Holy cow! I am starting to see more and more about bagless vs bag for early intervention therapy sessions. Hot topic for us EI providers I suppose. I was at a training recently and the keynote speaker was talking about this very topic. Two questions this makes me wonder about are: What do parents want: A therapist with a bag or not a bag? And, What’s best for the child?
One train of thought is parents may feel less than if someone else is bringing in toys. This may imply their toys are not good enough. The parent may feel guilt because they cannot buy the child every toy that the therapist may have in their collection. These are valid concerns to consider as a therapist. I can tell you that my intent would never be to make a parent feel less than by bringing in activities.
We might also consider empowering the parents by teaching strategies they can use in their daily routines. If we incorporate our parents and families more then they may feel a part of the group.
What I wonder is why aren’t we asking what the family wants. Maybe it’s one way or another. Maybe it’s a compromise. Maybe we just have an open conversation about it and navigate together. Some people learn better by observing. Some through hands on and coaching. We educate. We attempt to think about daily routines and how to build in activities within a day. Do you know that until recently I have not asked one parent how they feel about this topic. Looks like I have some ongoing homework.
Hhmm… What’s best therapeutically for the child? I can say that this past week I coached a mom how to use visual cues for specific sounds, hand over hand assist for signs and how to use pauses and verbal routines. It was awesome. We used his cars, his drum set and a noisy shape sorter I have. For one child I only brought in my Praxis Cards from Nancy Kauffman and my Big Book of Exclamations 2 by Terry Brooks. Most of the session I used items in the child’s home. For some other sessions I brought in my magical bag as some parents reference the bag. Ha! Why? It’s novel for the child. I put thought into materials I purchase and put into the bag.
- What will be this toy’s purpose?
- How can I use this toy to help a child?
Eek! So many toys are geared toward producing noise, abc’s, numbers, and colors. I had a mom tell me once, “Tracy, I have started shopping differently for toys, after seeing what you have.” Some of our kids learn differently and need us to think about materials differently.
Maybe we could ask ourselves what are the child’s and family’s needs and how can I help facilitate that? Reference the outcomes set by the family and use our best judgment.
Maybe as professionals we could ask ourselves…
Why am I only bagless? Why do I only use a bag? What works best with my personality and my expertise level? Can I step outside my box? (I guess in this case “bag”).
This is not a cookie cutter approach in my clinical opinion. If we are always all or nothing we are limiting ourselves and short changing those we serve. Reminds me of when services were moved to “natural environment only.” I really miss seeing the network between families, providers, and families and providers. Anywho topic for another day…
On a side note I am so happy to see centers bringing back groups for our younger ones and for families to network face to face. Little Friends and Autism Service Provider and Beyond. Check them out!
Who wants to talk about bags?!