Occupational Therapy

What is occupational therapy and why do I need a therapist?

Maybe your child appears clumsy, or has difficulty using their hands together to do everyday tasks and activities? Maybe their handwriting appears illegible? Or they have a hard time staying still when necessary? Maybe they prefer to play alone rather than with others? Or maybe they have poor boundaries, and push, touch, or bump into other kids constantly, which repeatedly turns into arguments and fights? Or they experience limited food choices or other types of sensitivities? Maybe they appear to lag behind other kids in reaching developmental milestones? Or maybe your child or adolescent feels anxious and constantly overwhelmed and doesn’t want to participate or engage with family, peers, or others during everyday activities, and is growing increasingly isolated; as a parent or caregiver, you don’t know what else to do to help them?

Occupational therapy (OT) is an evidence-based holistic scientific health profession that works with individuals of all ages and levels of ability to help them do the things they want and need to do in life. Many people are unaware that OT exists until they or a family member becomes sick or injured! However, individuals need not be disabled before taking advantage of what OT offers. Many people work with an OT to enhance their wellness and overall quality of life. OTs practice in diverse settings including hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, skilled nursing facilities, schools, community centers, and pediatric outpatient clinics. They can work independently or with other professionals including doctors, psychiatrists, teachers, psychologists, counselors, case managers, physical therapists, and speech and language pathologists.

OTs complete a master’s or doctoral degree level of education, participate in fieldwork at various clinical and community sites, and pass a national standardized board exam. Licensure is then granted and regulated by the individual states. An OT’s educational process focuses on all aspects and levels of human development, emphasizing enhancing functional performance in day-to-day tasks and activities in all types of environments (i.e., home, school, work, community).

Kim can help you or your child improve, adapt, or learn new strategies to enhance functioning in a variety of areas and daily activities including self-care routines, home management, school and play activities, leisure pursuits, and work.

Kim works with children (5+), adolescents, young adults, and adults to promote:

  • Life skills development to support independent/inter-dependent living
  • Health/wellness skills development to support self-care and lifestyle balance
  • Executive functioning development to promote task management in daily routines
  • Social and play skills development (social thinking)
  • Sensory and self-regulation development (sensory processing and sensory integration)
  • Gross and fine motor skills development
  • Visual motor and visual perceptual skills development
  • Handwriting

What do you mean by social thinking?

Social thinking is a complex skill set that allows us to interact and relate with others via our words and body language. Being socially competent requires us to interpret or act upon what we are thinking AND respond to what others might be thinking as we engage with others within various environments and contexts. We express social competency by effectively taking turns, demonstrating an ability to read another’s emotions during interactions, staying on topic during a conversation (or switching topics as needed), making appropriate eye contact, and physically keeping oneself at an acceptable distance from another. Applying competent social thinking and social reciprocity skills informs us and others about what we and others know and think!

Social thinking and executive functioning deficits can co-exist; outsiders may view individuals with these concerns as a person who may struggle with conceptualizing ideas to a larger whole (displaying literal or concrete thinking patterns), exhibit difficulty with grasping the main idea or interpreting themes, recognizing/understanding the needs or feelings of others, and/or generalizing a learned response to other related situations. Occupational therapists can help to improve social skills to support occupational participation in various environments.

What do you mean by sensory processing and sensory integration?

Sensory integration is the body’s ability to take in, organize, and process all the various sensations from the environment so that the individual can respond to the world in a meaningful way. This involves seven senses, including the five traditional senses of sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch, along with two others, proprioceptive (positioning and movement of our joints and muscles) and vestibular (sense of gravity, head movement, and balance).

Individuals with sensory integrative dysfunction can have difficulties with over-responsivity (over-reactive), under-responsivity (under-reactive), and/or may experience planning difficulties (getting the idea of what they need to do, getting their body into proper position, and then using their body to do the task effectively).

Sensory integration is a complex neurological process that all children and adults experience continually throughout their lifespan. Some individuals have excellent sensory integration and processing, some have problems in only a few areas, and others have much broader difficulties covering a wide range of activities and occupations. Sensory integration is a continuum and each person processes sensation in his/her unique way. If an individual has challenges processing some or all of the sensations that come into their body, performance in daily tasks and activities will be negatively impacted or limited. It can be said that these individuals have a form of sensory integration dysfunction; occupational therapy can help!