I’ve had many people asking me recently about what is in my therapy room. Now, let me be clear here – I don’t have a therapy room. I have a therapy house. Everything in my house (and some things outside it) is geared towards helping Michael. And I have big plans for MORE things as well.
These are some of the things I have in my house. It is a bit of a kids’ paradise.
First: the built in shelves pictured above. They have many versions of everything that Michael has ever showed an interest in and everything that can help him learn. There are ten different puzzles. Sound puzzles, normal puzzles, puzzles with or without sticks. Ranging from four to eight/nine pieces. There are five different shape sorters of various levels, sensory toys, piggy banks, ring stackers, musical toys (bells, maracas etc), cars, balls, activity cubes, blocks in different colours and sizes.
In addition to these ‘traditional’ toys I have many that are there purely for ‘matching’ exercises (random socks, shoes, teddy bears, shapes, flash cards). I have a whole shelf just for toys that promote simple imitation. These include play dough and implements to play with the play dough (toy rolling pins, pizza cutters etc), drums, maracas, little flags and streamers, hats, sunglasses, cars for pushing, a ramp. We also work on cause and effect toys (for example push up toys) a lot with him as it is something he has trouble generalising.
Like I’ve said before, we do not just do therapy in our therapy room and not just during therapy time. We have toys littered throughout the house. Anything and everything on every surface, in the hope that Michael may actually play with something. Very occasionally he does. Usually he just runs backwards and forwards. This is what my lounge room looks like right now – yes that used to be a coffee table. Now it is another toy table.
Things that travel all over the house
We have three different office chairs in different rooms in the house. Yes, we use them for therapy. Michael loves movement and needs to be moving at all times. It is called Vestibular Input and he needs it constantly. Swinging around in this office chair is one of his favourite activities – and we provide it in spades! I have often done an hour and a half of therapy in this one office chair. It is good for dragging up and down our long hallway, or swinging around in the therapy room. It can be a great reward and also meets his sensory needs – win win! While he is in here, he is also very happy to do things that require staying in one place. Some programs that we do in the chair include puzzles, imitation, matching and reading.
Michael’s PECS book comes with him wherever he goes. While he can’t discriminate between different cards very well yet, we are working on it all the time. At the moment we usually only put one or two main cards on the top and put the others on as he indicates he wants something else. His GO card is always near him during therapy, so if he needs a break he can ask for one any time.
Table and chairs
This is Michael’s little table and chairs. He actually doesn’t spend much time in here but for some programs he does. His tissue box and little drinking cup (he is learning to drink from an open cup) live here.
Bean Bag and Slide
Michael’s giant bean bag and slide are some of the activities we have littered around the house. He often gets ‘dragged’ on the bean bag along our long hallway during therapy. So much giggling happens!
This is Michael’s giant therapy folder. It has data on everything, all his programs, behaviours etc. Data taking is certainly one of the most important things we do. It allows us to know what areas show progress, and which areas need some help. With data we can catch a plateau and see when it is starting to pass. It weighs about 500000 kg (give or take) and we have to take it anywhere we want to do therapy. So heavy.
This is Michael’s therapy suitcase. Every week when I take him to his therapy centre, this massive suitcase comes with us. It will contain the therapy folder, the PECS book, and all the toys he is working on at the moment. It is definitely the bane of my existence but it is certainly indispensable.
Michael’s toy kitchen. It was a birthday present from his grandparents (yes he is a very lucky little boy). We use it to practise parallel play. He has a toy potato that he is learning to put in and out of the oven, as well as ‘salting’ it. He also puts it in the fridge. One day I plan on teaching him to peel potatoes as well and then I will put my feet up and he can cook dinner. It will be wonderful.
Our giant yoga ball. This is not actually for Michael, it is something we use to bounce him on. So he sits on my back and I give him piggy back while bouncing on the yoga ball. He doesn’t bounce by himself, so while he used to have a little trampoline it wasn’t really being used. This way he gets the bouncing he needs but we do it for him. It is a reward and meets his sensory needs.
Though not technically therapy stuff, my office supplies are definitely a big part of Michael’s therapy. I have two different printers – one black and white one that prints large amounts of data sheets cheaply, and a colour one for flash cards. I also have a laminator (who doesn’t love laminating!!) and lots of various strips of velcro all over the place.
Random Red Cow
Yes we have a giant red cow in Michael’s room. No I’m not sure why. My husband purchased it a few months ago. I sent him out for lunch, he came back with a giant red cow. Has he snapped under the pressure? Maybe…But he thought Michael might like it. And the funny thing is, he did. We have used this giant cow as a reward. I am using it here to show that you should try anything, because we use whatever works!
I have many future therapy room and therapy house plans. One plan is to buy Michael a proper big trampoline for outside. It is in the works. Another plan is to get a carpenter in to build him a proper swing. While we have a little swing outside he has been unhappy with it because it doesn’t go as high as the one in the playground. So we will build him a proper one in the backyard.
Other things I would love are one of those lycra hammock therapy swings that he has in OT. It is hard though because our ceilings aren’t reinforced and we don’t have bolts in them. Maybe one day!
As I mentioned before though we use anything and everything. I am in the process of organising a pillow fort for him in one corner of his therapy room. I have purchased large amounts of floor cushions and I will put them against one wall, together with the bean bag, so he has somewhere to crash into.
Definitely as I get to know Michael better and his needs change, so will the therapy room. And therapy house. It will evolve with him as he gets bigger. But for now, I hope it gives you some idea for your own!