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Skype-Coaching Parents in Auditory Verbal Therapy by Dave Sindrey

Special Education Apps

I’m more of a wannabe Geek than Geek. I only seem to learn about new technology when I get excited about a new use for me in my work. I used to trade videos with families from a distance in Canada. They would send a video themselves working with their child who had a cochlear implant. I would video myself watching the video and make comments and give suggestions. I would then send back the new video. No notes – but better. The parent could see what I was talking about explicitly and watch again and again if needed. That was in the early 90s. Now I do web mentorship to therapists who want certification in Auditory Verbal therapy and consultation to parents through Skype.

At first the download of the free software makes new clients a little nervous and we usually have the odd glitch starting up. At other times the internet doesn’t want to help and we have a lousy connection. Usually problems occur in the first or second session. Once we get going everything goes great.

Auditory Verbal follows a mediator model and focuses training parents to work with their children. Like the Hanen program (Canadian:)) AV believes “children learn best from their parents, in a naturalistic and familiar environment“. This fits perfectly with webcam consultation. Unfortunately, I do lose use of some techniques by being out of the room. Typically (in traditional AV therapy) we sit beside the parent so that we can model language use by taking the first turn, and then pass the turn to the parent. The therapist can then watch the parent use this same skill/technique as they interact with the child. Through the webcam it is hard to model, but I find that that I have actually freed the parent to express their own style and then I can coach from there. I can coach them on how they can use techniques to repair communicative breakdown, emphasize language structures and speech sounds through acoustic highlighting, and more. I can also shift them to a better balance of talking and listening with their child (parents of children with hearing loss often talk without remembering to wait and give their child a turn).

A great advantage of Skype is that it is free to users. There is a great article I just read about “tele-intervention” (Tele-Intervention: The Wave of the Future fits the Needs of Families Today, December 2010, and they use expensive teleconferencing equipment to work with a family from a distance. It is a good article that discusses the potential of this new approach in working with families from a distance. I would say, though, in my opinion, webcam with Skype is not only more accessible than teleconferencing equipment, it is more than adequate. My screen and speakers help me to observe clearly the parent with child. I can hear language as it is used in the home and they can see me and hear me as I give feedback. If a parent has a laptop I encourage them to use that so it can be positioned anywhere in the house. I can coach language stimulation during dressing, eating, cooking, reading, etc. It is strange that technology has helped me to shift to a more naturalistic approach.For more information visit my website

by Dave Sindrey, M.Cl.Sc. LSLS Cert. AVT (Guest Blogger)

Dave Sindrey is the creator of many beloved materials for children with hearing loss, including Listening Games for Littles and the Cochlear Implant Auditory Training Guide. Dave is known for inventive and effective games that work on both listening and language, and his lighthearted illustrations are loved by both parents and children around the world. He is the creator of the Listeningroom at which draws more than 100,000 visitors each month.His current projects are the subscription websites and
Dave was trained as a Speech Language Pathologist at the University of Western Ontario and is certified as an Auditory-Verbal Therapist. Mr. Sindrey has given more than one hundred lectures internationally on parent centered treatment, creating fun and effective lesson plans, strategies for developing listening skills and techniques for promoting active listening behaviors in children.

Comments (3)

Great utilization of Skype for distance monitoring and training. I hadn’t thought about it like this before but it opens up all kinds of ideas.

The point, “children learn best from their parents, in a naturalistic and familiar environment,“ can’t be stressed enough. Video modeling of other students has had great success for teaching but parents are still the biggest influencers, especially in the early pre-K years. Thanks for the enlightening post.

Is there a certification course for AVT. I am a Hanen certified SLP and practice in the LA area. Would love to be a part of the online coaching programs that are out there.

Its very good and innovative for parents and therapist, how does we do AVT certificate course.
Thank you

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