After a child’s Cerebral Palsy diagnosis, early medical and therapy intervention is often the critical next step. The name for the critical therapies aimed at helping your child overcome certain Cerebral Palsy-related challenges, early intervention can come in a wide range of forms. Ultimately, though, the goal of any therapy effort is to help with your child’s future. For that reason, we recommend keeping an open mind on ways you can introduce themes of your child’s therapies into his or her everyday life.
If your child is involved in Occupational Therapy, you’re likely already aware of the ways therapists attempt to mimic future tasks through play. Building your child’s dexterity and ability to someday use utensils at the dinner table may be bolstered through playing with chopsticks or small finger movements. In this way, the child is hopefully built up in ways that can have powerful impacts down the road. By looking at everyday life through this same prism, you may find ways to help your child with tasks now and in the future through play and more!
So what do we mean by finding therapy opportunities throughout the day? In short, expanding lessons from therapy can be as fun or creative as you want it to be. For children with dexterity issues, challenge them to move pens/crayons/markers hand-to-hand or to remove and replace the cap a few times before returning it. Pairing and folding socks can also help with fingers and motor control; patterns in your laundry can even be a game of I Spy! Overall, such an effort takes into account the work being done in therapy and introduces it into your home, preferably in a fun atmosphere!
Other therapy-centric ideas to consider:
- Walking along tile lines
- Using Jenga blocks to describe directions or buildings in town
- Crumpling paper for shooting trashcan basketball
- Playing animal Bingo while watching nature shows
- Keeping lists and checking items off when shopping
- Setting the table in fun, ‘wacky’ ways to make shapes, pictures
- Helping keep score of games on TV
- Finger painting stories at any age
These are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of ideas. We encourage you to speak with your child’s various therapists to find out what fun ways you can continue the critical lessons they are learning. By having them be a part of general tasks and everyday routines, rather than structured and formal, your child may end up learning without realizing it, all in a low-pressure environment.
What different ideas do you use to encourage your child’s therapy lessons at home?