"Homework" Essential for Pediatric Therapy Patients
For children with developmental delays, orthopedic and/or medically complex issues, outpatient therapy with pediatric physical, speech and occupational therapists can be extremely helpful in maximizing function and independence. But when hectic family schedules and other factors interfere with the recommended amount of time spent with a therapist, there is a lot that you can do at home to reinforce the skills learned at therapy.
At Good Shepherd Pediatrics, the duration and frequency of therapy is decided upon by the therapist after an initial evaluation – based upon the child’s needs. Often the therapist’s recommendation (ex: 45 minutes, 3 days a week) is not feasible due to family obligations, travel time and/or available therapy appointments. (Before- and after-school hours are among the most difficult to schedule.)
If you are unable to schedule the recommended duration and frequency of therapy, don’t panic! Talk to your therapist. He or she will work with you to maximize therapy time, which might include recommending a Good Shepherd outpatient location closer to home. He or she also will discuss strategies to reinforce therapy skills at home.
Some of those strategies may include:
- Complete the home exercise program provided by your therapist daily.
- Involve your child in community activities to practice social skills. Consider attending story time at your local library, joining Girl/Boy Scouts or getting involved with the Miracle League. (Good Shepherd is a sponsor of the Miracle League of the Lehigh Valley and the Miracle League of Northampton County.)
- Plan family activities to encourage social interaction and gross motor development. You can ride bikes, volunteer in the community, walk around your neighborhood, swim, hike, fly kites, etc.
- Establish routines for bedtime, bath time, meal times and for getting ready in the morning. Routines provide children with structure and will help to manage behaviors.
- Decrease screen time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting children’s engagement with entertainment media (cell phones, computers, television, video games) to no more than one or two hours per day. “Screen time” is proven to increase fussiness and decrease attention spans.