Our daily routines have drastically changed since the onset of COVID-19. There are greater restrictions on where we can go, who we can see, and how long we can be there. This applies to businesses, physician and therapy appointments, even time with family. These new challenges can have a significant impact on how we socialize and bring structure to our day, which can further affect our well-being and emotional health.
Staying connected to family, friends, neighbors, or even community groups is more important now than it has ever been. It’s easy to feel isolated when you can’t meet with people you typically communicate with on a regular basis.
We’ve seen an increase in the use of video-conferencing software (e.g., Skype, Zoom) over the past few months in schools, businesses, news reports, hospitals, and therapy practices. People are also using such software to chat with family, friends, and even community groups. Doing so helps bring a sense of normalcy to an otherwise atypical and unprecedented situation.
But what about people who struggle with following instructions, or understanding how to set up video-conferencing software? There are many individuals who have long-standing or new challenges with information processing, comprehension, or even problem solving who may struggle with shifting through all the content needed to set up an account. If you have trouble merely downloading video-conferencing software or logging in to a site, how motivated will you be to actually go forward with using it regularly to connect with others? For some, the effort may outweigh the benefits.
I came across an amazing resource provided through The American Stroke Association which clinicians and family members of individuals with language or cognitive challenges might find useful. The “Video calling for people with aphasia” webpage was specifically designed with stroke patients in mind, but can be appropriate for other individuals who might require simple, concrete, written information with visual supports. It provides links to printable or downloadable PDFs on 3 popular video-conferencing applications, with easy instructions on how to use each one on different devices (i.e., computer, tablet, phone). The instructions are also differentiated by Android and iPhone devices as well.
If you or someone you know would benefit from social reconnection, but needs some structured guidance, this could be a great resource to start with. You can provide the visual and written support while also addressing problem solving, attention to detail, recall of steps, understanding of instructions, and many other language and cognitive skills.
Have you used this resource or something similar? What was your experience? Leave a comment below!
Devon Brunson, MS, CCC-SLP
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