We learned early on that the best way to help Abby with her development is to just adopt a therapy lifestyle. We don't "check off" her therapy when it's done each day. That could limit her therapy to just 10 or 15 minutes a day, and she needs much more than that to be successful.
Instead, we incorporate therapy into our daily activities so that they are embedded into everyday life. Most of the time, Abby doesn't even realize she's working!
Here are a few examples of ways we incorporate therapy into our day to day activities:
* We have Abby push any doorbells and elevator buttons (she has to stand on her tiptoes, which strengthens and stretches her leg muscles and improves the arches of her feet)
* At the grocery store, we have her call out the names of the fruits and vegetables she sees. We discuss the color, the shape, and the size. We'll also compare the sizes of different types of produce. It's amazing how much language you can get in at the grocery store!
* We encourage Abby to switch her feet as we go up and down the stairs, so that she is taking alternating steps. She also counts the steps as she walks. We try to build a language component into just about everything!!
* The bath tub is a great place to work on fine motor and language! Abby loves to pour water from one cup to another. We have a game where we see how long we can keep a cup of water going...the less she spills while she is pouring, the longer the water will last! She counts each time she pours. She also has a water toy that spins and funnels the water as you pour it, which is also good for her fine motor skills. We have spray foam soap and bath tub paint that she loves to practice writing in. She'll write her name (with help) or I will write letters for her to name and give the sound.
* I keep crayons and a coloring book in the diaper bag. Coloring is a fabulous fine motor activity! We have her (whenever possible) color while she is lying on her belly so that it strengthens her core muscles. Sometimes, I will do leg stretches as she colors...until she notices. :)
* We sing all of the time! She especially loves songs that have motions! Seriously, I can sing while I'm scrubbing the bathroom and she is perfectly happy. I like to sing as an eating motivator too. She has to finish a certain cup of milk before we finish the next verse!
* One of Abby's gross motor goals is to walk on a line. At home, our road has a kind-of line going right down the middle. We will often walk on it going to and from the bus stop. Her goal is to put one foot in front of the other, but she still needs a hand. In Baltimore, we have lots of curbs for her to walk on. She thinks it's so funny to walk on the curb while I'm below!
* Abby loves the idea of bowling with this little plastic bowling set they have at RMH, and it's good for her to work on throwing or rolling a ball in a particular direction. She wasn't feeling the rolling the other day, so she kicked the (plastic) ball to knock down the pins. I'm good with that! Kicking is good for her muscles too!
For those of you who have a kiddo with language or motor delays, I hope you have allowed yourself permission to avoid the therapy check-off list. I'm sure you already do so much for your child already--just be intentional in the activities you do and look for ways to build in language, fine, and gross motor activities. I personally think that therapy is so much more effective when in the context of every day activities, rather than as a separate component. Plus, then that's one less thing on your already huge "to do" list! Just build it in.
I would absolutely love to hear other ways you build in therapy to your lifestyle! Feel free to share them!!