Why Isn’t My Child Making Progress? The Importance of Home Programs

Many of my clients have great attendance to occupational therapy. I will see them for either one or two sessions per week, depending on their needs. Since occupational therapy is a client-centered profession, each session is individually tailored with two things in mind: first, the client’s immediate needs (such as their current sensory processing ability); and second, their long-term measurable goals. OTs work hard to identify barriers to success in all aspects of the child’s life, then devise a program to improve independence across all skill levels and environments.

But I am often asked, why isn’t my child making progress? Or, why isn’t he learning this skill faster?

After each session, your therapist will want to talk to you about her clinical observations and the child’s performance throughout the session. This conversation is incredibly important because the therapist will also give you tips and techniques for teaching these skills at home to improve retention of skills. These techniques are vital for you to practice at home (we call it “carryover”) so your child can progress.

Remember, your therapist will only see your child for 30 – 60 minutes one time per week, which leaves 6 days and 23 hours before you see the therapist again! One or two sessions of therapy per week, unless it includes carryover when the child leaves therapy, is not enough to see significant progress. 90% of solidified learning happens at home when you and your child can practice these specific exercises in your natural environment where the child is comfortable.

On the whole, we see better progress toward long-term goals with families that follow through with suggested therapy techniques than with those who choose not to implement our suggestions.

We know you are busy – other children, jobs, household chores, extracurricular activities, etc. – so we try to give you ideas for carryover that are feasible to fit into your day without adding stress to your life. We want to collaborate with you to help your child succeed – not just in therapy but out in his or her environment. Your participation in carryover is vital for us to accomplish that goal!

If you have any questions, talk to your therapist about games or activities you can do at home with your child to improve carryover and, ultimately, your childs independence!

Claire Whatley, MS, OTR/L

Image Courtesy Pixabay

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