Why Thematic Therapy Works- 3 Reasons for SLPs
Do you like doing thematic therapy with your younger students? Holidays like Halloween are definitely motivating themes for you kids. Here are some reasons why thematic therapy works.
Why does it work to have a theme in therapy all month long?
- It gives enough practice time for students to get to understand and use the vocabulary for the holiday before it arrives. Plus, it is fun!
- Skills can be built and practiced over multiple months if you choose your materials correctly. When the students see the new theme, they feel like they are doing something different, but you know that you are consolidating their skills!
- Kids like things that are familiar, especially if they have autism or are dealing with anxiety problems. By incorporating a holiday theme to work on their areas of need, we are helping them understand what will happen on that day and what will be expected of them. Helping out with functional skills is always important!
I’m not a fan of just teaching vocabulary, however! Students get a lot of vocabulary development in their classroom, and single words just don’t give as much communication power as word combinations do. But if you use a theme to build their skills, you can accomplish two goals at once!
How can I incorporate thematic therapy?
- Find toys related to the season or holiday and use them in play in conjunction with functional everyday life vocabulary. Take a peek at the pairings in the picture for some ideas.
- Use pictures, toys, or paper pieces for the seasonal/holiday theme but address sentence structure or syntactical rules and categorizing skills with them.
- There are great books with holiday and seasonal themes. Answer questions and review classroom vocabulary while reading the book, but work on narrative and sequencing skills after!
- Use open-ended seasonal/holiday games and activities to review classroom taught vocabulary, stay festive and keep motivation up, but base the actual ‘work’ around the IEP goals.
What do you think?