#133 - Treatment Planning Made Easy With These Simple Therapy Hacks!

by Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC & Jessica Hill, COTA/L December 30, 2020

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Treatment Planning Made Easy With These Simple Therapy Hacks!

Today’s episode is an answer to a listener question about treatment planning - how to plan and set up treatment activities for a variety of kiddos, at a variety of levels, to address a variety of goals. Get ready to take notes as Rachel & Jessica break down how to set up an obstacle course activity and how to easily modify each step. They also provide you with several of their favorite games that can be used. This is an episode for therapists and parents alike! 



Treatment Planning Made Easy With These Simple Therapy Hacks!

A therapist in our field mentioned how daunting it is to plan something unique for each client if you treat children full-time. If you’re a parent with multiple kids of differing ages and abilities, this can show how to adapt one activity so that all your children can benefit from it. We will provide practical advice, tips, and strategies that usually work well when implemented.

Step One: Set Up An Activity

Games and activities don’t just mean setting up a random activity—we’re talking about organized, structured tasks with an intended goal. For example, think of trying to complete an obstacle course following each step precisely in the given order.

If you’re looking to get your children up and moving, several activities can help. Introduce them to monkey bars or bear crawls that encourage using their larger muscles - think outside the box! To further hone fine motor skills, tongs and playdough require coordination between fingers for better dexterity. It’s an enjoyable way for kids to learn different spatial concepts while having fun.

To guarantee success in your activity sequence, it’s important to include elements that allow for transitioning between steps. For instance, if you fashion a four-step obstacle course with an animal walk station, visual motor skills practice area, fine motor skills section, and oral motor exercises - how should your child move from one point to the next? Should they do more animal walks or use scooter boards instead? It may be simpler for them to walk around each station - but whatever choice is made must align perfectly with their needs.

Step Two: Who Will Participate?

When you have kids of different ages with the same objective, evaluating each child’s particular needs is essential when creating an activity. This will ensure that some modifications can be made for those who need assistance, and others may still face a more difficult challenge.

Begin by meticulously noting the course contents, objectives, and goals so tracking progress is easier and modifications required for subsequent activities can be made accordingly. Therapeutic play should aim to create an enjoyable experience for children and eliminate any underlying skill deficits that need attention.

It isn’t always necessary to have brand-new activities for your children; you can modify the toys and tools they possess with a minor change to stay interested! This subtle tweak will bring about an exciting spin on familiar objects, stimulating their minds and developing their problem-solving skills.

Step Three: Model The Activity For Your Client

Now that you have crafted and modified your activity for each child, it’s time to put the fun into motion. Let’s use an obstacle course as our example, one composed of four different sequences requiring completion by the little ones. Follow these easy steps:

  • Step one: Using a crash pad or pillow, perform a log roll across the path. If you don’t have a crash pad, take the cushions off your couch and have them log-roll over it.
  • Step two: Complete an animal walk across a path using painter’s tape on the floor, a balance beam, stepping stones, or rolling up a blanket to make a balance beam. Then, cross the path.
  • Step three: Complete one game phase, like a cause-and-effect toy or a puzzle.
  • Step four: Challenge yourself to a wheelbarrow walk or crawl back to the starting point.

This four-step obstacle course is a super easy way to keep any child engaged, regardless of their skill level or what they’re interested in. If necessary, you can customize it with different games, toys, and sequences between sessions.

Making The Activity More Challenging

Amp up the difficulty of this obstacle course by adding a motivating chart for kids to read while log-rolling during their first step. Alternatively, if you genuinely want to take your challenge to the next level, use a metronome. Move through each leg of the course with an animal walk technique and keep time with every beat - or even alternate beats depending on how advanced your participants are!

To challenge them further, have your child adopt a strength position while completing step three. Have them display their prowess by transitioning between traditional planks and downward dogs to primal reflex stances - they will find themselves straining but staying in the same spot! This element of surprise is sure to stoke enthusiasm within your little one.

Making An Activity More Accessible

Enhancing a child’s success in any activity can be achieved through the use of visual aids. Demonstrate to them how to do something by modeling it - such as rolling logs together or guiding puzzle pieces into location one by one. Additionally, tangible assistance is also beneficial; co-regulate your movements with them under a weighted blanket for improved balance and vestibular system development while providing extra support.

Keeping your children engaged can be easy with the appropriate transition activities. Creating a game for them to alternate their favorite animal walks instead of relying on the wheelbarrow walk every time they move from one exercise to another will give them more control and power over what happens during those moments. If desired, you may modify the four-step obstacle course sequence in this example into two steps!

Favorite Games For All Ages And Abilities

Incorporating enjoyable activities into your therapeutic plan is an excellent way to ensure that everyone has fun. Throwing games into the mix in therapy can prove incredibly beneficial and will leave kids eager to engage!

For your toddler and younger children, here are some of our top picks:

  • Puzzles
  • Cause & Effect Toys
  • Follow Your Nose Game
  • Lucky Duck Matching Game
  • Squigz Toys
  • Think Fun’s Yoga Spinner
  • Geoboards
  • Teachable, Touchable Texture Squares

Stimulate and captivate your school-aged children’s interest in therapy with these engaging activities:

  • Think Fun Games
  • Picture Rica Game
  • Robot Race Toy
  • Melissa and Doug Sandwich Stacking Game
  • Pancake Pile-Up Game
  • Dr. Eureka Stem Games
  • River Crossing Game
  • Stackable Spinning Tops
  • Looking for activities to keep your teens engaged and stimulated during therapy sessions? Here are a few ideas:
  • Think Fun Logic and Reasoning Games
  • Laser Maze and Gravity Maze
  • PDQ Card Game
  • Wonky Dice Game 
  • Qwirkle
  • Scrabble
  • Dry-erase Blocks

There are many different strategies and games to help make therapy planning more manageable and more enjoyable for all ages. You can create an engaging obstacle course or incorporate various games into your treatment plan with the proper techniques. Implementing these simple hacks will bring new life into their sessions no matter what age or ability level you’re working with!

By using visual aids, tactile assistance, and fun games to modify activities based on the individual needs of your clientele, you can create an effective treatment plan that will benefit them in the long run. With these simple therapy hacks, you have the power to make a positive impact for all ages and abilities!


Build an Obstable Course in 5 Easy Steps



While we make every effort to share correct information, we are still learning. We will double check all of our facts but realize that medicine is a constantly changing science and art. One doctor / therapist may have a different way of doing things from another. We are simply presenting our views and opinions on how to address common sensory challenges, health related difficulties and what we have found to be beneficial that will be as evidenced based as possible. By listening to this podcast, you agree not to use this podcast as medical advice to treat any medical condition in either yourself or your children. Consult your child’s pediatrician/ therapist for any medical issues that he or she may be having. This entire disclaimer also applies to any guests or contributors to the podcast. Under no circumstances shall Rachel Harrington, Harkla, Jessica Hill, or any guests or contributors to the podcast, as well as any employees, associates, or affiliates of Harkla, be responsible for damages arising from use of the podcast.

Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.

This podcast should not be used in any legal capacity whatsoever, including but not limited to establishing “standard of care” in a legal sense or as a basis for expert witness testimony. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy of any statements or opinions made on the podcast.

Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC & Jessica Hill, COTA/L
Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC & Jessica Hill, COTA/L

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