How routines can provide the structure for successful therapy sessions
Establishing routines has been one of the most valuable skills that I have found in structuring my speech and language sessions. The implementation of this varies from client to client but has proved to help establish sessions that are predictable, smooth and ultimately successful. This tactic may be the missing piece that allows a child to really show you what they’ve got!
Following a child’s lead can provide you with the structure that you need to create an initial routine, especially with younger ones or children who have not participated in a structured environment before. This routine can be as simple or as complex as you would like to make it.
A routine may involve going from the therapy room out to get a toy, and then back to the room for client’s who have not yet discovered that the room they are in is a fun place to be.
A routine may involve getting up to pick a preferred toy and then being redirected back to a specific location (cube chair, table, etc.) in order to play with the toy.
A routine may involve a picture schedule or a token reinforcement system to help a client understand what is coming next.
A routine may involve preselected toys on the table that the child can then be in control of choosing the order of actives.
A routine may involve participating in a sensory activity such as swinging or spinning in a chair and then stopping the activity in order for the child to request to continue.
The common thread in each of these is that there is predictability in what will come next and what is expected. After participating in a routine for a brief period of time, a child can begin to anticipate the next step and can become more willing to participate in “harder” activities.
Routines can look drastically different, but provide the fundamental structure that is needed for a successful session. When a child (and the therapist!) has the basic idea of the expectations of the environment that they are participating in, it provides a foundation that can be built upon. Within this structure, gradual changes can be made to push a client outside of his comfort zone because there is an ultimate safety in predictability. Combine this with some fun and games and you have a recipe for success!
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