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SEVEN TIPS TO THERAPY SUCCESS

I’ve just returned from a blogging conference and I think some of the things I learned could help across other environments including therapy. It’s not rocket science and you may already be doing these things but it is a reminder if you have lost your way. I hope my seven tips will help you achieve therapy success or at least get a clear focus on your goals.

When BJ was younger I tried to be Super Mum which resulted in burn out.  A friend at the conference summed up one of my problems, “When emotions are high, logic is low.”  It is hard to keep perspective on what you are trying to achieve when you are feeling overwhelmed by the amount there is to do.

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There was sitting practice, eye therapy, speech therapy, standing practice and more. Every day was full.

As a parent working on your child’s therapy or as an individual working towards therapy goals, it is important to remember that it isn’t a sprint to the finish line. It’s more of a marathon and therefore strategies are needed for endurance.

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SEVEN TIPS TO SUCCESS

Here are my tips, plus some examples of how this has helped us over time

  1. Focus and prioritise – take some time to prioritise the many tasks you have on your list. Focus on a couple that are going to have the greatest impact.  Make this goal a priority across all environments and communicate it to others i.e. school, day program, pre-school and other family members.
  2. Set realistic goals – chat to a therapist and work out what is realistic when you are setting goals.  Don’t over commit – you want to be consistent with your efforts.
  3. Break it down – Setting a goal for BJ to walk as a short term goal wouldn’t have been realistic when he was younger.  A goal of him walking 10 steps with a walking frame every day was realistic. Break your goal down to several achievable tasks.  As you make progress, move to the next goal.
  4. Remember the ‘why’ – BJ self-propelling his own wheelchair was important because we knew it would give him more independence.  Keeping this in mind helped us to persevere through the frustrating times. We also have to find what motivates BJ to put in the hard work.  Make no mistake it is hard work for him so there needs to be something in it for him.

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    Remember the person doing the therapy has to understand the why. Kicking a soccer ball makes walking practice more motivating.
  5. Consistency – set aside time every day to work on your goal.  Work out the best time of day and schedule it into your day.  If, for example, we wanted BJ to use his walking frame to get to the car each day we would allow extra time for it.
  6. Maximise every opportunity – look for opportunities throughout the day to incorporate your goal into your routine or into a motivating situation.  Donuts are highly motivating for BJ so once the   donut shop was in view he couldn’t get there fast enough. This made it a great time to practice self-propelling his wheelchair.
  7. Persistence – This is probably the hardest point.  Sometimes it feels like no progress is being made.  Make sure you see the small gains along the way, keep focused and remember your ‘why’. BJ looked like he would NEVER learn to push his own wheelchair.  I credit a high school teacher with his success.  Every afternoon BJ was desperate to get on the bus but she would not push him there.  It would have been quicker and easier for her to push him but she invested time and effort which has resulted in a lifelong skill and independence for him. Waiting, I should add, drove the bus driver nuts!  But her persistence and expectation was key to him mastering this skill and I am forever grateful.
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Not only can BJ self-propel his manual wheelchair but because of a dedicated and motivating Occupational Therapist he can also use an electric wheelchair.

Lastly, don’t beat yourself up.  If you miss a day, get back on track the next day.  Aim for consistency but don’t expect perfection.

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