Helping Your Client to Optimally Attend: Advice for Pediatric Therapists

“Show me you’re ready!” As a Pediatric Occupational Therapist, I can’t even begin to guess how many times this utterance is repeatedchild attending throughout my day in the therapy gym. While I’m sure that my clients think I sound like a broken record, the bottom line is that if they’re not ready to pay attention, they’re not going to learn what I’m teaching.  What does it look like when a client is ready to attend?  Here are three important ways for young clients to show you, their therapist, they are ready to work and learn.

Three Tips to Gain Maximum Attention from Pediatric Therapy Clients:

  1. Ready Body: The body is still and facing the person who is speaking. It is not jumping, running, or facing other areas of the room.
  2. Eyes on the Speaker: The eyes are watching the person who is speaking. I’ve seen greater success when I am able to position my body in such a way that a child can look straight ahead into my eyes as opposed to gazing up while I’m standing. Make sure you’re body is seated or crouched down so that you’re at the child’s eye level. Kids have a much better chance of gaining and maintaining eye-contact at this plane of sight.
  3. Quiet Mouth and Listening Ears: When explaining something to your young clients, make sure that you are the only one talking. Conversely, when they are telling you about their ideas or explaining something that they did at school, make sure that you are modeling the correct way to be a good listener: With a quiet mouth and listening ears. In the clinic, I will occasionally use a “talking token.” When this “talking token” is in use, only the person holding it is allowed to speak. Pass the token back and forth with your client to help them physically understand whose turn it is to share words out loud.

It may take some practice, but helping your pediatric therapy clients to know what is expected of their bodies while listening to directions will be extremely helpful for your interactions in your therapy sessions.  Click here for more advice for pediatric therapists on using pairing during sessions.

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