What to expect
Your first OT session may be quite overwhelming, and there is sure to be a lot of information to take in. Often times, you may have questions that you won't think of until much later after the session. Your child may engage in an activity or game that you might not quite understand the purpose. You may not understand the purpose of his or her goals, and what it might take or mean to achieve them. This is where we, as therapists, come in to help with those little mysteries. It's okay to have multiple questions, and not be quite sure how to word them. We are here to help you, and are here to answer all those questions you might have. Interacting with your child's therapist is one of the best ways to ensure than you understand the process, and become a part of their success and growth. As you know your child best, we want to incorporate that into our sessions, as our goal is progression for your child.
Involve the whole family
Although therapy sessions only involve the child, it truly is an entire family experience. As therapy typically occurs only once per week, we rely on carryover within the home to see progress and make each session more efficient. Your therapist will speak with you each week to provide ideas for homework, or the home program, after each session to assist in carryover. Each week may bring variations in homework, however, it is a crucial component for optimal success for your child. If you have ever dieted or followed an exercise program, you know that you cannot achieve your goals by following them only once per week. It takes daily diligence, and follow through to truly succeed in these areas. In the same regard, if your doctor has prescribed a medication, you must take that medication as prescribed to ultimately heal your ailment. This also applies to therapy, whether that therapy is OT, PT, or speech therapy.
Therapy can involve the entire family, not just the parents or providers who bring the child. At times, a sibling can encourage a child to engage in a session or a non-preferred activity with much more ease than a therapist or even the parent can. With older siblings, it can be extremely helpful for them to understand the purpose of therapy and what is being done during sessions. Siblings can assist in carryover, encouraging progress and harboring positive relationships within the family unit. Often times, when an older sibling is invested in the progress of a child, it assists in forming a positive relationship and can allow both individuals to process the needs of that child.
Carryover on a daily basis is the most beneficial for a child. During therapy sessions, addressing shoe tying, for example, only once per week will be difficult for the child. The child may forget a step, or may not remember one correctly due to inconsistency; causing unnecessary frustration. Practicing the task each day will ensure that the child becomes successful, and will motivate them to continue in all aspects of therapy. It is also important that each task is being done the same way each time, with consistency. If one individual is teaching the child a certain way to tie their shoes, and the child's therapist is teaching them a different way, confusion and frustration may occur as a result. We create goals and plans with a strategic purpose, and execute them in a specific way that is best for each individual child. We want your child to succeed and become as independent as possible, and this consistency is key to achieve that success. This applies to all aspects of therapy, from behavioral interventions, to shoe tying or dressing, to self-regulation, and everything in between.
Communicate with your therapist
You know your child better than anyone else, and we rely on the information you give us about your child. If they've had a difficult day, didn't sleep well the night before, or are just getting over a cold; these are all pieces of information that are pertinent to their mood and participation in therapy. You would be surprised the wide span that OT covers, and more often than not, an area that you may think we can't help with; we actually can. Sleep schedules, establishing a daily routine, and even assisting your child in processing their emotions are areas that we can help with. This is why it's so important to share these pieces of information with your therapist, as we may have suggestions that can assist in areas a child has been struggling with. Communicating with your therapist will also help you understand the plan, and assist in your comfort level so that any questions you might have will be much easier to ask. We want you to feel comfortable and come to us when you have a question or concern. In that same regard, we also want to share in the triumphs and victories your child experiences. Their success is so important to us, and the most rewarding thing we can hear about a child we care for is that they are succeeding and breaking boundaries.
Why would a child need occupational therapy?
Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants allow children to thrive at their fullest potential through activities they do on a daily basis. These activities can include interacting or engaging with their peers, participating in daily tasks at school, dressing and self-care/personal hygiene, or being out in the community.
A child may have a difficult time engaging in reciprocal play with a peer, which will in turn increase their difficulty with social interactions and overall social skills. Motor skills may be limited, making developmental milestones harder to achieve. Visual perception and visual motor skills are often limited, creating disconnect within the ability to write, play catch, or engage in a sport.
Frequently, a child may have a difficult time self-regulating or self-soothing, making tasks such as toileting or leaving the home daunting and overwhelming. At times, this dysregulation may cause behavioral issues as well. Through sensory integrative techniques and behavioral interventions, we can achieve the proper state of regulation for each child to enable them to develop adequate coping skills across the lifespan.
Achieving independence with occupational therapy
These are all concerns that can be addressed with occupational therapy (OT), allowing the child to engage and participate in things they may encounter daily. Our goal with OT is to allow each child to grow, and become as independent as possible, all while having fun and exploring their world at a pace that is most natural to them. With the correct therapeutic technique, a child can, and should, learn through play to better understand their environment and process any information they receive.
Through this independence, it is our goal to help each child see their own potential, and nurture the desire within themselves to succeed and grow throughout their lifetime.
Thank you for reading our first #MPedScoop entry, we look forward to seeing you back here for our future posts!