Home-based therapy, as its name states, is the provision of therapy sessions in the homes of the clients. Traditional therapy is usually held in school or an early intervention environment. Home-based therapy is similar in the sense that sessions are also typically scheduled weekly or based on the schedule determined by the therapist, mostly involving only the client and the therapist.
This change in the work space and the utilisation of the home environment can bring about benefits for children or individuals with autism and their family.
Bring convenience for families
Firstly, home-based therapy eliminates barriers for families who do not have close access to good child care options or who experience difficulties in making trips to the clinic or centre. For example, a child whom is taken care of by his grandmother during the day as both of his parents are working. His grandmother might not be physically well enough to bring him to the centre. By choosing home-based therapy, the family will receive ongoing support integrated into their typical routine and schedules.
Furthermore, transitions can be a challenge for children with behavioural issues. Home-based therapy eliminates the need to leave the home, to take transportation to the center or to enter a new environment. Using the previous example, some children on the spectrum may display challenging behaviours during the trip to the centre and the grandmother might face issues bringing the child to the centre by herself. A trip to school may not just be taxing for both the grandmother and the child, it might also be dangerous to do so. Behavioral issues can be corrected at home initially and subsequently, it will become much easier to transit.
Additionally, with these eliminated transitions, the therapist will be able to use the time to focus and emphasize on developing skills rather than overcoming resistance.
As such, home-based therapy is able to meet the needs of these individuals and families by providing much-needed assistance and convenience to them.
Finding comfort in a familiar environment
Individuals with autism can feel overwhelmed or intimidated by the clinical or centre-based setting. As such, they may display an array of behaviours outside of familiar environments.
“Home is where the heart is”.
By bringing the therapy sessions to the home environment, clients tend to feel relaxed and at ease. Comfort and a feeling of relaxation within the home environment has been found to have positive benefits as contrasted with the clinical or centre-based environment. Being relaxed in a familiar environment makes it easier to connect and build rapport with the client and their immediate support network, thus, maximising the benefits from therapy sessions. For example, a child with autism feels comfortable in his home environment, and as such, he displays less challenging behaviours during the therapy sessions as compared to when he receives the service in a clinical setting. This allows for the therapist to build upon other basic skills required for daily functioning such as cooperation, making requestings, sitting tolerance and toileting.
Personalised therapy sessions
Lastly, by observing the clients in their natural setting, the therapist will be able to gather a full picture and devise appropriate and specific intervention plans to target and prioritise areas where the clients require improvement in.
Therapy sessions can be personalised and generalised to the home environment according to the needs of the client. This allows for skills to be targeted in the environment in which they are most likely to occur. For example, social skills can be targeted with siblings with the use of games that are already owned by the family and familiar to the child.
Being in the home environment opens up many opportunities for the child to learn. For instance, learning to clean up the toys in the playroom, play appropriately with others, going to the toilet independently, daily routines and so on.
In summary, home-based therapy brings convenience to families, allows for better building of rapport due to clients feeling at ease in a familiar environment and also allows for the personalisation of therapy sessions according to the needs of the client. I hope this article was helpful for those who are unsure of the term home-based therapy!
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Written by Winnie