School-based physical therapy often focuses on gross motor
skills and mobility. Your child may have sessions once or twice a week, or participate in adaptive physical education classes led by a PT. When therapy stops for school breaks, you can keep the progress going by working with your child at home. Here are five ways to start.
A pool is a great place to work on strengthening muscles in a free and weightless environment. Whether your child enjoys swimming or water aerobics or just moving through the water, pool time can be therapy time while seeming like nothing but fun time. If your little tadpole needs special equipment in order to have fun in the water, our listing of special-needs swim gear
can help you find it.
Catalogs like Abilitations, Sportime
allow you to order the same equipment that physical therapists use. These tools aren't cheap, but may give you a springboard to starting fun sessions with your child and seeing what you can improvise along the same lines.
If your child has an IEP, read it over again -- just as you'd expect any therapist working with your youngster to do. Review any physical therapy goals, including any benchmarks or smaller goals under them. Review academic and behavioral goals, too, and think about how your child's gross motor challenges impact these. Use what you've read to choose the things you want to work on with your child, whether they're specifically what the therapist targeted or not.
Exercise packs a lot of physical therapy punch. You can make it as simple as a round of jumping jacks, toe touches and windmills every morning, or try some of the programs in our listing of ways to work out with your child.
Just a walk around the neighborhood or taking stairs instead of the elevator can be of value -- for all family members.
From organized sports to a simple round of catch in the backyard, games are therapy for kids with gross motor challenges and problems with strength and movement. You'll want to be sure to adapt the activity to your child's particular needs and weaknesses -- the PE Central
site has good suggestions
for adapting activities for kids with special needs -- but if you can keep things within appropriate bounds and avoid frustration, you can turn therapy into a great time for you and your child.