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Benefits of Home Programs for Children: Why Occupational Therapists Use Them and Why They Are Important?

The primary aim of occupational therapy for children is to improve their engagement and participation in everyday life activities. Therapists can provide treatment in the comfort of the family's own home, and having a familiar environment to work in is beneficial for you as a parent and the child. 

Growing trends of home programs 

Over time, occupational therapy practices have evolved. [1] The advances in information and broadcasting technologies have empowered occupational therapists to hold online sessions through video conferencing. How a patient is performing and progressing can also be collected through the emailing of videos and photos by parents to their therapist. [2] Virtual sessions are also the safer choice for treatment during the pandemic.

The home-based occupational therapy sessions for children are parent-directed with proper training from the therapist. In virtual sessions, parents act as co-therapist, and they are present during the sessions and provide the necessary technical support. Several studies support the partnership between the parents and the occupational therapist as an effective intervention strategy. [1] Let's explore the benefits of home programs for children in need of occupation therapy.

What are home-based programs?

In home-based programs, the child performs activities with the help of parents in the home environment to get the expected therapeutic outcomes toward better health. [4] In the home-based interventions, therapists train parents with exercises specially designed for their child that are feasible in the home setting. 

Neuroplasticity of the brain is critical in home-based training. Neuroplasticity is the adaptive capacity where each brain learns new skills and behavior and encodes new experiences. Home health programs assist patients in promoting better neuroplasticity due to repetitive training sessions. [4]

Conditions in children treated with home programs

Occupational therapy home programs also require a conceptual base for effective treatment like any other therapy. The family-centered practice service approach broadly supports home programs of occupation therapy. It enables parents to deliver the treatment from their home instead of inside a clinic, which translates to greater participation and receptiveness. [5] Children with the following medical conditions may benefit from home-based occupation therapy: [1]

  • Cerebral palsy

  • Autism spectrum disorder

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

  • Behavioral disorder

  • Sensory processing disorder

  • Learning disability

  • Fine motor delay

  • Gross motor delay

  • Feeding problem

What are the benefits of using home programs for children?

Occupational therapy home programs have several advantages. Improved access to therapy sessions and reduced wait times at the clinic are notable benefits. Through virtual sessions, therapists can educate and train parents on how to execute homework exercises effectively for their child. [2]

Ultimately, home programs allow the child to feel safe and comfortable to do the activities that can improve their well-being and health. Families participating can also help better manage the therapy, too. [6]

Here are the benefits of home program occupational therapy as a parent:

  • It’s cost-effective: Home-based sessions can save money because there is minimal to no travel, greater patient satisfaction, and parents can work around their schedule resulting in less missed work. [6]

  • Therapy is catered to a child’s daily home life: Home occupational therapy is more individualized, catering to specific needs such as comfort and timing, and can become a part of the daily routine at home. [7]

  • Your child’s participation can improve: Children with developmental disorders like autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) receive immense benefits from occupational therapy at home. Studies published in the American Occupational Therapy Association journal and the British Journal of Occupational Therapy suggest that in a home-based setting, parents feel more capable and experience more children's participation in daily living activities. [8],[13]

  • It saves you and your child time: Home occupational therapy rules out the need for any additional sessions to teach patients. [9] Virtual sessions through interactive video conferencing, also known as telehealth, saves the parent travel time and gives them more flexibility. It also enables the therapist to deliver effective care and therapy to the patients with the involvement of parents during daily living activities. [10]

  • Motor learning becomes more effective: With home program exercises designed to be a part of daily routine, it ensures your child can repeat tasks and maintain the intensity of the exercises, thereby improving effective motor learning. [9]

  • Retention of therapeutic intervention: In the home setting, your child can undergo more treatment exercises as part of their day-to-day activities. This can help them retain the established intervention effects and impact to their development.

  • Foster therapist-parent-child relationship: The involvement of parents empower them to support the well-being of their child. The relationship between the therapist-parent-child can also be improved and enable the child to be receptive to treatment. [9]

  • Therapeutic progress can be interruption-free: Parents tend to opt for weekly sessions for in-clinic treatment. The breaks from therapy between sessions can result in a less effective and possibly more disruption in a child's progress. With at-home programs, there is less disruption and more frequency in treatment. Therapy can achieve greater effectiveness as it becomes part of your child's daily routine. [4]

  • Family-centered approach: The occupation therapy in home settings is primarily collaborative, evidence-based, family-centered compared to a school setting and improves the quality of life of children with disabilities. [5],[6],[11]

  • Your child becomes more compliant: With a familiar environment, children can be more receptive and compliant to in-home health programs and activities. [5] A study in children with Down syndrome showed improved adherence to the occupational therapy home program. [12]


Home-based occupation therapy is vital to occupational therapists as it can be valuable to the intervention programs. The occupational therapists can design a child's treatment plan and activities based on their home settings. 

More organizational support is necessary for better education and training to overcome the implementation challenges in home-based occupation therapy for children. Therapists can connect through virtual sessions using connective technology such as video calls through smartphones and laptops. The therapist can monitor the progress virtually through feedback forms or observations. Therapists can, then, train parents to assist their children in treatment activities. They help the parents make adaptive arrangements to ensure effective participation in their child as part of their daily routine. 

Kinspire Can Help

Looking to set up shop with home-based programs for your patients? Kinspire makes developmental therapy accessible, affordable and do-able for families and occupational therapists like you!


  1. Novak I, Honan I. Effectiveness of paediatric occupational therapy for children with disabilities: A systematic review. Aust Occup Ther J. 2019;66(3):258-273.

  2. Hung Kn G, Fong KN. Effects of telerehabilitation in occupational therapy practice: A systematic review. Hong Kong journal of occupational therapy : HKJOT. 2019;32(1):3-21.

  3. Metin Ökmen B, Doğan Aslan M, Nakipoğlu Yüzer GF, Özgirgin N. Effect of virtual reality therapy on functional development in children with cerebral palsy: A single-blind, prospective, randomized-controlled study. Turkish journal of physical medicine and rehabilitation. 2019;65(4):371-378.

  4. Novak I, Berry J. Home program intervention effectiveness evidence. Physical & occupational therapy in pediatrics. 2014;34(4):384-389.

  5. Novak I, Cusick A. Home programmes in paediatric occupational therapy for children with cerebral palsy: Where to start? Australian Occupational Therapy Journal. 2006;53(4):251-264.

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  7. Milton YM, Dunford C, Newby KV. Occupational therapy home programmes for children with cerebral palsy: A national survey of United Kingdom paediatric occupational therapy practice. British Journal of Occupational Therapy. 2019;82(7):443-451.

  8. Dunn W, Cox J, Foster L, Mische-Lawson L, Tanquary J. Impact of a contextual intervention on child participation and parent competence among children with autism spectrum disorders: a pretest-posttest repeated-measures design. The American journal of occupational therapy : official publication of the American Occupational Therapy Association. 2012;66(5):520-528.

  9. Beckers L, Geijen MME, Kleijnen J, et al. Feasibility and effectiveness of home-based therapy programmes for children with cerebral palsy: a systematic review. BMJ open. 2020;10(10):e035454.

  10. Cason J. Telehealth opportunities in occupational therapy through the Affordable Care Act. The American journal of occupational therapy : official publication of the American Occupational Therapy Association. 2012;66(2):131-136.

  11. Fingerhut PE, Piro J, Sutton A, et al. Family-centered principles implemented in home-based, clinic-based, and school-based pediatric settings. The American journal of occupational therapy : official publication of the American Occupational Therapy Association. 2013;67(2):228-235.

  12. Walker BJ, Washington L, Early D, Poskey GA. Parents' Experiences with Implementing Therapy Home Programs for Children with Down Syndrome: A Scoping Review. Occupational therapy in health care. 2020;34(1):85-98.

  13. Law M, Anaby D, Teplicky R, Khetani MA, Coster W, Bedell G. Participation in the Home Environment among Children and Youth with and without Disabilities. British Journal of Occupational Therapy. 2013;76(2):58-66.