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 has a hard time making eye contact and staying still when necessary? Prefers 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 experiences limited food choices or other types of sensitivities? Maybe he/she appears to lag behind other kids in hitting typical 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, is growing increasingly isolated and you don’t 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. In fact, many people are completely unaware that OT exists until they or a family member becomes sick or injured! However, individuals do not need to be disabled before taking advantage of what OT has to offer. Many people choose to work with an OT to enhance their wellness and overall quality of life. OTs practice in many diverse settings that may include 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 and case managers, physical therapists, and speech and language pathologists.

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

Kim can help you or your child to improve, adapt, or learn new strategies to enhance functioning in a wide 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 allowing for more independent living
  • Health/wellness skills development and lifestyle balance (self-care)
  • Improved executive functioning and task management in daily routines
  • Social skills and emotional regulation development
  • Play skills development
  • Improved sensory processing/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 the ability to interpret or act upon what we are thinking AND respond to what others might be thinking as we engage with each other 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 inform 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), has 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 on a continual basis throughout the lifespan. Some individuals have excellent sensory integration and processing, some have problems in only a few areas, and some others have much broader difficulties that cover a wide range of activities and occupations. Sensory integration is a continuum and each individual person processes sensation in his/her own unique way. However, if an individual has a hard time processing some or all of the sensations that come into the body, there is a very good chance that 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!