I began this series noting the positive effects of parent education and training and sharing tips for how to provide it. Then, in part 2, I discussed how I implement parent education/training in my therapy sessions. Here, in part 3, I discuss how I use digital recording to support parent training and education.
Although I own a tablet for therapy, my most valued device on that tablet is the video camera. Most of the time you will not find me with some speech or language app open on my tablet. Rather, you’ll see me with toys all over the floor and my tablet set up with the camera ready to record.
When working closely with parents during therapy, I find that digital recordings provide helpful feedback on a parent’s use of therapy techniques. It works especially well during real-time education and training (you can read about this in part 2 of this series), as so much of language development depends on the ways caregivers communicate with young children.
The following are some personal rules I like to follow when using digital recordings in therapy:
- Be careful of confidentiality when recording: This seems so basic but I always get parents’ permission prior to recording their child. Also I am very cautious when sharing digital recordings of clients as I always worry about secure emails, websites and such. I tend to use thumb drives, when I can, to share the digital recordings with parents in person just to ensure security. If I cannot provide the parents with a thumb drive on the spot week to week (the one big problem I have found using my tablet camera) I will be sure to still review the digital recording on the spot during the session for educational purposes.
- Record only portions of the session: I understand parents do not have a lot of time to review recordings, so I try to only record simple models of techniques by myself, followed by parents’ trials with my positive feedback and suggestions for modifications or changes. This way, if parents question how to implement the techniques, they have a quick refresher ready for them. My rule of thumb is to try and keep these recordings to five minutes or so. This way parents can quickly access the information they need.
- A few things I like to record when I can:
- Initially, I always try to record basic parent interactions and hopefully PLAY with their child (this is not about telling the parent how “wrong” they are in the way they interact with their child, but rather it’s about increasing parental awareness of the types of interactions they tend to have with their child. For example, are they always asking their child questions? Are they talking “at” rather than “to” their child? This video review is non-judgmental but educational in nature.
- Sibling interactions can also be very helpful as well if the sibling is older and can understand and learn to use various techniques to help the younger child.
- Sometimes taping sibling interactions is a great way to teach parents how to play with their language delayed child.
- I try to record “before” and “after” the use of strategies. Parents love to see how they themselves have changed over time and I love to show them!
- Record great parent and sibling interactions: The last things I like to try to record are moments of wonderful interactions between the child and his parent and/or siblings. I love sharing those moments and reviewing all the great techniques used by the family members. This is not only a great review, but continues to encourage and empower parents to keep up the good work. I also like to keep previous recordings so that parents can see their personal progress over time. It is amazing to watch their faces when they see how far they have come!
In my experience, digital recordings can really enhance parent education and training, can be a great reminder and resource for parents, and can encourage and empower parents to continue to use good therapy strategies and techniques at home to continue fostering language development in their child.
Maria Del Duca, MS, CCC-SLP, is a pediatric speech-language pathologist in southern Arizona. She owns a private practice, Communication Station: Speech Therapy, PLLC, and has a speech and language blog under the same name. She has been practicing as an ASHA certified member since 2003 and is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 16, School-Based Issues. She has experience in various settings such as private practice, hospital and school environments and has practiced in New Jersey, Maryland, Kansas and now Arizona. Maria has a passion for early childhood, autism spectrum disorder, rare syndromes, and childhood apraxia of speech. For more information, visit her blog or find her on Facebook.