Feeding and


Feeding & Swallowing Clinic via Telehealth: A Guide for Parents

Is a telehealth evaluation the same as an in-person evaluation at a clinic or hospital?

Yes! A telehealth evaluation is an online video evaluation. Therapists can see your child and your child can see their therapists. All interactions simply occur online instead of in-person. Providers are all licensed professionals or graduate students under the direct supervision of clinic mentors. We can even send you a digital video copy of your evaluation to share with other medical professionals or caregivers.

Telehealth seems trendy. How do I know it will work for my child? Isn’t a traditional in-person evaluation better?

Telehealth is not new. In fact, telehealth began as far back as the 1950s. While telehealth has changed as technology has advanced, the basic principle of providing healthcare services to patients across large distances is the same. Research tells us that telehealth is successful in helping children with feeding difficulties. State and national accrediting agencies require the quality of telehealth therapy to be as good or better than a traditional in-person evaluation.

For some children it is very important to see their feeding routines in their home environment so we can know what suggestions and recommendations will be best for your family. There are children who will need to be seen in-person so we can closely evaluate their feeding skills. We can assess the need for an in-person visit during a telehealth visit.

I want to try telehealth, but I am not good with computers. How hard is it to get telehealth to work?

Telehealth is designed to be easy to use. You will just need an internet capable device with a camera and an active email address. Our families often use smartphones, computers, or tablets. We will send you directions on what to do at home to connect to telehealth. To begin your online session, you simply just click on the link provided. No special computer skills are needed to successfully use telehealth.

I don’t have internet access at home, can my child still have a telehealth evaluation?

Maybe. You can access telehealth from a smartphone with internet capabilities. Other options might include going to the home of a grandparent or close friend to access the internet, using a private room at your local library to access the internet, or trying an internet hotspot. Sometimes local schools, DHHR offices, or medical providers will have spaces available for patients to access telehealth. These options are most often found in more rural areas. Your physician or other therapists may also have more ideas for your specific situation. Please contact us if you need assistance accessing the internet for telehealth.

Is telehealth safe? Who can see my child during online sessions?

Yes! Telehealth is a safe option for your child. All therapy sessions occur your home. State and national guidelines require our online telehealth platform to meet strict healthcare standards to maintain your privacy. Telehealth sessions are always confidential. We only provide telehealth services from secure and private spaces. Online telehealth sessions are only visible to your family and your therapists.

What about payment? Will my insurance cover telehealth?

Telehealth services at our clinic are grant-funded, so there is no payment required. You must sign a release form to participate in telehealth. For telehealth sessions at our clinic you must be physically located in the state of West Virginia during the time of your sessions.

I am not comfortable with other people seeing the inside of my house. Does using telehealth mean everyone will see my home?

Telehealth is meant to be a resource for families, not a burden. It can feel invasive and overwhelming to show your home to people you don’t know. Please be aware that the camera you use for telehealth is completely controlled by you. You can set up your computer, iPad, or phone in a small corner of your home, in front of a plain wall or door, or even outside. No one will be able to see anything you don’t show them.

I don’t learn well by seeing things on a screen. How can I help my child during telehealth?

Before our evaluation will discuss learning preferences with you. Some people learn best with paper copies to look over, while others like to listen, or even see and hear information. Both the learning needs of your child and your family will be a big part of how we plan telehealth sessions. An open and honest conversation about what your family needs to be successful learners will be one of the first steps in our clinic telehealth experience.

I know my child will not be able to sit in front of a screen for an entire evaluation. How can we use telehealth if my child has a short attention span?

First, your child will not be expected to sit through an entire session. We are used to working with children of all ages and abilities. We use lots of ideas and strategies to help keep your child interested. Also, parent training and parent participation are big parts of telehealth. We will give you guidance throughout the telehealth process to support your child’s success.

For more information check out these references:

American Speech Language Hearing Association (2020). Telepractice. http://asha.org

Bart-Neff, A., & Overby, M. S. (2017). Perceptions of telepractice pedagogy in speech-language pathology: A quantitative analysis. Journal of Telemedicine & Telecare, 23(5), 550-557. http://doi.org/10.1177/1357633X16655939

Baumann, P. K., & Scales, T. (2016). History of information communication technology and telehealth. Academy of Business Research Journal 3(2016), 48-52.

Boisvert, M. K. (2012). An investigation of the efficacy of speech and language interventions with students with ASD using telepractice. (Accession No. ED545704) [Doctoral dissertation, University of Massachusetts Amherst]. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.

Burns, C. L., Byrnes, J., Hill, A. J., Kenny, L. M., Kularatna, S., & Ward, E. C. (2017). Randomized controlled trial of a multi-site speech pathology telepractice service providing swallowing and communication intervention to patients with head and neck cancer: Evaluation of service outcomes. Journal of the Sciences and Specialties of the Head and Neck, 39(5), 932-939. http://doi.org/10.1002/hed.24706

Demiray, U., & Sharma, R. C. (2009). Ethical practices and implications in distance learning. Information Science Reference.

Grillo, E. (2017). Results of a survey offering clinical insights into speech-language pathology telepractice methods. International Journal of Telerehabilitation, 9(2), 25-30. http://doi.org/10.5195/it.2017.6230

Matthews, M. T., Williams, G. S., Yanchar, S. C., & McDonlas, J. K. (2017). Empathy in distance learning design practice. Techtrends, 61, 486-493. http://doi.org/10.1007/s11528-017-0212-2

McSwain, S. D., Bernard, J., Burke, B. L., Cole, S. L., Dharmar, M., Hall- Barrow, J., Herendeen, N., Herendeen, P., Krupinski, E. A., Martin, A., North, S., McCafferty, D., Mulligan, D. A., Ruschman, J., Waller, M., Webster, K., Williams, S., Yamamoto, S., &Yeager, B. (2017). Policy: American Telemedicine Association operating procedures for pediatric telehealth. Telemedicine and E-Health, 23(9), 699-706. http://doi.org/10.1089/time.2017.0176

Spinello, R. A. (2016). Cyberethics: Morality and law in cyberspace, 6th Ed. Jones & Bartlett.

West Virginia Board of Examiners for Speech Language Pathology and Audiology (2020). http://www.wvspeechandaudiology.com