Should We Organize Our Therapy Materials By Activity Topic?


When you open your “file cabinet” for treatment, how are your materials organized? My guess is that–just like I used to do– your materials are organized by impairment: verbal expression, auditory comprehension, thought organization, sustained attention, short-term memory, etc. This kind of organization of materials makes sense if we are only focused on improving impairment-level results, BUT, with the changes over the past decade in healthcare that expect

REAL LIFE results, this system is no longer doing the best work for us.

It actually makes it harder for us to wind our way back to real life activities if we are starting with the impairment. If you pull out verbal expression tasks and the readily-available therapy tasks are sentence completions, naming opposites, generating scattegories words — it’s actually much harder to try to link those to words that MATTER for the unique person you are working with.

Sarah can be heard on "Assessing Functional Needs in the Adult Neurologic Population" an episode of the Speech Uncensored podcast.

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The same goes with cognition: If we are playing deduction puzzles or card games or organizing paragraphs to start with — it’s harder to wind your way back and apply those random tasks to an actual activity someone needs to be able to do.

As I’ve moved to a person-centered care approach from the start with every patient I see, I’ve found a much better system for my therapy materials is organizing them by activity. Then, within the activity, I can target the impairment with the language or cognitive skills needed for that activity. For example, within the activity of Cooking, we could address word-finding by talking about a favorite recipe, or work on attention by organizing a grocery list for the week by placement in the store. It’s an efficient way to practice in therapy and get real life results!

If you want to see some examples of how you can use an activity to target impairments (language or cognitive), just check out all the Activity Topics I’ve addressed over the past 3 years (Follow link to see more):

What are your thoughts? Have you tried STARTING with the activity and then addressing the impairment within the activity? What other Activities are regularly addressed in the setting you are in?

This post is a contribution from Sarah Baar, MA, CCC-SLP of honeycombspeechtherapy.com you can learn more about Sara and this topic on her website or you can reach her by email at sarah@honeycombspeechtherapy.com

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