Why therapy, that doesn’t feel like therapy, is so important for those living with a disability.

Therapy plays a huge role for those living with disabilities and learning difficulties, as it helps support and develop essential skills such as verbal and written communication as well as self-sufficiency skills. According to statistics, up to 1 in every 10 people in Australia have a learning disability [1], yet the importance of access and facilitating this support is often neglected. In fact, of all Australians with a disability (living in households) who need assistance only 62.1% report their needs are fully met [2]. Which means a substantial amount of people are being failed. It is incredibly important that these needs are being accommodated so that those living with a disability can live an accomplished life.

Imagine a life where you have seen almost as many practitioner waiting rooms as there are rooms in the game Fortnite (those with kids will get it). It’s a little wonder therapy wears thin after a while. Person centred therapy has helped this but even still it’s difficult seeing a clinician. To clarify, a person-centred approach puts the person being supported at the centre of their therapy. Unlike more traditional approaches, the person-centred approach enables the person being supported to be the expert in their own lives rather than the clinicians who are providing the therapy.

Regardless, when you’ve got a list of clinicians that is a length of a to-do list you can’t ignore, it starts to become a chore? This long list includes psychologist, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, psychiatrist, general practitioner, art therapist, music therapist, audiologist, chinese medicine practitioner, chiropractor, dietitian, exercise physiologist, genetic counsellor, medical radiation practitioner, optometrist, orthoptist, orthotist/prosthetist, osteopath, perfusionist, pharmacist, podiatrist, rehabilitation counsellor, social worker, sonographer, and speech pathologist. In this article we’ll be focusing on, speech pathology, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and talk therapy.

It’s favourable to have these therapies delivered in an engaging and enjoyable manner, if you find your client dozing off or being distracted throughout the lesson it’s obvious they might be bored, right? This is why therapy that’s applied with genuine enthusiasm is so important to introduce excitement and keenness in the most productive way. For instance, adults living with down syndrome require communication skills to support their day to day lives both inside and outside the home. One original way to do this is through watching soap operas! Sitting down in a group environment to work on listening helps improve conversational speech and reiterating stories [3]. This is why therapy that doesn’t feel like therapy is so essential, there are multiple ways you can keep therapy lively without creating an atmosphere where the individual feels as though they require help.

A lot of the time, people are open with the physical support they may require, it’s not uncommon to hear friends and family talking about a knee or back pain and how the doctors are helping. But with therapy like speech pathology, there is almost a stigma attached to it, people assuming it’s an indication of somebody’s intelligence. It’s why we push for a safe and stigma free environment in our programmes. Speech and language therapy is an excellent way to address communication troubles and can be used to treat a person with various specific speech and communication troubles. Similarly, occupational therapy is used to overcome emotional, social, and physical needs and can be beneficial for a wide range of disabilities.

For instance, individuals living with autism may need support regarding the social aspect of their lives, which can have a larger impact on their daily routine. Some of the challenges they may face include interpreting facial cues or understanding body language. An example would be play skills, like taking turns in a group or managing emotions [4]. Occupational therapy is an excellent tool to manage these difficulties. This therapy originates within the field of treating those who have problems with accomplishing activities that are essential to them. For those living with autism this type of therapy is focused on improving their ability to self-regulate emotions, and actively participate in social interactions. It begins with a therapist evaluating their needs and identifying their strengthens to then formulate the best solutions. To build a domain of cheerfulness during this therapy and to avoid it feeling like actual work, can be as simple as using bright colours and short bursts of activities to keep a person’s interests and attention span up. Another method is to reward good behaviour as positive reinforcement is a great tool to increase moral.

On the other hand, physiotherapy helps to reduce painful movement or stiffness, to build and better motion through the use of physical techniques [6]. A condition that requires a physiotherapist are people living with cerebral palsy. This is a lasting life circumstance that affects primarily motor skills, balance and posture but can simultaneously affect intellectual development. A physiotherapist would first assess the client to gather a good understanding of their condition, for a young person somebody touching you can feel overwhelming or scary. To create a gentle yet entertaining environment, implementing a system like learning through play is a great idea. Often children living with cerebral palsy may have restricted opportunities to inspect the world, however this doesn’t mean they are any less curious. By building a place that encourages stimulation and fun activities, an exciting atmosphere can be recreated, where the emotion of feeling like you require help can be avoided. Through interactions that utilise emotive faces and inspire laughter, will surely be the optimum place for learning! 

Talk therapy is a form of therapy that is significant for people who have disabilities, as often their experiences are unique and so they may not be able to relate to other people around them. Therefore, therapy that doesn’t feel like therapy is so important for those living with a disability. The option of dealing with your mental health in an entertaining or unconventional way is much more appealing than perhaps just sitting in a room. An option could be taking therapy outdoors! The fresh air and warm sun has proven to be an aid for battling mental health and is called “nature-based therapy”. It can be as simple as sitting on a bench outdoors at a quiet park and is ideal for those who are feeling “stuck”. These programmes can include adventure therapy which means you’ll be using activities like rafting or rock climbing to inspect nature, this action can be done in a group which is great for creating an enjoyable environment.

With support, many people living with disabilities live a happy productive life. Here at Raise Your Spirit, we understand the significance of a compassionate environment. We make it our mission to produce the best and most uplifting therapy for our clients through our proprietary 22 level RYS Acceleration system™. Our priority is you achieving your goals and we help find the best ways for you to achieve optimum performance and wellbeing.

1)”Disability, Ageing And Carers, Australia: Summary Of Findings, 2018″. 2022. Australian Bureau Of Statistics. Accessed January 9 https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/disability/disability-ageing-and-carers-australia-summary-findings/latest-release.

2) “Disability, Ageing And Carers, Australia: Summary Of Findings, 2018”. 2022. Australian Bureau Of Statistics. Accessed January 9. https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/disability/disability-ageing-and-carers-australia-summary-findings/latest-release.

3) Kumin, Libby. 2022. Ndsccenter.Org. Accessed January 4. https://www.ndsccenter.org/wp-content/uploads/Adults.pdf.

4)  “Social Skills For Autistic Children”. 2021. Raising Children Network. https://raisingchildren.net.au/autism/communicating-relationships/connecting/social-skills-for-children-with-asd.

5) “A Guide To Occupational Therapy For Autism | USAHS – University Of St. Augustine For Health Sciences”. 2022. University Of St. Augustine For Health Sciences. Accessed January 4. https://www.usa.edu/blog/occupational-therapy-for-autism/.

6) “Physiotherapy”. 2020. Healthdirect.Gov.Au. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/physiotherapy.

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