Occupational Therapy

therapeutic skills
Simple Ways to Keep Your Parenting Resolutions This Year
Simple Ways to Keep Your Parenting Resolutions This Year 1000 667 PTN Chicago

With a new year upon us, you might be thinking about New Year’s resolutions. One common resolution that we hear from the parents we work with is that they’d like to create more time in their busy schedules to work on home program activities. It’s a goal that is easier said than done, because there is only so much time in the day, and often the urgent outweighs the important.

Whether your child benefits from occupational, physical, or speech therapy, finding time to work on those skills with your child on a regular basis is a great goal that will benefit your child immensely. One easy way to get started with as little stress and time-commitment as possible is to incorporate therapeutic strategies into the things that you already do with your child.
Here are some simple examples of ways that you can incorporate therapy into activities that you likely already do every day.

Sing songs in the car.

When driving your child to school or daycare, turn off your radio and ask your child what song they’d like to sing. If they’re too young or not verbal enough to choose, pick a few songs that you like and sing them for your child. Even just listening to songs stimulates a variety of areas in the brain and improves language development. By choosing interactive songs like “If You’re Happy and You Know It…” you can also help your child develop their listening and imitation skills.

Take a back seat during bedtime.

At bedtime, it’s easy for us parents to go into autopilot – putting our kids in jammies, brushing their teeth, and choosing the books we’ll read for them. Whenever time allows, try to take a step back and give your child a bit more control over bedtime. Let them choose their jammies and give them the opportunity, if possible, to try to undress and redress themselves. Likewise, show them how to brush their own teeth and let them have a say in what books you read. Going about bedtime this way will take a bit more time, but it will help your child enjoy the routine more and improve their self-help skills.

Invite your child into the kitchen.

Whenever possible, let your child work with you in the kitchen to prepare meals. Their help might be as simple as pouring pre-measured ingredients into a bowl or even pressing the appropriate buttons on the microwave. Your child may also enjoy playing with pretend food or with unused pots and pans on the kitchen floor while you cook. You can talk about what you’re making and practice skills like counting and following directions.

But most of all, remember to enjoy the time you have with your little one. Don’t worry about carving out a ton of time each day. A little one on one time goes a long way!

For more suggestions, feel free to reach out any time. Our occupational therapists, speech therapists, and physical therapists are here to support both you and your child in any way that we can.

occupational therapy and autism
How Our Occupational Therapists Support Children with Autism
How Our Occupational Therapists Support Children with Autism 1000 750 Triston Kee

Being a parent is never easy. It comes with its own rewards and challenges, and those rewards and challenges can be significantly amplified when you have a child with autism. Fortunately, many children on the autism spectrum have a legally protected right to occupational therapy through public schools, and many more can receive fully covered private occupational therapy through health insurance and federal and state programs. This therapy can be incredibly helpful for both the children and their parents.

Occupational therapy focuses on helping people perform everyday activities that are needed to get by. People recovering from injuries, dealing with mental illness, and people with developmental delays can all benefit from occupational therapy.

In the context of autism, occupational therapy can be an important tool for gaining skills that might come more readily to children who aren’t on the autism spectrum. These skills can include learning to play with other children, learning to listen to instructions, communicating basic needs, and feeding, bathing, and dressing oneself.

In our Chicago pediatric therapy practice, we regularly work with families who are affected by autism. The process starts with assessment. An initial assessment can include discussion with the parents and teachers about behavior patterns, observed problem areas, any diagnosed medical conditions, and questions and concerns. The goal is to determine where the biggest concerns lie and to create an intervention plan that will work for both the child and the family.

Meeting Children and Families Where They’re At

When working with kids with autism, we like to meet with them in environments where they feel most comfortable to help reduce stress, encourage positive associations, and make the whole process easier for everyone. We’ll often work with children in their homes, back yards, or even favorite local parks.

Specific therapies that can be helpful for children with autism often start with identifying any underlying sensory issues and creating games or routines that help address those issues. An estimated 80% of children with autism have sensory processing issues, which means that these children have trouble filtering out sounds, sensations, and/or sights that overwhelm them. (Imagine listening to thumping music all day with a strobe light blaring in your vision, and you might begin to understand why some children with autism act out.) Understanding what sensory issues may be at play makes it easier to address those issues with tools like weighted blankets, massage, and soft tag-free clothing that help children feel more relaxed and at ease in their own skins.

Working with the family is also an important part of occupational therapy for children with autism. As a parent, caretaker, or sibling, it can be very easy to get overwhelmed and have trouble empathizing with certain behaviors. An occupational therapist can help by showing the whole family how to incorporate play therapy and more positive responses into their existing routines at home.

If you’re looking for occupational therapy in Chicago for your child, please give our office a call. We’d be happy to answer any questions and provide more information and resources.

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