occupational therapy

play therapy at home and school
At PTN, Therapists and Teachers are Partners during Your Child’s Journey
At PTN, Therapists and Teachers are Partners during Your Child’s Journey 1000 667 PTN Chicago

Now that the school year is back in full swing, you may be wondering about how much you should be communicating with your children’s teachers. Teachers, after all, are a lot like stand-in parents when your child is at school. They monitor behavior, offer rewards (and sometimes punishment), and can have a big impact upon the interests and habits that your child develops. Those can all be great influences, but if they aren’t lined up with what you’re teaching at home, problems can arise.

The situation only gets more complicated if your child participates in speech therapy or occupational therapy. With so many adults offering guidance and advice, it can be all too easy for signals to get crossed and messages to get mixed. That can lead to frustration for your child and for you.

That’s why at PTN we are so vigilant about working not just with children, but also with their parents and teachers. We see the adults – and older siblings – who spend the most time with our kids as partners in their overall development. By getting everyone on the same page, we can make occupational, speech, and physical therapy for kids more cohesive and effective.

Your Role in Your Child’s Occupational Therapy

The first way that we involve both parents and teachers in therapy sessions is by meeting with children in the environments they’re most comfortable in. That can include both the home and the classroom. We find that working with children on their “home turf” helps them feel more relaxed and confident. It also makes it that much easier for parents and/or teachers to participate. By observing, asking questions, and helping with various play-based therapeutic activities, you’ll be empowered to build upon your child’s development between sessions, and the same is true for teachers.

We also strive to keep the lines of communication as open as possible. We can meet with teachers to keep them up to date on the work your child is doing with us, and we can even provide them with written reports that they can reference whenever they need to.

If your child has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), we can provide our input and help ensure that any standards set at home or in the classroom are built upon in therapy sessions.

To learn more about occupational therapy in Chicago, give our office a call. Whether you’re seeking an initial assessment or want to learn about ongoing play therapy, we are happy to answer any questions you may have.

aquatic therapy chicago
Fun in the Sun with Aquatic Therapy
Fun in the Sun with Aquatic Therapy 1200 1018 PTN Chicago

As the weather continues to warm up, more and more children are heading to the lake, ocean, or pool to enjoy fun in the water. If your child has mobility issues or other developmental issues, they might feel left out of this play, but in many cases, they don’t need to be!

Playing in the water with your child is a wonderful way to help them improve their strength, relax their muscles and mind, and gain social skills in an environment that is both stimulating and calming.

Aquatic therapy is the term used for physical therapy that happens in water, usually a pool. Our therapists love working with children in the water, because aquatic therapy has a number of benefits over land-based therapy for many children:

  • Water reduces your body weight by about 90%, making it easier to move in the water and alleviating painful stress on joints. Many children with muscle or mobility issues are able to move with a greater range of motion in the water.
  • Being submersed in water places a gentle pressure all over the body that can be very calming, much like a weighted blanket.
  • Playing in the water is fun! Mixing up physical therapy sessions with a dip in the pool is a great way to add some excitement and joy to play therapy.

If you’ve never engaged in water therapy with your child before, you might want to start by reaching out to a trained physical therapist. Our aquatic therapists in Chicago can show you how to safely get your child into and out of the water and teach you proper techniques for keeping your child safe while in the water. Safety should always be your top concern in the pool!

Next, an aquatic therapist can show you a variety of games and exercises that you can enjoy in the water with your little one. Here are some examples:

  • Building leg strength: While you hold their body facing away from you, you can have your child put their feet on the pool wall and push backward, helping build muscle strength and coordination.
  • Improving mobility: Practicing walking or running in water that is about waist deep is a great way to build mobility skills in an environment where it won’t hurt if you take a tumble. Plus, the water adds extra resistance, helping build strength.
  • Blowing bubbles: Learning how to blow bubbles in water is a lot of fun and helps with social engagement and lung capacity.

Newborn babies all the way up to the elderly can benefit from aquatic therapy. To learn more about our Chicago aquatic therapy sessions, contact our team today.  You can also check out our Aquatic Therapy for Kids and Water Play boards on Pinterest for some great ideas on how you and your child can have fun in the water this summer!

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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