For children and young people with complex disability, the formal therapy sessions that your child has with their OT, Speech Pathologist and Physiotherapist are invaluable to support them to meet their therapy goals. However, these formal sessions will be more effective and your child’s therapy journey will be even further supported when therapy is incorporated into your child’s day-to-day activities at home. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a therapist to pull this off and it doesn’t need to feel like “therapy” for your child or for your family.
Your child’s therapist can help you with ideas for therapy activities at home that are tailored to your child, their goals and that fit in with family life easily.
To get you started, here are some ideas that you might like to discuss with your child’s therapy team.
The goal with speech therapy is to support your child with communication, understanding and feeding (where applicable). Here are some ideas to try at home:
Repetition is one of the ways that your child will learn new language skills. For example, they might be practising the “p” sound. Each time they make the “p” sound get them to transfer a marble from one bowl to another until all of the marbles have been transferred.
Reading to your child exposes them to new words and helps to improve their own literacy skills. Try to make story time a special time that you spend with your child when distractions are minimal, like just before bed.
Blowing bubbles is so much fun! If your child is able to blow bubbles, it’s a great way for them to strengthen the tiny little muscles around their mouth that are needed for speech and eating.
The goal with occupational therapy for children and young people with complex disability is to support the skills that they need for everyday activities, the things that they do throughout the day. This might include fine motor skills, skills to support them at school and skills needed for dressing, feeding, toileting and so on. Here’s are some ideas:
Fun with foam
We’ve already covered blowing bubbles for speech therapy at home but placing foam or bubbles on a tray is also great fun! Your child can squish and pop to their heart’s content, giving their hand muscles a great work out. You can experiment with coloured bubbles and shaving foam for different sensory experiences.
There are so many sensory toys on the market now that it can be hard to know where to start! A sensory toy is really any object that provides your child with sensory feedback so don’t think that you need to spend a lot of money. A sensory toy can be any toy that buzzes or beeps, it can be a fidget spinner, poppet or things that feel interesting like play clay or strings of beads.
Physiotherapy for children with complex disability can look very different for each child. The goal of physiotherapy is to help your child to take part in the physical aspects of everyday life to the best of their ability. Here are a few ideas that you may be able to try at home:
You’ll need at least two people for this fun game so it’s a good one to get siblings to help with and it’s fun! You’ll need a start and finish line, then both “players” sit on their bottom on the floor with their knees up. Each player takes turns to roll a dice and the player with the highest number gets to move forward one scoot. The first player to the finish line is the winner!
Pop-up play tunnels and tents
Pop-up play tunnels and tents are easy to pack down and store when you’re not using them and provide the opportunity for your child to improve their gross motor skills and can encourage creativity and also offer a sensory escape.
Stretch and reach
Encouraging your child to stretch and reach for objects such as toys can help them with their range of motion and flexibility. Try to place or hold objects just out of reach so that they will need to stretch to get them.
Play and movement
Don’t underestimate the value of physical play, it can really help your child to meet some of their goals. Depending on your child’s ability, consider riding a trike, shooting hoops in a mini basketball net and dancing to their favourite songs. Try to encourage physical and fun movement as much as possible.
Therapy at home is a great way to help your child to achieve their therapy goals in consultation with your child’s therapy team and in conjunction with their formal therapy sessions.
Our team of experienced Speech Pathologists, Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists are here to provide support for children and young people with complex disability so that they can improve their ability and quality of life. Therapy sessions can take place in your home throughout Brisbane and the greater Brisbane area or at one of our therapy clinic locations listed below.
Xavier Community Therapy Clinics