broderway and the National TeleTherapy Resources (NTR) team can step in and help.
Having practiced teletherapy for more than a decade, Broderway understands the best practices and advantages of using this model as well as the challenges schools face, both leading up to and during the start of the 2020-21 school year.
And, it’s the NTR team’s mission to partner with schools to assist them in better providing the essential services of speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, behavior therapy and mental health services to their students.
Is TeleTherapy Effective?
Of course, as schools work out strategies to provide these services to students with caseloads that are quickly backing up, their goals continues to be based on providing critical services effectively.
Can therapists and counselors achieve this through virtual connections?
Of course, Broderway says.
“When the well-being and success of our children are at stake, it’s always fair to question the effectiveness and legitimacy of any new methods that may or may not affect treatments,” Broderway says. “Fortunately, various researchers have studied virtual therapy and have reached similar conclusions: that teletherapy is effective and beneficial.”
For example, one study released earlier this year in the journal “Disability and Rehabilitation” evaluated the effectiveness of “tele-speech therapy” on the recovery of patients with a stutter.
Not only did this research conclude such therapy was effective for patients “irrespective of age, gender and education background,” but more than half the patients reported the experience as being highly satisfying.
Another study published four years earlier in the International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology concluded that “telepractice does not appear to have a negative effect on rapport between [speech-language therapists] and pediatric clients.”
How We Can Help
“During a time when school districts and therapy teams may feel their hand has been somewhat forced into a solution like teletherapy, these studies offer a level of comfort in knowing students won’t be negatively impacted from the change,” says Broderway
“And, since our team’s been operating virtually for years, we’re able to help these departments transition safely, effectively and securely toward this direction.”
Depending on a school district’s level of experience and need, the National TeleTherapy Resources team can help in translating therapy and counseling services to a more virtual program, provide additional therapists and tools for meeting need and demand, improve student attendance, and navigate related laws and regulations.
“But, as I like to point out, our ultimate focus isn’t on the school or the therapist or even the teletherapy platform; it’s to help the kids and make sure they’re getting the services they need to soar in life,” Broderway says.
“It’s because of this that we provide schools with the highest levels of service possible – from simple training to providing our full scope of services.”
During this COVID-19 era, school counselors and therapists of all types – including speech-language and occupational therapists – have been forced to rapidly adjust to the virtual environment. Also known as telehealth or teletherapy, this is the therapeutic model with which National TeleTherapy Resources speech-language therapist Sandy Broderway is most familiar. And, having practiced teletherapy […]
During this COVID-19 era, school counselors and therapists of all types – including speech-language and occupational therapists – have been forced to rapidly adjust to the virtual environment.
Also known as telehealth or teletherapy, this is the therapeutic model with which National TeleTherapy Resources speech-language therapist Sandy Broderway is most familiar.
And, having practiced teletherapy for more than a decade, she understands the best practices and advantages of using this model as well as the challenges schools face, both leading up to and during the start of the 2020-21 school year.
“So many schools are asking their current therapists to learn telehealth on the fly,” said Broderway, founder of National TeleTherapy Resources, an organization that partners with schools in offering telehealth services like speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, behavior therapy, mental health services, and so on.
“Our organization’s been working all these years trying to increase awareness of teletherapy and the benefits of incorporating virtual services into special education programs,” Broderway added. “And then, seemingly overnight [due to COVID], there was quite a change where more schools are viewing teletherapy as a possible way of reaching and treating more kids who need specialized services.”
But, despite this change of heart and the realization in the potential of teletherapy, schools from wide rural districts to more populated urban areas have experienced a rapid learning curve, which has led to multiple challenges.
Fortunately, National TeleTherapy Resources offers solutions that can help schools and districts of all sizes to overcome the challenges they have faced due to COVID-19, which will no doubt continue to affect districts well into next school year.
Some of these challenges include:
Challenge 1: Translating Therapeutic Services to Virtual
According to Broderway, one of the first struggles schools and their therapists/counselors encounter when entering the virtual world is how to effectively offer treatments through a computer screen.
“Speech-language therapy, and especially occupational therapy, can be very complex and hard to wrap your mind around how to effectively offer it online,” she said.
THE SOLUTION: National TeleTherapy Resources has been partnering with schools to train their on-site therapist(s) on how to develop teletherapy in their districts and how to most effectively deliver services to the children who need it.
Challenge 2: School Resources
With in-school education temporarily suspended and therapists scrambling to develop solutions for continuing services for students in need, many school caseloads have become backed up. The inability to offer in-school group sessions has only compounded the issue.
“This made it so therapists who often already have greater caseloads than they can handle now have to play catch-up, and do so with more one-on-one sessions,” Broderway said. “This can become completely unmanageable.”
THE SOLUTION: When resources are lacking, or they simply need help catching up, National TeleTherapy Resources provides schools with additional therapists and tools.
“As people go back to school, there’s going to be a lot of compensatory sessions to be made up because of COVID,” Broderway said. “We can help by providing therapists to help the schools during this time. Having a team of therapists who don’t have to travel from school to school, we’re able to cover more sessions in a shorter time.”
Challenge 3: Attendance
Children and their families are already having to adjust to schooling at home. Ensuring children in need are able to attend their virtual therapy and/or counseling appointments can become an issue – one that can hold back progress and development, possibly affecting other aspects of their education.
THE SOLUTION: National TeleTherapy Resources ensures students, parents and guardians get regular reminders of appointments, from a day out to as close as 30 minutes before the start of sessions. The team also helps schools determine, and overcome, potential barriers causing kids to miss their appointments.
Challenge 4: Compliance & Service
As Broderway’s been working with some schools who are transitioning over to virtual therapy and counseling, she’s noticed many encounter compliance issues.
“It’s a monumental job to transition from on-site to online services almost overnight,” she said. “Add to that the complicated laws and regulations, and it’s no wonder schools are finding this difficult to navigate.”
Also, many of the larger services and platforms lack the level of personalized training and services needed by schools and the kids they serve.
SOLUTION: Broderway said all online tools used by National TeleTherapy Resources are HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act) and FERPA (Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act) compliant.
As for service?
“Our ultimate focus isn’t on the school or the therapist or even the teletherapy platform; it’s to help the kids and make sure they’re getting the services they need to soar in life,” Broderway said. “It’s because of this that we provide schools with the highest levels of service possible – from simple training to providing our full scope of services.”