Home programs are essential to progress in therapy. They provide the repetition essential for learning of new skills.
However, I’ve had several parents come to me recently with home programs that were 20+ pages. I know that those programs were giving choices for activities, but parents shared that they were just too overwhelming and the programs were shuffled into a drawer. So here are some of my thoughts about home programs:
1. A home program activity has to be easy for your child to do in a therapy session. If it isn’t easy for me to do with them then it’s not ready for a home program.
2. Home program activities should be short and very specific. As your child make progress, the home program changes so I don’t spend a lot of time printing or writing out suggestions; stick figures and a short explanation in addition to my verbal/physical instructions are all it takes.
3. I choose a maximum of 3 (preferably only 2) short activities and we decide together how they can be worked into daily routines (teeth brushing, after school TV time, right before homework etc.).
4. The home program has to fit on one piece of paper that can be tacked to the fridge/bathroom mirror/bulletin board.
5. Recently, I’ve had parents ask me if we could use their smartphone to take pictures or video to augment my written instructions(hurray for technology!).
6. Finally, at the next visit I will ask “How did the home program go?” This is not a judgement but rather information gathering – were the suggestions too easy or too hard, was the family extremely busy that week or was your child unwell and not up to the program? All of this gives me a better understanding of where we are at and how best to move forward.
If you receive a home program that doesn’t work for you, share with your therapist what challenges you experienced regarding the activities. Together you can come up with a home program that supports your child’s progress.
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