Does your child have fun in therapy? He should most of the time or at least some of the time. A fun therapy sessions means the child is engaged. A child engaged will try harder. A child who feels safe will want to give that extra effort. An engaged child laughs and smiles and tries harder. Connect first, work second and watch the child progress.
Our brains have different levels. A thinking level and an automatic response level. A child who is crying, hiding, running away and/or having a tantrum is not in a thinking state. The thinking parts of the brain are not working. The lower levels are taking over. Reasoning is not working because the child does not feel safe. The child is telling us something is wrong, the child is saying give me time, and/or the child is telling us he is confused.
When a therapists gets down on the child’s level and engages in connection prior to working towards goals, Good Things happen. The child no longer needs stickers and stamps as they want to engage. The child performs because it feels good to them deep inside.
What are some things therapist might do to make therapy more fun
- Greet me and give a compliment the moment I enter your therapy center
- Give me time by taking a moment to greet mom prior to taking me into the therapy session
- Give me a job to help distract me as me move into therapy
- Have a plan ahead of time, unstructured time gives me time to become anxious
- Ask me where I want mom or dad to sit, thus allowing me the knowledge that mom will always be in that spot when I am returned to her.
- When you need to take me from my parent in an upset state, move me from my parent. Having mom or dad walk away can be frightening.
- Know my history. My history may tell you why I am upset
- In session, give me your full attention. Looking at the tablet, writing notes or talking with mom about football, tells me that I am not your number one priority.
- Be flexible and say, “YES” more often.
- Connections means physical contact, give me a hug, touch my arm, stroke my hair, feed me that goldfish used as a reward, help me when I’m frustrated. In the end, I will then feel safe and have the ability to try harder.
- Do not feel you are supposed to teach me everything. A speech therapists job is to teach speech, do not to let your history and bias about my behavior stand in the way of teaching me speech.
- Understand my behavior is telling you something. Automatically assuming I am spoiled does no good.
- Make sure you are having fun, laugh with me, be silly. When you are stressed, so am I.
- Know your limits and know mine. If you are having a bad day, take that into account as you set up the session. If mom just told you I had a bad day, realize I may be done and just need connection. Connection today may mean I am able to work harder tomorrow.
- If in the end of the session, you feel you have won a battle. Realize, I have lost connection and thus the progress is only temporary.
- I may not be emotionally ready to do different things without mom. Can therapy not progress from mom in the room doing the therapy, to mom watching, to mom waiting outside in a special spot?
- I am not a little adult. Give me choices, encourage me and most of all get on the floor with me.
- Sometime, when you see me starting to loose it, find a way for me to start using my thinking brain. Trying to help me use my thinking brain by being silly, asking a dumb question, asking me to do something easy but off the wall or distracting me may keep my thinking brain on and prevent my from moving into fight, flight or freeze.
- And remember, always remember: Sometimes things break. It’s not the breaking that matters, the why or how. Its how we choose to respond to the broken-ness that really MATTERS.
Does your therapist need ideas? https://starfishtherapies.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/creative-ideas-for-accomplishing-therapy-tasks/
More ideas from a therapist. https://speechteachrp.wordpress.com/2014/06/22/the-more-things-change-the-more-they-stay-the-same/
A post from long ago: https://transitionalmoment.wordpress.com/2012/12/02/pediatric-therapy-good-or-great/
It seems that every so often I am in rutt. I feel like everything is a routine and one day goes into the next. I try to push through these moods then I take a moment and realize the children I working with are in need of fun.
I have a theory laughter creates a memory and when you pair it in a learning environment you wind up with children who are laughing and eager to participate and learning well it is part of the activity.
I know it sounds so simple but adding fun which always involves (some creative craft for me ) adds to the productive speech therapy sessions I provide.
Providing an environment where fun is the main goal creates an unbelievable bond between me and the children I am working with. It also allows me to let the fun be the main ingredient in this activity.
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