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November 11, 2020

An Evidence-Based Standard for LSL Early Intervention Care


November 11, 2020

“It would be extremely hard for us to see our therapist in person due to distance. Having greater access to her knowledge and services helps me to know how to build better language skills with my child.”

More than 3,400 parents and guardians like the one quoted above have benefited from Clarke’s tVISIT (teleservices Virtual Intervention Services for Infants and Toddlers) Program. This unique program makes experienced listening and spoken language early intervention professionals accessible to families regardless of their location and proximity to on-site services.

"The area we live in has very limited resources when it comes to hearing loss in children," explained Kim, the mother of a child diagnosed with bilateral severe sensorineural hearing loss. "We would've had to drive our daughter an hour and 20 minutes to receive specialized services related to her hearing loss.” Kim and her daughter began tVISITs with Clarke in March 2020.

After expanding its brick and mortar locations along the East Coast, Clarke continued to hear from families outside of the organization’s geographic footprint who needed early intervention listening and spoken language services for their children newly diagnosed with a hearing loss. Research, pilot programming and proven results led to the creation of the tVISIT Program. While originally developed to support families outside of Clarke’s service area, today tVISITs are a foundational component of the organization’s early intervention services.

“In Massachusetts, New York and Florida, Clarke has adopted tVISITs as the standard of care for all Early Intervention families. It’s part of the Clarke experience," explains Barbara Hecht, PhD, director of Clarke Boston.

In the tVISIT model, a Clarke practitioner and a child's caregivers connect via videoconferencing through computers with web cameras and a microphone, a tablet or smart phone at an appointed time. The practitioner guides, coaches and helps the caregivers apply effective strategies that promote listening and spoken language development while engaging in everyday activities.

“The best part,” notes Barbara, “is that the child and family receive the same quality of support provided during in-person sessions. I am proud to report that 100% of caregivers participating in the program effectively learned how to interact more effectively with their child. We want every parent in our program to have these outcomes.”

“Our Clarke speech-language pathologist is absolutely wonderful and has been nothing short of a blessing to our family. Working with Clarke has drastically improved my confidence in understanding hearing loss as well as how to help Leah," shared mother Kim about her tVISIT experience. And she’s not alone in this experience. Ninety-six percent of participating caregivers agreed the program increased their confidence in their ability to help their child.

tVISITs also enable Clarke to support families without reliable transportation, as well as those who have fragile medical conditions and intense demands at home. Ninety-seven percent of caregivers participating in the program agreed that tVISITs have made Clarke services more accessible to their family and 100% agreed tVISITs made services more convenient for their family. Recent families enrolled in tVISITs participate in an average of 10 sessions with some engaging in up to 30 sessions throughout a six-month period.

tVISITs bring an additional set of benefits including reduced travel, scheduling flexibility and increased engagement. Research from Clarke’s tVISIT Program demonstrates that several different people beyond just one parent participate along with the child in the virtual sessions. This engagement contributes to the formation of a home environment that’s conducive to listening and spoken language growth.

“Anecdotally, we have seen an increase in family engagement with virtual services across the board since the onset of COVID-19,” notes Barbara. “Our depth of experience with tVISITs helped to confidently and swiftly propel our transition to remote services for all students including those in preschool and mainstream programming beginning in March 2020.” Because of tVISITs, Clarke had much of the technology, training and best practices in place to undergird a successful platform of remote offerings during the pandemic. “We are always thrilled to deliver a proven model of virtual services for families in need of early intervention services, but especially during this challenging time for health, well-being and education.”

As Clarke continues to expand its reach, nearly 300 families annually will benefit from the tVISIT Program. To learn more, contact Clarke at tvisit@clarkeschools.org.