Making Therapy Sessions Less Stressful



Pieces of chalk

Therapy life can be overwhelming for the family. Kids have to work hard in therapies to try to achieve milestones that come naturally to others. They are asked to wear braces and stretch arms/legs which are uncomfortable for them.

When Kyra was only 16 months old, she had  therapy 3-4 hrs a day. She used to cry and there were so many tears. She was not interested, she started to hate therapy time, and we realized it was not fun for her. She had limited communication skills and was not able to process what we wanted from her. We had to quickly come up with simple tricks to keep her motivated, and to make therapy fun. 

We made a reward chart and bought a timer. Initially we got her used to concept without activity and set the timer to 2 minutes, when it beeped Kyra took a star from chart. After she collected 3 stars she got to have a reward, which in our case was chocolates, or a small movie. Slowly we started adding activities to the mix, and increasing the time on timer. She started enjoying it more and therapy turned out to be fun thing to do.

As Kyra got older, around 2 years of age starting doing activities that she already knew, 2 activities that are still difficult for her to do and 1 activity that is entirely new to her. Now she is 3 years old and we do 10 activities. No timer is required, but she gets to pick 4 of those activities, and gets 2 breaks in between which she gets to decide as well.  This way she is still in charge and doesn’t feel pressured into doing therapy; it’s still fun.

There is a lot of debate on the reward chart system: how children are not pets to be trained, and this will decrease the motivation for the activity following the experience with rewards. But here we are not training a child; we are providing her with motivation. We all need a bit of motivation and push to succeed in life, that’s just human nature, and as parent of a special needs child I choose to look at reward system as a motivation.

Visual aids can help children- especially the ones who cannot communicate effectively or have limited understanding- in the following ways:


Support communication

Enhance memory

Provide a reference for previous directions

Identify expectations for children within activities and routines

Serve as a cue for new skills

The ultimate goal is to help a child achieve milestones or whatever goals he/she is working towards. I found this method extremely useful, and Kyra was very happy with it. We had  less tantrums, and now she even asks for “the-wa-py”. Ee even tried this method when she was new to wearing Braces and her AFO’s. I know every child is different but this method introduced Kyra to therapies in a positive way. I hope it helps you as much as it helped me.


Swati Mittal is mom to as sassy 4 yr old girl with Cerebral Palsy. A dentist by profession, she now spends days doing therapies and incorporating fun ways of learning for Kyra. Her passion is to break the preconceived notions about disability and help other families give support and encouragement through her website, Facebook and Instagram pages.

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