My boys have been attending CI for over four years now. Over the course of this time, they have done all kinds of therapies- speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy, aquatic therapy, and feeding therapy. I have watched them make progress in their fine motor skills, use their AAC devices more willingly, and my older son even learned how to walk at the age of 5!
No matter what therapy we are focusing on, or which therapist we are working with (and we have worked with so many amazing therapists over the years!), there is one consistent factor that always plays a role in their success. This factor falls on me, and my role as the parent. This factor is my commitment to following through with their therapy practices at home.
When I implement the same techniques and exercises at home that the therapists are using in the clinic, the boys are able to make so much more progress on these goals. It is extremely helpful when it comes to therapies that we may only have once a week (like aquatics). Working on the skills in our free time helps the boys retain these new skills and gives them more practice.
When it comes to speech therapy, the therapists have been great about coming up with core words that we can focus on for the week that help reinforce what they did in their sessions. This allows my boys to retain the motor memory of where the specific words are on their speech devices, or how to move their mouth to form a specific word.
The more we model these words and work on saying them at home, the better chance the boys have at being able to move on to new words in their next sessions.
In occupational therapy, the boys work on their fine motor skills as well as some independent living skills (like using a spoon, cutting with a scissors, drawing lines, etc.). I have asked our occupational therapists many times for iPad app recommendations to help them work on their tracing skills.
I have also observed parts of their sessions to see how they are teaching my boys to put on their coats and shoes so that I can mimic those ideas and prompts at home.
We are constantly working on physical therapy goals at home! Ask your therapist for specific exercises you can do with your child next time you are at the park! Your child will be having so much fun that they won’t even realize they are working towards all of their goals at the same time!
With feeding therapy, the therapists at CI were amazing at helping me transform my kitchen into a sensory friendly area where the boys could expand their diets in a safe environment. They gave me recommendations for seating options, as well as tips for adaptive spoons and forks.
They helped me understand the importance of letting kids explore food on their own terms and making it FUN!
Aquatic therapy can also be carried over to the home environment! While we can’t always get to a pool in between sessions to work on goals, I have found that video modeling is a huge help in this case! I like to take videos of the boys working on new skills in the pool (like climbing the stairs, floating, etc.). The boys love watching these videos in between sessions and it helps them remember the steps and expectations of these activities!
This method can also be useful when it comes to the other therapies too! I have found that our therapists have always been more than willing to let me tape parts of our sessions, or to tape them for me and then email/air drop them to my device.
Following through with other behavioral supports can be extremely effective too! Our therapists have used visual schedules and rewards chats with the boys and they have always been happy to share copies of these materials with me for home use.
Consistency has always played a huge role in the success of the boys when it comes to meeting new goals and learning new skills. Anything I can do at home to help them work on their therapy goals will only benefit them. We are fortunate enough to go to a clinic that is filled with therapists who are ready and willing to help us achieve that positive follow through of techniques and exercises at home!
The more exposure our children have, the easier it will be for them to make progress!