One of the questions we get asked regularly is: How come you don’t always bring toys with you when you come for an in-home session? Although there are times when it is appropriate for a clinician to bring some tools/toys from our clinic into your home, there are at least 5 good reasons why your toys and resources are often better than ours.
1. We can show you how to use the resources in your home differently The first session is about getting to know your child, your family, and your resources (e.g. toys available, outdoor equipment, craft supplies, and more). An early interventionist might ask you to show him/her what you have available for your child. To a therapist, the toys and other resources in your home, including other family members, are so much more than meets the eye. They look at each item, or person, as a means to work with your child on skills such as communication, sensory integration, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, trunk control, coordination, focus, regulation. Using your toys and resources allows us to teach you how to look at your environment in a therapeutic way. This is the best approach to help your child. It makes your toolkit more powerful long after our session is over.
2. Collaboration is the key ingredient
Our approach is collaborative, we therefore want parents to join us and learn how to best help their child to overcome his/her deficits. We realize that, once the session is over, the therapist leaves with the toys he/she brought. If you don’t have the same toys as your clinician, it might be challenging for you to continue an activity that worked well for your child during the session. The goal is for you to be able to continue working with your child after the therapist has left your home. If we use your toys instead of ours, you will be able to repeat the activity on your own and your little one will get the help he/she needs every day.
3. It’s not the amount of toys that makes therapy more effective
Some of our most successful sessions have been with no toys at all. There are many ways to tap into a child’s motivation center and maximize therapy. Toys can sometimes distract from the actual goal. A child might benefit more from a wheel barrel race or an improvised obstacle course made from the pillows on your couch. We can use your environment in many ways to help your child. For example, pots and wooden spoons can be turned into a drum set, helping a child work on gross motor skills and coordination. Cotton balls and straws can become an improvised snowball race, giving your child a chance to work on gross motor skills and oral motor skills.
4. Your home has what you need to help your child
No matter how little or how much you have, your home has exactly what you need to help your child. It has you and other loving family members, and it has the toys or resources you have selected especially for your child. This means that whatever is in your home has more meaning for your little one than anything our clinicians can bring into the session. Your daily routine is rich in opportunities that can be tapped into to help your child communicate, socialize and meet his/her developmental milestones. Our staff is trained to utilize the tools in your natural environment to help you and your child.
5. The goal of therapy is generalization into your child’s daily routine
Generalization, the real goal of early intervention, is the ability to take a skill learned in one environment and apply it to other situations or contexts. The toy bag comes from our clinic, therefore, it distracts from the powerful tools available to your child at all times. If we use our toys, you and your child might have fun with it during the session, but it might not lead to generalization of the skills learned. We don’t want the therapeutic outcomes to be conditional on our toys. Instead, your child’s unique environment, along with his/her family and caregivers, can help him/her reach the very best developmental results. Generalization is facilitated in a child’s natural environment, using tools, toys and resources available to him/her every day.
CDI is always happy to answer any questions you may have regarding Early Intervention and the many therapeutic services we offer (e.g. Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Child and Family Mental Health, Developmental Support, and Therapeutic Groups). Our mission is to help all children reach their full potential by supporting the relationships and environments that shape early development. We see clients in our clinic, the community and in their homes. We look forward to helping your child reach his/her developmental milestones.