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Valley speech pathologist moves therapies online during virus outbreak

(KTAR News Photo/Ali Vetnar)

PHOENIX — Hands-on learning is vital for those with developmental disabilities. One Valley speech pathologist has transitioned her therapies online for her clients and their parents because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Before this, I would just drive to house to house to house all day long and I would see my clients in their natural environments,” Speech Language Pathologist Dena Berg told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Monday.

She says her work has changed dramatically and abruptly due to the need for social distance because of coronavirus.

Her clients range in age with the youngest being 4 and the oldest 28, all of whom differ in developmental disabilities ranging from developmental delays, autism, Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy and some feeding disorders.

“It’s been an adjustment because so much of what we do is play based and especially a lot of the feeding therapy we do is, I need to be sitting with my clients to do it,” Berg said. “Now I’m seeing them or coaching their parents in front of a computer.”

Berg has been working from home for three weeks now and said it’s been more successful than she thought it would be.

“It’s kind of a beautiful thing too because we are all away from seeing everybody else, but if they can see me through the computer that gives them a sense of normalcy,” Berg added.

Routine being important for everyone, Berg works to see her clients at the same time on the same days she normally would – just through a screen for the time being.

But how are her clients doing?

“A lot of my clients have questions,” Berg added. “Just the uncertainty of knowing how long this is going to go on for.”

When schools were closed for the year and transitioned all their learning online, Berg said that was extremely hard on her clients because that’s where they receive all of their socialization.

“I have clients who are graduating from 8th grade and they are going to high school, to a completely different school and already feel overwhelmed,” Berg said.

She believes the telehealth sessions with her clients are creating stronger bonds for her clients and their families, but also with her.

“We’ve been talking a lot about how we are all in this together, and the fact that we are staying home is helping,” Berg added. “I try to tell them how amazing it is they can help by just staying home.”


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