Therapy – One Size Doesn’t Fit All

June 5, 2024
By Kindred

When it comes to therapy, what works for one child may not work for another. Your child has their own likes, dislikes, and things that motivate or bother them – and that’s ok. 

Your family is unique too, and therapy should fit into your lives in a way that works for everyone. Maybe you have other kids, work commitments to juggle, or cultural aspects to think about.

If the therapy session isn’t working, it might just mean that some adjustments need to be made. Before you give up on therapy or look for somewhere new, here are ideas you could consider.

Discuss With the Therapist

Talk to your child’s therapist about any concerns or what isn’t working. They may be able to change their approach to better suit your child’s needs. 

What could this look like?

  • “I have noticed my child is less engaged when it is time to…”
  • “Are there any other ways we could work towards this goal?”
  • “Can we talk about some of the things my child is interested in to see if this sparks an idea for therapy sessions?”

Adjust the Schedule

If the current therapy schedule is causing conflicts with other activities or responsibilities, see if there’s a way to shift the timing to better fit into your family’s routine.

What could this look like?

  • Could you have shorter sessions more frequently?
  • Could you alternate your child’s sessions with an appointment of your own to build skills to support them?
  • Is your session too late in the day or the week for your child’s energy levels?

We do understand though, this can be tricky as we are often restricted by what’s available. It can be worthwhile going on a waitlist until something more suitable becomes available.

Identify Motivators

Figure out what motivates your child and use those motivators in their therapy sessions. It could be a favourite toy, activity, or special treat.

What could this look like?

  • Mohammed’s OT plays the Pokemon theme tune as they warm up for a physical session and calls him her ‘ultra trainer!’.
  • Sasha’s speechie has had a lot more engagement from her since they started using her Barbies to roleplay conversations.
  • Physiotherapy isn’t something to dread anymore since it has become part of Paul’s weekly ‘mum & son date’. First they exchange books at the library, then he has his appointment, and afterwards they go for a milkshake together. The special time worked in around sessions makes it all go a lot more smoothly.

Involving Family and Friends

Involve siblings, cousins or friends to create a more fun environment, especially if you are working on social skills. Who better to learn with than the actual people they are socialising with.

What could this look like?

  • Booking a session at home or school.
  • Organising to have a playmate attend a session with your child.
  • Planning a therapy session in a social environment such as a local park.

Change of Scenery

Explore therapy sessions outside the clinic – at home, outdoors, or even in community settings like playgrounds or libraries. The best environment will depend on your child and the goals that you are working on.

What could this look like?

  • Your therapist supporting play interactions for your child’s social development.
  • Your therapist assisting your child to navigate play equipment for their physical development.
  • Your therapist engaging with your child in particular environments to work on topical speech development in a more authentic way.

Support Beyond Therapy 

Explore options where the therapist provides support that benefits your child indirectly, such as creating resources or communicating with your school about adjustments your child needs. 

What could this look like?

  • Attending a planning meeting with you or on your behalf.
  • Creating resources such as communication cards or visual schedules for you to use.
  • Contacting educators to provide recommendations for accessibility adjustments.

Seek Support 

Reach out to support groups or other parents whose children also attend therapy. They may have valuable insights and suggestions you can try, based on their experiences.

What could this look like?

  • Join a network of parents on journeys like yours, such as Kindred Community!
  • Attend a MyTime session to meet families with therapy experience.
  • Ask if your therapist offers group sessions to connect children and their carers with each other.

Consider Cultural Factors 

Discuss with the therapist the cultural background, beliefs, or customs that are important to your family. This can give them a greater understanding and help tailor therapy to your child’s needs and your family’s values.

What could this look like?

  • Dōngméi’s emotion cards were made by her speechie with input from her Mum and Dad. They are double sided and have the same emoji on both sides, but Dōngméi can flip them to see and use the word in either language.
  • Haani’s OT knows to keep their sessions a bit more gentle and relaxed during Ramadan as his energy levels are likely to be a bit low.
  • Daniel has been learning about seasons to help him tolerate more weather appropriate clothing. Linking this knowledge to his family’s Hebrew calendar and the festivals he knows made the therapy session even more personal for Daniel.

Remember, no two children are the same, and finding the right approach may require some trial and error. The most important thing to remember is that as a parent, you are the expert in your child. And the best outcomes will happen when you and your therapist are working in partnership.


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