As kids pick up new skills during occupational therapy, parents play a big role in their progress by continuing these lessons at home. Learn some of the most effective and creative ways to reinforce occupational therapy for children with disabilities.
Thanks to modern medical knowledge and the programs available today, children with developmental disabilities have never enjoyed so many options or opportunities to thrive. At Integrity, Inc., our occupational therapists and caregivers harness life-changing tools and techniques to help kids overcome challenges and develop lifelong skills, and we are proud to help kids become more confident, competent human beings. However, occupational therapy for children with disabilities is only one part of the equation.
After your child comes home, they must continue to apply these skills in a comfortable environment with a consistent routine, or they could risk backtracking or delaying progress. Implement these three ways to reinforce occupational therapy lessons at home, and keep your child engaged and learning.
1. Stick to your child’s support plan.
At-home reinforcement is one of the main goals of the individual support plan. You, your child, and their occupational therapy team will work together to customize this support plan, but you must also work together to follow it. If your child is learning to respect certain social boundaries, hold them accountable at home. If your child’s therapist recommends a specific diet restriction or nighttime routine, do not change it without consulting them first. Every support plan is flexible, but commitment and communication are absolutely essential to make sure it continues to meet your child’s needs.
2. Download apps that reinforce occupational therapy concepts.
Reinforcing occupational therapy? Yes, there is an app for that! In fact, there are several different mobile apps for children with developmental disabilities. If you find one that works for your child, reinforcing their skills could be as easy as handing them a smartphone and letting them play. Your child’s support plan and therapists will tell you which tasks or skills they are working on right now, so you can choose the apps accordingly. ASD Tools is designed for children with autism, and it includes schedules, timers, visual learning guides, and even rewards to encourage progress. If your child struggles with emotional or physical control, Zones of Regulation teaches coping mechanisms as kids learn to navigate the different “zones” of self-regulation.
3. Choose gifts and activities that build the right skills.
Building skills and working toward therapy goals do not have to be separate, deliberate activities that you schedule at home. Instead, they should infuse every decision you make for your child. Every toy, game, and day at the park is another opportunity to reinforce your child’s occupational therapy concepts. For example, if your toddler is working on their rhythm or coordination, consider musical toys and games that encourage them to keep a beat. If your preteen is developing an adaptive behavior, such as shopping or understanding social cues, set up a fake store in the yard and go “shopping” to help them practice.
Reinforcing positive behavior at home does not have to be a chore. Keeping consistent, using technology, and directing activities to achieve your child’s goals are all ways to create a positive learning environment at home.
To learn more about occupational therapy for children with disabilities and how we help kids thrive, contact Integrity, Inc. at (501) 406-0442. With your help, we can work to ensure that children with disabilities develop lifelong strategies that stick.