Years ago when my son and I were receiving EI for his torticollis, I found myself surprised about how hard it was to remember to use the strategies that the PT and I practiced during our visits. She taught me to use TAMO techniques and positioning strategies and shared other ideas that I was eager to use. When she left, I found that the day would pass and I would have forgotten to use what I learned…this was especially surprising given that I WAS an early interventionist.
My experience occurred years ago, but I’ve recently heard families and providers talking about this same issue – how to help families use strategies between visits, how to make it easier on them to help their children be successful. It’s not easy providing support when you (the service provider) aren’t there, is it?
When I was on the receiving end of EI, I found that I had to problem-solve how to help myself remember what to do between visits. After plotting out our daily routine and when I could use the strategies we had developed during the PT sessions, I still struggled with remembering them during the day. I found that the day would pass with lots of diaper changes, errands, playtime, and time at the sitter (while I worked part-time) and poof…it would be 7pm and I had only stretched my son once. I felt like I was definitely not up for the mommy-of-the-year award at the ends of those days.
My Grand Plan
So I came up with a grand plan to help me remember…sticky notes. Yes, the best idea I had was to use sticky notes. I posted sticky notes everywhere – by the changing table, in our play area, in the kitchen, in the car, in my son’s room, in the bathroom, everywhere. Without these visual reminders, my sleep-deprived brain just couldn’t keep up. This simple strategy did help me get into a new routine of embedding the strategies into what I already did and eventually they became no-brainers. Getting there was the hard part.
There is some research from Dunst and his colleagues that found that families appreciate visual reminders, something they can post on the frig to remember what to do between visits. We can help families think about their routines. We can join routines to help families practice using strategies. What can we do, then, to support them when we aren’t there?
So here’s my question to you…
What do you do now to help parents and caregivers remember to use the strategies developed during visits??
Share your ideas so we can help families think beyond sticky notes!
See this posts for more ideas about supporting families between visits: