The benefits of online therapy for neurodivergent kids in rural and remote Australia

In an era where the digital and online world is constantly changing and becoming more and more popular and accessible, it makes sense that many traditional face-to-face supports are adapting too.

In the realm of allied health: online therapy has become increasingly popular, and over the years, the team at Umbo, have been supporting more and more families through online speech pathology and occupational therapy supports Australia-wide.

We asked their brilliant occupational therapist, Fad Shaiful, to unravel the ways in which online therapy is emerging as a lifeline for families residing in rural and remote regions of our expansive country.

This blog post covers the benefits of online therapy in rural and remote areas, including:

Overcoming Distance: When the Nearest Help is a World Away

For some families, the nearest town centre is a lengthy drive away and services are difficult to come by. Access to allied health services can feel like chasing a dream for families with young kids living with complex needs in these regions. 

Enter the first benefit of the virtual world of online therapy. With a steady internet connection, families can now receive therapy sessions without travelling cross-country. This digital option lays the foundation for prompt, dependable support that recognises the specific challenges of rural and remote living. It has the added benefit of connecting you to experienced therapists based all around the country. 

When kids have sport, after school commitments, and socialising to do, families can feel like the local taxi service. Therefore, being able to log onto the computer instead of driving to yet another destination can save a lot of time and money (including not having to pay travel time to the therapist). 

A Familiar Haven: Comfort in Your Personal Space

The comforting space of familiar surroundings tends to be one’s own house, which is the case for families in rural Australia. Through allowing for sessions to take place within the safety of home, online therapy embraces this comfort and safety, offering a situation where both kids and parents may unwind, express themselves, and participate in therapeutic activities without feeling anxious in a strange atmosphere. This also allows therapists to work with families in a natural setting, which supports us to make accurate and insightful observations, whilst using the resources you have readily available in your own home. 

Then again, for families who travel or want to go on holidays but not suspend their important therapy sessions, your therapy can move with you! All you need is a device and your sessions can continue to occur while you’re on the road

Your therapy can move with you!

All you need is a device and your sessions can continue to occur while you’re on the road

Online therapy and neurodivergent kids: can it work? 

We find that doing therapy from home suits many neurodivergent kids and their families, and online therapy can in fact be a preference for many ND clients for the reasons that it allows kids to:

  • Be in the comfort of their own home
  • Be able to interact with their favourite toys or games
  • Not have to deal with the potential difficulties of interacting with someone in their personal space
  • Do therapy whilst playing games online, which can be an effective engagement tool.

What does online therapy look like?

  • Efficient Assessments: Many standardized assessments are paperless and online, enabling therapists to inform their therapeutic plans and save considerable time processing results
  • Interactive platforms: Encrypted and secure online environments facilitate collaborative therapeutic journeys such as Zoom or Google Drive, where activities, methods, and growth are dynamically shared. There are so many more online options available now to make therapy really fun!
  • Real time vs delayed time support : Online therapy means that therapists can work directly with you and your child during sessions, as well as indirectly. For example, through video recordings, therapists might be able to see what a meltdown looks like, or how a new strategy is working out. They can then provide follow up support via email, phone or in the next session. 
  • Including everyoneAnother benefit of online sessions is that it often means family members can attend sessions more readily. For example, a child may have their session while at school, and their parents can join the session from their workplace during their lunchbreak

Too long, didn’t read? Here’s the take-home message:

Keep in mind that online therapy is more than simply appointments on a screen; it’s an ever-evolving means of accessing high quality support for you and your child that can be created and customised to suit your unique needs and circumstances. In many ways, online therapy can offer more flexibility than face to face therapy and our skills and knowledge in this space continue to grow and advance.



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