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Using Skype for Delivering Early Intervention Services

Module by: Ashwaq Alzamel. E-mail the author

Summary: This project is based on using Skype to deliver early intervention services. Early intervention services are services that are tailored to serve the needs of children with disabilities or who are at risk and their families. Through Skype, the early interventionist can check on the child's progress, consult with the family, and teach the parents how to fulfill the child's needs. For example, if the child has communication impairments, the early interventionist would suggest to the parent that he/she talks to the child about the daily routines. Using Skype to deliver services is a great alternative for home-visits in emergency cases and also as a progress check-up method. Furthermore, it provides families living in rural areas with the same opportunities and services.

EDUC 550 Spring 2011

Project Title: Using Skype for Delivering Early Intervention Services

Author: Ashwaq Alzamel

Key words: Skype, Early Intervention, Special Education, Early Childhood, Technology, Family, Rural Areas, Service Delivery.

Summary:

This project is based on using Skype to deliver early intervention services. Early intervention services are services that are tailored to serve the needs of children with disabilities or who are at risk and their families. Through Skype, the early interventionist can check on the child's progress, consult with the family, and teach the parents how to fulfill the child's needs. For example, if the child has communication impairments, the early interventionist would suggest to the parent that he/she talks to the child about the daily routines. Using Skype to deliver services is a great alternative for home-visits in emergency cases and also as a progress check-up method. Furthermore, it provides families living in rural areas with the same opportunities and services.

Context:

Early intervention sessions include enhancing the child's overall development (cognitive, communication, social, emotional, physical, and behavioral development) and empowering family members to be the primary teachers of their own children and to advocate for their rights.

Objectives:

  • To teach families how to serve the needs of their children through videoconferencing.
  • To provide early intervention services through videoconferencing
  • To reach out to families that live in rural areas
  • To provide consultation and stay in touch with families that moved away.
  • To serve many families as efficiently as possible despite the limited funds.

Users:

This project is intended for families of infants and toddlers with disabilities or at risk, early interventionists, occupational therapists, physical therapist, speech and language therapists, assistive technology specialists, interpreters, and other professionals on the early intervention team.

Rational For Project:

Families may not be able to have the early interventionist over their house, due to many reasons, such as sickness, traveling, etc. This would cause the child to miss weeks of services, when he/she could “catch up” tremendously! When the family moves out of town, the early interventionist still wants to check on the progress of the child to guide the process. Using Skype to deliver early intervention services to families would help reach out to families in need despite the limited funds, save time that could be used for service delivery,

What is early intervention and who is it for?

  • Early intervention services are designed to identify and meet a child's needs in five developmental areas, including: physical development, cognitive development, communication, social or emotional development, and adaptive development (U.S. Department of Edu, 2011).
  • Early intervention is Infants and toddlers (0-3 years old) with disabilities receive special education services within their home (HOPE, 2011).

What is Skype?

Skype is a free software that allows users to stay in touch with others via text, voice and video calls. It offers free two-way video calls and affordable multi-way video calls. It also provides free file sharing among users (Skype, 2011)

Alternatives:

ooVoo, Gmail video chat, Yahoo messenger, VZO Chat.

Early Intervention Services that can be provided through Skype:

  • Family training and counseling services
  • Special instruction;
  • Speech and language therapy
  • Hearing impairment services
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Psychological services
  • Medical services (only for diagnostic or evaluation purposes)
  • Health services (needed to enable your child to benefit from the other services
  • Social work services
  • Assistive technology
  • Transportation
  • Nutrition services
  • Service coordination services (NICHY, 2010).

Using Videoconferencing to deliver services:

  • Families know their children best and they are the experts of their own children. Families believe that time is a major issue when working with professionals to provided services for children. They need interventions to be integrated within their daily routines and environment. Parents believe that technology can help manage time more effectively during the early intervention sessions. Furthermore, limited funds made technology a must in delivering special education services to families in rural areas (Brotherson, M, Goldstein, B, 1992).
  • Families prefer to work with the same educational team rather than working with new staff. They believe that starting over with a new team would waste a lot of time that could be spent toward child learning (Brotherson, M, Goldstein, B, 1992).
  • In a study conducted by Nelson et al (2003), videoconferencing was found to be an effective method to decrease depression symptoms in children.
  • At-risks adolescents with epilepsy and their families report high levels of comfort and low levels of distraction when using videoconferencing to receive counseling services (Hufford, B, Glueckauf, R, Webb, P, 1999).
  • In a study where videoconferencing was used to provide occupational therapy services for families living in rural areas, it was found that videoconferencing is effective in delivering services that are cost-effective and meet the children and families' needs (Cason, J, 2009)
  • Videoconferencing has been found to be effective in treating early childhood serious problem behaviors. Research indicates that it has less technical and cost barriers compared to other technologies as Skype is free, easy to use and the equipment needed for videoconferencing already exist in the classroom. Moreover, it saves travel time which can be used for delivering services. Videoconferencing offers frequent and immediate feedback. Another advantage of using videoconferencing for early intervention is that when a practice is not effective or an error occurs, adjustments can be easily made in that session rather than the next scheduled visit (Gibson, J, Pennington, R, Stenhoff, D, Hopper, J, 2010).

How does learning occur?

Learning occurs when the learner has a motivation to learn (in this case, the family's motivation is the child). Through exposure to research-based practices and reliable information on early intervention, the family will make everyday routines a learning experience for the child. Learning also occurs through asking/answering questions, discussion, modeling, and implementing early intervention activities.

In what environment can technology promote learning?

Technology can promote learning in natural environments. In blended environments, where the early interventionist and the family meet via video-conference and face-to-face. This mixture of environments provides the family and the child with the maximum amount of instruction and service.

What is the process by which technology enhances learning?

Technology can enhance learning when the learner is actively engaged in learning as well as motivated to be a part of the process. Technology enhances parent learning when they are being a part of the discussion, asking and answering questions, modeling, implementing, and being exposed to developmentally appropriate practices for infants and toddlers with disabilities.

References:

Brotherson, M., & Goldstein, B. L. (1992). Time as a resource and constraint for parents of young children with disabilities: Implications. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 12(4), 508. Retrieved from EBSCOhost

Cason, J. (2009). A Pilot Telerehabilitation Program: Delivering Early Intervention Services to Rural Families. International Journal of Telerehabilitation • Vol. 1, No. 1, page 29-37.

Gibson, J, MSW, Pennington, R, Stenhoff, D, Hopper, J. (2010). Using Desktop Videoconferencing to Deliver Interventions to a Preschool Student With Autism. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, vol. 29 no. 4 214-225

Hufford, B, Glueckauf, R, Webb, P. (1999). Home-Based, Interactive Videoconferencing for Adolescents With Epilepsy and Their Families. Rehabilitation Psychology Journal. Retrieved

HOPE San Diego Infant Family Support Program. Eligibility and Referral. Retrieved on April 30th, 2011 from: http://www.sdcoe.net/student/eeps/hope

National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities. (2010). Overview of Early Intervention. Retrieved on April 30th, 2011 from: http://nichcy.org/babies/overview

Nelson, E, Barnard, M, Cain, S. Treating Childhood Depression Over Videoconferencing. Telemed J E Health. 2003 Spring; 9(1): 49–55.

Skype. Make the Most of Skype. Retrieved on April 30th, 2011 from: http://www.skype.com/intl/en-us/features/

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