Onscreen text: How does it work?
Jess Feary (occupational therapist): So how occupational therapy usually works is that, in the first session or the first couple of sessions, the therapist will work with the family or with the other people involved in the child’s care, to develop some goals for that particular child.
So there’s different ways that this might happen: it might happen through observation; interviewing the family or interviewing the teacher; using formal assessments, so that they can identify what the gaps in the child’s skill development are. There’s a range of different ways that the child is assessed. Following that assessment the family and the therapist will agree on some goals for that particular child.
In the subsequent sessions, the child and the therapist and the family will work on building up the skills to be able to achieve the goals that they decided on in the first sessions.
So there’s lots of different strategies that the occupational therapist might use in order to help that child’s skill development in those areas.
One is modelling, the therapist might show the child how to do that particular skill, and really break it down for them, so that it makes it easier for them to learn.
Another strategy that the therapist might use is prompting. So maybe providing physical prompts to the child so that they can build up their understanding of how that skill is carried out, so then they can learn to be independent in that particular skill.
Another strategy that the therapist might use is modifying the environment. So, for instance, if a child is having particular difficulty with attending to the teacher during mat time. It might be observed that one of the things they’re having difficulty with is that they’re looking at all the different things on the walls. So the occupational therapist might work with the teacher to try and reduce that, the amount of things on the wall. So that then the child can better attend in that particular activity.
The therapist might also provide specific equipment to the child, in order for them to participate more independently in that task. For example, a child might be having difficulty with using scissors to cut. So as a stepping stone towards them being able to cut independently, the therapist might recommend that they use spring loaded scissors, so that they can do that first and then build up their fine motor skills. So they can eventually cut independently.
Onscreen text: Can OTs help with my interactions with my child?
An occupational therapist can help you with your interactions with your child by helping to identify activities that your child particularly enjoys. And then working out ways that you can increase the interaction between yourself and your child within those particular activities. So for instance, we may identify that your child really likes being spun around, they like whizzy dizzies. So therefore we work out ways in which your child can really interact with you within that particular activity, to make it more an interaction, rather than the child just being spun around.