Occupational therapy home programs are a crucial component to the success of your child’s occupational therapy, because most children attend therapy only one to two times per week. Your child’s occupational therapist will provide you and your child with specific activities to work on at home in order to continue progress toward your child’s goals. Home programs vary depending on a child’s individual needs and the programs can address a variety of different skills.
Below is a description of some common occupational therapy home program activities, as well as their purpose as it relates to your child’s treatment plan.
- Sensory Diet – a sensory diet is a set of activities designed to meet the sensory needs of your child. A sensory diet may include heavy work, movement, tactile (touch), feeding, or oral-motor activities. Your child’s therapist will work with you to design a sensory diet that works well for your schedule and your child’s individual profile. If your therapist recommends a sensory diet, it is important to have your child participate in these activities, daily, in order to help him or her maintain an optimum level of regulation. It also gives your child the ability to learn and engage with his or her environment.
- Exercises – a home exercise program may include various exercises for you to complete at home with your child. These exercises may be targeted at building muscle strength in your child’s fingers, hands, upper extremities, core, or even eye muscles. Exercises may also be targeted at building balance, posture, or body awareness. Most exercises given to you by your therapist will not look like exercises. This is because your therapist wants the home program to be fun and motivating for your child to complete.
- Skill Development – occupational therapy home programs targeted at skill development may be recommended by your therapist. This may include having your child complete specific worksheets, activities, or even play games in order to directly build a skill. Common activities may include mazes (to develop fine motor and visual motor skills), handwriting assignments, or even a request to have your child shop for and bring back materials to complete a craft activity (to target organization and planning skills).
Your child’s participation in occupational therapy home programs, in conjunction with participation in therapy sessions consistently at the recommended frequency, will maximize your child’s progress in therapy.