The Hailey Herald

The Hailey Herald

Monday, October 15, 2012

31 for 21: What Does Therapy Look Like

About a year ago, I had a friend give me grief about Hailey's therapy (we started therapy at 6 weeks old).  He said that I should just let her play and be a little girl.  I think the term "therapy" can be misleading to some people.  Most of us think of therapy when someone has been injured and they are trying to regain the muscle or movement that they once had.

With Hailey, we are working with her physical therapist to build more muscle, more coordination to get her walking, running, jumping.  We work with her speech therapist to get her speaking, saying sounds, signing, communicating.  Her occupational therapist we work more with fine motor skills.

No, Hailey isn't doing 100 squats to work on her upper leg strength.  We have her work on repetitive motion, but she thinks she is playing.  I have her stand at a small table and throw her ball on the floor.  She will squat down, pick it up and hand it to me.  I will hold the edge of a hula hoop and have her hold the other side.  I will walk backwards while she walks towards me.  We read books while she is kneeling (this way she doesn't pay attention to the kneeling).  In the evening, I will have her crawl up the steps for her bath.  Trust me...the stairs are not work for her.  She is positive she is doing something forbidden!

I think there are a lot of misconceptions with speech therapy.  Yes, a big part of it is speaking and that is our ultimate goal.  There is so much more to speech therapy.  Communication is crucial...that truly is more important than almost anything.  Her speech therapist works with her on drinking from a straw.  We also go through an alphabet and make the sounds of all the letters.  We work with, bottom, over, under.  We have introduced flashcards and work on identification of common items.  We are continuing to encourage sign language and introducing new words.   Books are an excellent source of new words.  We read books and point to objects we know.

We are on a break with occupational therapy, but that is a lot of fine motor skills.  The pincher grasp for eating.  Picking up the coins for her pig bank and putting them in the slot.  Using utensils for eating.  Holding crayons to write one day.  Pointing.  Manipulating toys in a shape sorter.

We don't schedule "exercise" time every day.  We basically just "play" with Hailey.  She doesn't realize she is working on specific exercises or skill set.  In the end, it makes us all happy!

Here are a few examples....

We work with baby dolls.  We feed them bottles, we rock them, we pat them on the back and we put them to sleep.

We read books.  We point to pictures, animals, shapes and colors.

We take Hailey to situations where she doesn't like crawling on all 4s.  This makes her bear crawl which uses different muscles and eventually will help her stand up using her muscle strength.

 Here Hailey wasn't allowed to have her ball unless she pulled herself into a standing position and took steps toward her therapist.  Hailey was then allowed the ball and threw it to her big brother.  We played catch until she fell and then started the process all over again.  I think this day she stood up, took steps and tossed the ball about 25-30 times.  She worked hard and didn't realize it.  She laughed through most of it.

Here she is walking around the table without leaning on it strengthening her core (not using her stomach as an extra limb).  

Practicing walking on different surfaces and working on stamina.

Working on her core...not using anything for support.  Yes, she is kissing herself!

Working on putting the coins into the piggy bank.  Yes, we could have completed this task sitting on the floor but we needed more challenge.  She is standing at the table.  I scattered the coins around the table so she had to walk around it to pick them up and return them to the pig.

Yes, she is clapping for herself.

 In short, therapy is exercising.  Exercising her muscles, large and small, and exercising her brain.  Isn't that what we all do to stay in good shape for a better future?


  1. Love the pig pictures. I always tell people that therapy is more for me than for Bridgie. Yes the therapist works with her while she is there but only a couple times a month. The rest is up to us. The therapist gets me thinking in directions I may or may not have thought of.

    1. We love, love, love the pig! I was excited too when we had a friend's typical son (6 months older than Hailey) not able to put the coins in and Hailey could. Probably mean, wasn't it?!?!?

  2. You start thinking a whole new way about can i implement therapy into this toy..or if this toy isnt really therapy usage then i wont buy the picture of her clapping for herself..Avery does that too!!!:)

    1. I definitely look at toys in a whole new way! You are right though, if it doesn't help hit a therapy goal, I don't want it!

  3. Therapy is so clever!!

  4. Ben has lots of therapy appointments but life at home is normal. Ben plays most of the day!