“Over the Counter” Occupational Therapy Strategies for Teachers

by Tammy Wheeler, MS., OTR/L, and Diana Henry, MS., OTR/L All teachers want their students to succeed. Many teachers, however, are overwhelmed with the huge responsibility of providing quality education for students with different learning levels and needs. Without specific training, educators may misinterpret sensory processing deficits and/or attention deficit-like behaviors and may think that referrals for medications are the only solution. There are alternatives to drugs, fortunately. These “over the counter” options are low cost and enjoyable, have no side effects, and can help every student succeed. Magic potions? No, sensory-motor activities! Equipped with the knowledge of how sensory-motor development impacts learning and behavior, occupational therapists are providing “user-friendly” OT strategies to teachers, students and parents. The therapists show educators how activities can be easily integrated into the classroom to help students learn and feel good about themselves. We can all see that children love movement; in fact, they often crave it. There are many types of movement. Rhythmic,…

Sensory Processing Disorder Early Intervention

by Carol S. Kranowitz, MA Every day, Sensory Processing Disorder receives new recognition as a common problem among children.  Recognition is good, but those of us who know about it and see the benefits of a healthy sensory diet want more.  To prevent sensory integration dysfunction from hindering our children’s development, we want Sensory Processing Disorder early intervention and identification. One way to encourage parents, teachers, and other early childhood professionals to address SI dysfunction is to help them see it as a developmental problem.  Kids don’t grow out of Sensory Processing Disorder; they grow into it, unless we spot it and treat it — the sooner, the better. Early identification is often possible if children attend a center with an occupational therapist (OT) or a savvy teacher on staff, who can observe their behavior over time. Sensory Processing Disorder can also be detected by a pediatric team using a multidisciplinary approach.  Another avenue is a screening.  A screening is…

Parenting Special Needs Children

Parenting special needs children can be quite the challenge, but children will more easily reach their full potential if the adults around them are working as a team. Collaboration with Professionals A child’s neurodevelopmental disorder or disability brings parents into contact – and sometimes into conflict – with doctors, teachers, and therapists. Here are suggestions for developing partnerships with professionals for parenting special needs children. Develop Positive Communication Skills It’s easy for the relationship to become adversarial, but that’s counter-productive. You make it easier for professionals to give you what you need if you communicate with them positively. Be Assertive But Not Aggressive Say what you believe firmly, but not with anger or implied threats. Your goal is to get them to listen – not to make them defensive. Listen It’s easy to spout a list of grievances, but if you don’t listen to the professionals, you can’t expect them to listen to you. Your goal is open communication. Act…

Special Needs Therapy: Collaboration is the Key

by Patricia S. Lemer, M.Ed., NCC, Chairman of the Board, Epidemic Answers Many parents are willing to try innovative special needs therapy, and they also believe they are entitled to whatever therapy is necessary to make their child well.  They feel their children simply cannot wait a generation for the results of clinical trials and research to prove a new therapy’s efficacy. Several burning questions consume my thoughts: “How can we make innovative therapies more accepted and available?” “What can we do for kids who languish while awaiting all types of therapies and services?” “What about children whose families can’t afford private therapies?” “What are some reasonable solutions? Answers came from Dr. Edward Feinberg, a veteran administrator of Anne Arundel County, Maryland Public Schools.  Last month he spoke passionately about his system’s financial dilemma of delivering “promising therapies” to ” those who want them. Who Pays for Special Needs Therapy? Unfortunately, it is often finances, not children’s needs, that determine…