Sometimes kids are loud and that’s okay: Embracing the playful noise of pediatric therapy

As adults, we often don’t realize that our world is not exactly made for children. A lot of pressure is put on parents and children alike to play by “grown-ups’ rules” and many social spaces are deemed inappropriate places for children to be children. Add children with exceptional needs to the mix, and the world can seem even more unwelcoming to little ones. Reach for the Top Therapy Services, in Dover, NH, works to provide the opposite: a safe and welcoming environment where children’s needs are prioritized, as well as support in advocating for children and their needs in the community. 

Pediatric therapy environments play a crucial role in the development and well-being of children facing various physical, cognitive, sensory, and emotional challenges. At Reach, the therapy spaces are designed with children in mind to provide them with the tools and support they need. In this atmosphere, noise levels can often rise to high levels when children are having fun and equally, when they are dysregulated, which may be disruptive for parents and family members participating in the therapy sessions, or even other children, who can become overstimulated. Below we explore some reasons why pediatric therapy spaces can sometimes be loud, and why it is often a sign, the children and families are in the right place, and that noise is okay.  

Diverse Therapeutic Needs 

One of the primary reasons why therapy environments can get noisy is the diversity of children they serve. Families that work with the Reach team seek therapy to support their children through a variety of challenges that can be physical, developmental, sensory, or emotional. As therapists work with these children, they adapt their methods and techniques to suit each child’s unique needs, leading to a dynamic and vibrant environment. 

Play-Based Therapies 

For young children, play is a natural and effective way to engage in therapy. Reach values the play-based and relationship-based approaches as they have strong outcomes in pediatrics, because children learn best through play, nearly 200 times faster than skills taught without including play. Engaging in play can help children build trust with their therapists, express themselves, and learn new skills. However, the excitement of play can often become loud and energetic, which is a positive thing, that also may increase the overall noise levels in the clinic. 

Emotional Expression and Communication 

As a neurodiverse-affirming clinic, Reach is a safe space where children are encouraged to freely express their emotions and thoughts. Therapy sessions often awaken a wide range of feelings in children, such as frustration, fear, or excitement, which can lead to increased outbursts and dysregulation, because they feel safe to feel and process those emotions. This is expected, natural, and valuable for the child-therapist relationship, as it allows professionals to gain further insights into a child’s inner world, enabling tailored approaches and support. 

Sensory Stimulation 

Sensory integration is a significant aspect of pediatric therapy, especially for children with sensory processing disorders. At Reach, therapy spaces like the new sensory room or the sensory garden are deliberately designed to provide a variety of experiences, including tactile, auditory, and visual stimuli. These sensory-rich environments aim to help children regulate their responses to different sensations and adapt to various environments. Consequently, the presence of sensory equipment and exposure to different stimuli can contribute to a noisy atmosphere, but it is essential for children’s therapeutic journeys.  

Group Therapy Sessions 

Group therapy sessions are a common practice at Reach for the Top Therapy Services. These sessions encourage interaction, communication, socialization, collaboration, and play, which can lead to increased noise levels. Although it may appear chaotic at times, group therapy provides valuable learning opportunities and helps children develop essential social skills together in a more natural and inclusive way.  Peers accept other peers energy and arousal levels and learn how to adapt, request space or tools to be able to stay regulated and participate, or advocate for their needs in the relationship or group, as they would with peers at school and in the community. 

Parental Involvement and Education 

Reach’s family-centered therapy model frequently involves parents or caregivers, who are crucial to their child’s progress. Families are encouraged to actively participate in therapy sessions, learn techniques to support their child’s development at home, and engage in therapeutic play with their children. The inclusion of parents adds another dimension of emotions, activity, and interaction to the therapy environment which may raise the volume of the sessions. Reach believes that pediatric therapy environments are vibrant, noisy, and lively for good reasons. The energetic atmosphere is a testament to the dedication and commitment of therapists in tailoring interventions to meet the diverse needs of children. The activity and noise in these environments are not a sign of disorder but rather a reflection of positive engagement, emotional expression, and collaborative learning. With therapy, children develop essential skills that will shape their future as they grow, learn, and overcome challenges in lively settings. Embracing the noise and energy of therapy environments ensures that children receive the support and guidance they need to thrive and reach their fullest potential.  If environments seem consistently too overwhelming for a certain family, we always encourage families to let us know, as we have more secluded treatment areas, as well as tools like noise-canceling headphones that can support both the child and/or the caregivers.