OT what is it??

OT what is it??
Kids learning through doing!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Therapy "vacations" are generally NOT a good idea

As this is time off time, I want you all to think about yourself and medication.

Would you take time off from blood pressure medication just because you have time off of work?

Would you stop a specialized diet for diabetes just because this time of year there are too many goodies to resist?

If you are logical, the answer would be "of course not"!

Well the same goes for your child.

A sensory skewed child, one with learning challenges, behavior issues, may find that time out from school is the IDEAL time to have therapy.  No homework to compete with, no after school programs, no tutoring to go to--just a down time with a purpose.

An extended therapy time may be just the thing for your child to stay on track and be on track when school starts back up again.  I am not saying everyday, but 1-2 times during the vacation can be an ideal time to address sensitive areas of competence at a stress-free time.

For those children with social issues, you might ask if they could bring a friend to work on a project in OT together, getting in fine motor, task design and social skills!!

Instead of therapy being something to take a vacation from, think of OT during vacations as something to enhance and enrich the time off!!

Should a teacher diagnose your child!!---NO!!

Too often I hear that “…Tommy’s 2nd grade teacher told me he has ADD so I went to the pediatrician and he prescribed_______”….. HOLD the phone!!~

Stop the presses!!!  Freeze and do not defrost!!

Teachers cannot diagnose!!  And too many are taking the “squirmy kid” and giving him or her a label!

And shame on the pediatrician who goes on the teachers’ say so!

ADD can be seen on a PET or MRI of the brain. It can also be diagnosed through comparative checklists filled out by parents, teachers, and others who interact with the child.  These checklists are them interpreted by a developmental pediatrician or and psychologist.  NOT a TEACHER.

I have nothing against teachers; I was one years ago before becoming an OTR.  But nothing I learned in a top 25-education college ever taught me about brain function.  And ADD/ADHD is a disregulation of brain functional capacities.  It can be treated both chemically and with occupational therapy teaching the child strategies for coping and self-calming, etc.

So before you head down that path think about where the information comes from.  ADD/ADHD can look like an attention problem when it is really a sensory integration issue.  Sensory information not processed correctly can throw off a child’s ability to know where their body is in space (so the wander), make touch uncomfortable (squirmy in their clothes), or make reactions to sound extreme, to mention only a few of the issues that may present in the “inattentive child”.

Sensory issues can present as under-reactive (low affect, slow to respond, sluggish child), over-reactive (highly emotional, always on the go, poor adaptability to changes, etc.) or that it looks like ADD but is not.

And then there is the sensory seeking child.  Ants in the pants, always touching, cannot keep his/her hands off of anything, has no fear, and is moving too fast to easily respond and or react to verbal directions. They need lots of repetition to learn new tasks.  NOT because they are not paying attention, but because their mind is moving like a firefly and cannot land long enough in a “comfort zone” to relax to learn.

These children generally do not respond to medication.  So the “give him a pill” knee jerk of too many unqualified individuals is often to the detriment of the child.

So before you walk that path, talk to a pediatric occupational therapist for a full evaluation, a developmental pediatrician and interface that with information from the teacher.  It really does take a “village” to diagnose a child properly.