In honor of BETTER Speech & Hearing Month, I am tackling some answers for BETTER questions we can be asking each other as a profession. Imagine if we started asking some of these thoughtful questions that could elevate and inform how we practice, in contrast with questions that oversimplify what we do such as “What’s your favorite game to play for memory?” Let’s crowd-source our knowledge here! I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts in a comment below or email me: [email protected]

This Week: Should We Organize Our Therapy Materials By Activity Instead of Impairment?

(Also in this Series: Does Functional Speech Therapy Compete with OT? and What If Someone Has No Goals?)

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.

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. It’s an efficient way to practice 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?

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