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The Efficacy of a Telepractice Service Delivery Model for Providing Speech and Language Services to Children with ASD

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic required the use of remote technologies for society and the workforce to function under quarantine conditions. The literature on telepractice services for individuals with ASD has proliferated during the past decade, especially during the past two years. Still, many publications on the topic lack scientific merit. This study utilized a quasi-experimental, single-subject, multiple-group, time-series design to investigate whether telepractice SLP services are at least as effective as the traditional, face-to-face delivery model. Twenty-one students with autism spectrum disorder were included in this study. Additionally, 22 speech-language pathology graduate students and four SLP school professionals assisted in conducting this research. This investigation was organized into a two-phase research design (AB and BA) whereas phase A corresponded to intervention services being delivered using telepractice and phase B corresponded to the same intervention services being delivered on- site. Students were assigned to either Group 1 (AB) or Group 2 (BA). The participants in this study were treated individually and outcome data were aggregated into a final summary of treatment outcomes. Outcome data for each student included percent accuracy achieved on IEP goals as well as percent assistance required in working on respective IEP goals. For all 21 participants, change over time was examined through single-subject graphs which display composite percent accuracy and assistance throughout both intervention phases. Visual analysis of the data reveals that many participants showed no notable difference in percent accuracy achieved between telepractice and on-site services, but that most students appeared to require less assistance when participating in telepractice services. For a subset of 15 participants, summary statistics and paired samples t-tests were calculated to determine mean differences in student performance for percent accuracy and percent assistance for each mode of service delivery. Paired samples t-tests revealed that there was no difference in students’ response accuracy to treatment stimuli between the intervention conditions. However, paired samples t-tests supported the finding that telepractice services do not require the clinician to provide students with as much assistance as needed on-site. Additionally, results from satisfaction surveys completed by participants suggested that telepractice is a socially valid treatment delivery for students with ASD. Overall, results from this study suggest that telepractice services are an effective alternative to in-person SLP services. This finding has positive implications for clinical decision making and treatment planning for individuals with ASD.
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