Parents no longer play the role of the ‘observer’ in occupational therapy of their child but act as ‘partners’ to the therapist in their child’s therapy process. Family-centred practice is gaining popularity worldwide and parent training programs are being used to shift focus from the traditional model to the ideal family-centred model. Recent studies have shown that building parent training into an occupational therapy program increasess its effectiveness and accelerates the progress of a child
Why is parent involvement critical?
When it comes to Occupational therapy, early intervention is very important in determining the effectiveness of therapy. Early engagement in occupational training through various home-based activities with parents, plays a critical role in facilitating and helping children in the early years of life.
Therapy programs that provide training and consultations to parents usually make a significant difference in a child’s learning outcomes.
Occupational therapy shouldn’t be confined to therapy sessions only. The occupational therapist has direct influence on the child within the therapy session. However, by training and involving parents, the therapist can indirectly influence the progress of the child. Through teaching the parent different techniques a therapist can influence the child’s development everyday within the comfort of the child's home.
When parents become an active part of the process, they are better able to understand and relate to their child. Frequent consultations with the therapists keep the parents educated and updated about the process and improves the patient’s recovery progress.
Parent consultations and increased involvement can also empower the parents and the patient. Parents can also learn about the ethical considerations and policies of the program. Once they get to know about the confidentiality policies and reporting procedures, parents are better equipped to protect their child from any maltreatment.
How can I get started?
A specially trained OT will be able to coach and train you through the process and form a personalised therapy plan that introduces techniques to support your child. Occupational therapists use everyday activities and exercises to help with overcoming barriers that affect a person's emotional, social, and physical needs. However, you can adopt some of the following basic strategies depending on your child’s condition at home to help you get started:
- Get special equipment to help build their independence e.g. wheelchairs, splints, bathing equipment, and communication aids
- Encourage enjoyment in activity instead of focusing on a successful outcome (e.g. appreciate if a drawing is completed instead of focusing on how neat it is)
- If your child struggles with an activity, then try and make it easier. You can also drop it and come back to it later
- Give lots of encouragement and praise good attempts, even if they are not perfect
- Master basic life skills such as bathing, getting dressed and brushing teeth
- Develop motor skills with activities at home e.g. arts and crafts using scissors, pegs etc.
- Practice various sports e.g. playing catch to improve eye–hand coordination
Traditionally, occupational therapy involves an OT and the patient. However recently parent involvement has proved to be very effective in enhancing a child’s progress in speech-language development. The more involved and connected you are to the process the better would be the results of your child’s therapy
If you are worried about your child’s occupational therapy program and want to learn more about your role in the process please do get in touch with our highly trained occupational therapist.