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6 Ways Your Child with Special Needs
Can Get the Most out of Occupational Therapy

There are many benefits of therapy for special needs child
when parents and therapist work together

Occupational therapy can very effectively help the children with special needs in developing the abilities and skills that are required for carrying out day-to-day tasks or “occupations”. A child’s occupation includes self-care routines, playing, social interaction and education.

If your child is receiving or about to receive occupational therapy, it is very crucial to utilize the time spent in the therapy and to ensure that the little one is reaching her or his highest potential to develop the skills and also the abilities that are necessary for carrying out the occupations. Whether this therapy is being given in a private setting or school, here are the six ways your child with special needs can get the most out of the occupational therapy that is being imparted.

Help your child with special needs
Help your child with special needs reach his or her highest potential with the help from
professional occupational therapist, which includes ongoing sharing of notes and observations.

1. Dressing your child in a comfortable and casual clothing

The sessions of occupational therapy involve some active moments, so you need to ensure that the child wears some comfortable clothing that is loose fitting so that the child is prepped for the therapy. Wearing sneakers, comfortable t-shirts and sweatpants shall allow your child to participate in the activities freely and your child will be able to make the most of the therapy sessions.

In case your child is suffering from the sensory issues, you need to avoid scratchy or stiff textured fabrics in order to do away with the distraction of your child during the occupational therapy sessions. You need not be surprised if your child comes back from the occupational therapy session with play dough, shaving cream or finger paint on their clothing. The messy clothes are actually a great indication that your child with special needs is experiencing some really productive therapy sessions.

2. Providing the complete history

It is crucial to provide the occupational therapist in charge the complete summary of the child’s history. Sharing the crucial details that are related to your pregnancy, the birth of your child and the medical history can play a pivotal role in planning the best occupational therapy for your child with special needs. Also, you need to necessarily share the therapy evaluations that occurred previously and also the Medicare services that were received previously. This is also very helpful in informing the therapist regarding the interests of the child which also includes the child’s dislikes and likes.

You can consider preparing a notebook which would include all the information about the child receiving the occupational therapy. You would necessarily include the pictures of your child with the pets, school, teacher, pediatrician, favorite toys and also the professionals and therapists in the child’s life. Having a look at this particular notebook can act as an effective “ice-breaker” during the initial sessions of the therapy.

If the therapist knows the child thoroughly, the occupational therapy sessions imparted can be more effective. If the child and the occupational therapist bond well with each other, then it would lead to more successful and meaningful therapy sessions.

Children's world of drawing and painting
Keep a notebook about your child's interactions with pets, toys, other children and adults
in his or her life, to assist in occupational therapy.

3. Collaborating along with the occupational therapists for setting the right goals for the therapy

The parents of the child receiving occupational therapy should be actively involved in the child’s goals of receiving the occupational therapy. As parents, you need to completely know and understand the tasks and activities that the child is struggling with on day-to-day basis. You need to allow the therapist to understand completely what your child and you consider important and accordingly the right goals would be set.

If your child is not able to self-feed, then you ought to ask the occupational therapist to help the child in increasing the independence of the child during mealtime. In case your child is fond of sports, the occupational therapist should inculcate some sports activities in order to make the therapy session effective.

It is very crucial to include the child’s teacher while in the process of setting up the therapy goals for the child. The occupational therapist may ask the child’s teacher regarding the skill deficits of the child specifically which cause the unwanted barriers in school. The approach of working together as a team is indeed very critical while setting up of the objectives and goals for the child’s occupational therapy.

4. Right communication helps

Once the occupational therapy sessions are being carried out on a regular basis, it is crucial to establish the open and right lines of communication with the therapist. A spiral notebook can be effectively used as a weekly communication book. The parents of the child receiving occupational therapy should note down all the important information regarding the child and hand it over to the therapist on a weekly basis.

There can be small and big details which can be noted down by the parents in the weekly communication book. The details like whether the child was stressed out, sick or unusually calm can be noted down by the parents of the child. The information should be helpful so that the therapist would well utilize the same to know the temperament of the child which would eventually help in imparting the best and effective occupational therapy. This is to be kept in mind that the occupational therapists usually have a busy schedule and thus the communications in the notebook by the parents should be crisp and to the point. This would ensure that the therapist would take interest and follow the communications effectively and in lesser time.

In case there is some critical issue, it would be wise for the parents of the child to schedule a face-to-face meeting or a phone call in order to discuss the same with the therapist and find a solution for the same.

Avoid having your child stressed out
Children with special needs require special care and help to deal with the outside world,
in order to understand their experience of it.

5. Observing and participating in the therapy sessions

The parents can ask the child’s occupational therapist to allow them to either observe or in some cases participate in the sessions of occupational therapy of the child. By opting to do so, it would help the parents to observe and understand the child’s experiences of undergoing the occupational therapy sessions. Also, it is important for the parents to discuss with the therapist beforehand whether there would be any question or questionnaire for the parents during the therapy session. The therapist would be more than happy to involve the parents in the child’s occupational therapy sessions.

In case the child is unable to perform well in the presence of the parents in the occupational therapy session, then it would be wise for the parents not to visit the next session. Instead, the therapist can video record the session and show it to the parents. Viewing this video would indeed help the parents to get certain valuable insights regarding how the therapist can address the specific behaviors of the child during the occupational therapy session.

6. Opting for a Program that can be conducted at home

It can be effective if you can organize some occupational therapies for the child at home. There can be different meaningful yet fun activities that the child can engage in at home even during a short period of an occupational therapy session at home.

This home program includes a wide range of simple therapeutic activities which do not take much time to be conducted. The implementation of the therapeutic strategies can very likely ensure that the same would be implemented in day-to-day life even in the domestic setting.

The parents know their child the best. So, it would be really beneficial for the therapists in conducting successful occupational therapy sessions in case they get inputs about the behavioral traits of the child from the parents. The occupational therapists and parents of the child can team up in order to ensure the highest potential in the implementation of the occupational therapy for the child with special needs.

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