Category Archives: Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy: Being Comfortable

A child with high tone must feel comfortable in order to communicate, which is why I love tumble foams. Tumble foams reduce the pressure off the muscles on a person’s body. The child is able to completely relax sore body parts because some of these foams are like a bed made to their bodies. I love putting little children into star fish tumble foams, these are chairs designed with tumble foam that are uniquely tailored to fit an individual’s body, because they are immediately relieved of pain. Children are able to totally relax and focus on their school work or play with their peers. Like my mentees, I also use the tumble foams, so I know what a great resource it is to have.

The child is also more likely to demonstrate their true knowledge because they are not thinking about their pain. I am able to see the immediate relief as soon as I put the child into their tumble foam, which provide their bodies support without restraining them, unlike wheelchairs which often do. A comfortable child is capable of speaking faster and more accurately which is our (occupational therapist) goal for them.

In the event that a child is sick; I recommend placing them in their tumble foams as it may assist them in recovering back to good health sooner. I was recently ill and attribute my speedy recovery from the virus, to sitting in the tumble foam every day until I got well. As wheelchairs tend to be too restrictive, when one does not feel well. Tumble foams are able to give a child enough support to be able to use their communication devices but laid back enough to relax as a person.  So, if you have a child who is always uncomfortable, I strongly encourage you to try using the star fish tumble foam, as it might take the pressure off of their body.

Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Children

Occupational Therapist: Comfort

Comfort
As occupational therapists and mentors, we have to make certain that our clients are comfortable using their equipment. A child needs to be positioned correctly and comfortably when using their power chair and communication device. I know from personal experience that incorrect positioning can have long term repercussions, which we certainly don’t want for our clients. I like to watch how my mentees are using their bodies when they drive their power chair or use their talker, as I can see if they are struggling or straining. If so, I can change the positioning of the equipment. If someone stays in a poor position for a long period of time, they can develop chronic pain or deformities, needing corrective surgery.
When my mentees are comfortable using their equipment, they are able to progress faster and get to their goal in a shorter period of time. Assistive technology allows the person to become acclimated to the tool faster and they are able to use it in their everyday life. I’ve had mentees in a great deal of pain, making them prone to getting sick but as soon as I made them comfortable, they became healthier. When you think about it, this makes sense because when someone exerts extra effort, putting more strain on the body, the body breaks down. We want the assistive technology to make their lives easier, not harder in the long run and sometimes it is just a matter of us changing the position of equipment!
An individual must be at ease when using tools that are supposed to make life easier. Otherwise, the tool is not doing its job. I give a client a month to become acclimated to a piece of equipment, or we try something else. As an occupational therapist, you want to prevent injuries which means trying different equipment and positions until the client is comfortable. If we can do that, we can potentially see a child grow up healthier and stronger, which is the greatest reward.
Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Children

Occupational Therapy: Positive Attitude

Positive Attitude
As occupational therapists and mentors, we can help our clients develop positive attitudes by helping them meet therapy goals quicker than they had hoped for. We say it and hear it all the time: a positive attitude helps the body to heal or improve much faster. By encouraging our clients to work on therapy goals, even through the pain they are experiencing, positive attitudes will shine through. I can encourage my mentees to work through the pain as they know I have severe back pain, as well and see that it’s possible to do. Positive attitudes help the clients to achieve goals faster or heal quicker, allowing them to move on to the next goal. My mentees with positive attitudes and a really good support system always get well much faster. I like to observe whether the position or movements practiced while using their device may affect their pain level or create a bad attitude towards therapy. I find that talking with my mentee about what is bothering them helps them to get their frustrations calmed. I like to discuss with my clients about my back pain and spasms, which helps them to see I am not asking them to do something, without understanding their pain.
The positive attitudes also make my job fun and enjoyable because I feed off the positivity of that when I’m dealing with my own pain. If we can facilitate our clients to have positive attitudes, it is going to help them feel better. Our ultimate goal is to help the client to feel better and to use whatever abilities they have to do some things independently. The population I see is pretty severe but with the right attitudes, they are for the most part, able to gain the ability to do many things independently, plus heal quicker. Children for the most part have positive attitudes which help in healing and achieving therapy goals faster. As professionals, we can encourage a ‘child-like’ playful, fun and happy attitude to facilitate healing.
Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Children

Occupational Therapy Is A Partnership

In occupational therapy you want to work with the clients to make a task work for them, as they usually have their own techniques to efficiently adapt . The client is able to articulate how they think you could go about solving the issue they may be experiencing with a task. For an example I am working with a client on getting comfortable with typing and I have to listen to the individual to obtain the information to be able to understand the situation. Your client will have a rough idea for a solution to the task they are struggling with during their daily routine.

As a mentor I always listen and communicate with my mentees about possible solutions to their daily struggles. My mentees respond better and they are more trusting of my service if I am able to help them to understand they are my peer. I have a clients who are young adults and by me being close to their age I am able to get them to open up. The occupational therapist will get better and quicker results if the client guides them through the process to discovering a solution to their task. I spend most of my sessions just listening to my mentees then go home to figure out a solution.

I like to work with the mentees and I have discovered that the more I can help them feel like my partner the more information I am able to gather and help them to get the root of their challenge. The client knows what they want and what they need to function, so you need to actively listen and communicate so yo can help them feel comfortable and confident driving their chair or whatever the task may be.

My clients talk with me and work with me on the different strategies they want to try to attempt to solve their challenges. The mentees tell me their ideas on how to make their equipment function better for themselves because they are the ones working with the assimilative technology. If I have a teenager I like to work based on the the mentees ideas and allow them to articulate what they want through play to address any of their challenges. I literary let the child direct our sessions because the quicker we can solve a difficult task the quicker I am able to move on to their next goal. We as “professionals” in this must listen to our clients or we will have a difficult time trying to adapt something to work better for them. The more I am able to take my time and listen to the child the quicker I am able to tackling the task. As students in occupational therapy you are going to humble yourself and listen to the clients. You and I might have our degrees which allows us to work in our respective fields but we are not the experts of our clients, our clients are the experts.

Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Children

Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy

When a child receives occupational therapy, he or she will likely receive a ‘tool’ that they will be able to make use of. Occupational therapy focuses on the functionality of a person’s limbs and making good use of them. An example of making an unconventional use of a body part is an individual using a foot to write instead of a hand. The role of the O.T. is to ‘think outside the box’.
I am used to ’thinking outside the box’ for myself so it has become natural to me. A client of mine can be seen using his eyes to type or an index finger to control a power wheelchair. Occupational therapy should be making sure the client is able to reach their fullest capability of independence. I will eventually adapt the equipment to make it look cleaner but that will be the last step in the process. When the O.T. and I work with a mentee, we want the client to get accustomed to taking on a new project and becoming comfortable with that same project, as that is how they will preform a certain task for a while.
As O.T.s and mentors, we have to be creative in the solutions for our clients. My clients have accomplished many goals in therapy, as long as I am willing to go with the person’s solutions. The clients are going to be functional and independent as long as you are willing to ‘think outside the box’ with them!

Until next time, enjoy your children.

Occupational Therapy: Mounting Communication Devices

When someone chooses to become a Pediatric Occupational Therapist they know their job is to figure out different avenues for a patient to accomplish different daily tasks. The occupational therapist knows more about the body’s mechanics and can better position the communication device for comfortable communication and do it better than a speech-language pathologist could do. The positioning of the communication device is extremely important because the child needs to use this device every single day.

The mount and the access method are primary steps of the process for mounting the device to the child’s wheelchair. It must be comfortable and easy for the child to access. The person who uses the device needs to feel at ease when communicating with the AAC system because they are going to be using the talker constantly. If the individual is uncomfortable using the communication device, they are going to either stop using it or develop chronic pain. I have severe chronic pain and I can attest that once an individual develops chronic back pain they will have it for their entire life. As a team, it’s everyone’s task to discover the perfect fit to prevent the client from discomfort during their usage of the talker. Talking is how someone showcases their personality and knowledge, so the occupational therapist must find the ‘sweet spot’ for the client’s use over long periods of time.

I have been communicating with communication devices for over thirty years now and if I am out of my wheelchair, trying to use my device unmounted, I can’t even go half of the speed I normally use my talker. As a parent, you want to insist that your child receives the right communication device and the right placement of the talker. The correct placement of your child’s talker is going to make a world of a difference in how successful their communication will be. As an occupational therapist, your job is vital because you are the carpenter building a voice. Parents -Fight for the right talker and mount and watch your child blossom.

Until next time, Enjoy your children

Communicating To Obtain Independence

Communicating on your own is truly how I define being self sufficient and independent. My professional motto is getting students to the level of communicating efficiently and independently in order to increase their chances of having a better life. When I see doctors or attend a student’s team meeting I communicate independently with my aide in the background. Communication is the key to the to creating a better life for ones self and more importantly they will be able to stand up for their rights when people try to abuse them.

I went to school for a degree in Women Studies and Sociology which helps me understand children’s rights in the public schools. Under current laws every child has the right to public education and the district has to provide children with all of the necessary essentials they need to succeed. When I was little I had a fantastic team who demanded that I be placed in regular classes. As soon as a parent or a professional can sense that a student has “normal intellectual abilities” I strongly urge them to put the pupil in general education. I believe that because my device has assisted me with communication I had the ability to demonstrate my intellectual abilities.

The individual will grow up with the same expectations as an able bodied adult. The communication system will give her or him a lot of opportunities for a life in which will be fulfilling and normal. I am that locked-in person who without my device on people assume is intellectually disabled but as soon as aides connect my device people quickly understands that I am like them.

A locked-in individual has the potential to earn degrees and hold a job they love. I do not judge a client before they have their device on because I have no information without talking with the pupil first. As professionals in the disabled realm you cannot afford to take a client at face value. Students with severe physical and speech differences are most of the time at the top of their class. If my readers take anything away from my blogs, take this away, your clients are just children who need devices to assist them in having their own voice in society.

Until next time, enjoy your children.

Pediatric Occupational Therapy The Importance of the Device’s Proper Positioning

The Importance of a Device’s Proper Positioning

When someone chooses to become a Pediatric Occupational Therapist they know their job is to figure out different avenues for a patient to accomplish different daily tasks. The occupational therapist knows more about the body’s mechanics and can better position the communication device for comfortable communication and do it better than a speech-language pathologist could do. The positioning of the communication device is extremely important because the child needs to use this device every single day.

The mount and the access method are primary steps of the process for mounting the device to the child’s wheelchair. It must be comfortable and easy for the child to access. The person who uses the device needs to feel at ease when communicating with the AAC system because they are going to be using the talker constantly. If the individual is uncomfortable using the communication device, they are going to either stop using it or develop chronic pain. I have severe chronic pain and I can attest that once an individual develops chronic back pain they will have it for their entire life. As a team, it’s everyone’s task to discover the perfect fit to prevent the client from discomfort during their usage of the talker. Talking is how someone showcases their personality and knowledge, so the occupational therapist must find the ‘sweet spot’ for the client’s use over long periods of time.

I have been communicating with communication devices for over thirty years now and if I am out of my wheelchair, trying to use my device unmounted, I can’t even go half of the speed I normally use my talker. As a parent, you want to insist that your child receives the right communication device and the right placement of the talker. The correct placement of your child’s talker is going to make a world of a difference in how successful their communication will be. As an occupational therapist, your job is vital because you are the carpenter building a voice. Parents -Fight for the right talker and mount and watch your child blossom.

Until next time, Enjoy your children

Occupational Therapsit Help with The Gross Motor Skill

The Gross Motor Skills

A severely physically disabled child will need to refine their gross motor skills in order to communicate with an AAC device. The new communication devices are more sophisticated and sensitive then they used to be, which can be both beneficial and/or challenging depending on the student’s unique impairments. Not every child with Cerebral Palsy has the same symptoms, depending upon the areas that have lost oxygen, certain parts of the brain can be damaged. In the therapy realm this fact is the reason why it is important devices be customized to each client.

As a mentor in the disabled realm my job is to ask children questions the occupational therapist might not think to ask. A child instinctively uses the body part they have most control over; therefore the occupational therapist will just have to follow the patient’s lead. When I was little the occupational therapists tried to make me use my fingers with my AAC device, but we quickly discovered that the neck was the strongest body part I had. The child knows their body and will tell you in someway which body part works best.
The Occupational Therapist needs to think outside the box because I have clients who use their eyes to operate their communication device and are otherwise able to function as “normal” students. The occupational therapist’s role is facilitating access to the communication device, and other educational adaptive technology, to aide in student communication and their ability to compete with able bodied peers. If my occupational therapist had insisted I use my hands to communicate, I honesty think I wouldn’t have had the chance to accomplish my educational goals. The occupational therapists duty is to ensure the student has access to the right talker or other AAC device (this also means mounting the talker in a comfortable place to aide in fully functional communication).

The  Occupational Therapist  is essential to my job as a mentor, because I do turn to the professional if a client is struggling with their AAC device. The occupational therapist is also the person on the IEP team who takes on the responsibility of creating a unique work space to make the individual as comfortable as possible. Being a mentor with disabilities the occupational therapist will often need my input to the students access method. My service to occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists is derived from my own struggles and what I went through starting out with communication devices. I like to ask the client what feels right to them. I ask the most radical questions like “do you have more control of your eye lid?”, “Can you twitch your cheek?” with my successful predictions the occupational therapists can take over from their and match the technology in which work best for that particular child.

The occupational therapist and speech therapist work as a team to make communication possible for the child. With my assistance the occupational therapist. understands how to maximize the child’s stronger limb to aide communication. The occupational therapist also has the role of securing a quiet work space, with the right equipment for the student to work independently. The O.T. just like the rest of us holds a special role in the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) ensemble; so parents it is beneficial to have a occupational therapist on the team. For a child to be successful it will take a village of us professionals to aide in the child’s success.

Until next time, Enjoy your children.

Playing in Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapists (OT) working with children need to understand how to incorporate play when working on fine motor skills. The Occupational therapy needs to be playful for the child to be engaged just as I do in mentoring sessions. If the child needs to work on fine motor skills with their hands give them play dough to manipulate, as this will feel like a normal activity for the kid. I have worked with Occupational Therapists, and as a mentor in the disability realm, I use play as a vice to get through to the child.

As professionals in the disability world, we tend to get wrapped up in the child meeting their IEP goals and forget to make the sessions age appropriate and enjoyable. The Occupational Therapist plays a key role in the fitting of a device for a student, as we need to first determine what body part is going to be most functionally. The Occupational Therapist and Speech Therapist usually work closely together in figuring out what body part will be the most successful.

The Occupational Therapists along with the rest of the therapists on the child’s IEP team need to work together in the process of getting the student talking. Once the Occupational Therapist can determine what body part will work best for the individual, the Speech-Language Pathologist and I are now able to go in and work on determining what AAC device would fit the child best. The quicker the Occupational Therapist is able to figure out how the child is able to work a body part efficiently, the quicker I am able to perform my job with the Speech-Language Pathologist.
Every summer I speak to graduate students in speech and occupational therapy on how to get young children to communicate because both realms of work coincide with one another. The child is legally entitled to receive the best form of therapy that will make them successfully functional in school. The IEP team is going to need the Occupational Therapist to create a work space that the child can effectively access. I depend on my clients’ Occupational Therapist and physical therapist to properly position the adolescent so they are able to use their devices. The Occupational Therapists give us the appropriate body part to work with, and I along with the Speech-Language Pathologist start working with different devices until we find the right fit.
Students in both speech and occupational therapy need to understand that for a talker to work, the child using the device needs to feel absolutely comfortable with it. Because the Occupational Therapist is trained in fine motor skills, they can figure out how to get the device that is going to work best with the child. As someone who has spent the last six years mentoring severely physical disabled children, I am going to strongly advise you to listen to the child you are working with as they will know what body part is the strongest.

AAC devices come with a plethora of access methods because everyone is different and therefore they have different needs. As I have mentioned in the previous blogs, even the most disabled child has the potential to make a life for themselves. The first step is for the Speech Therapist and the Occupational Therapist to conduct an assessment with the person to figure out what they need to have in order to find their voice. The occupational therapist is a vice to get the child to communicate, and once the child gains the ability to communicate, you will be amazed at what the child is able to accomplish.
Until next time, enjoy your children!