My daughter has been working with an occupational therapist for almost 6 years now. This person, her OT, is imperative to her success at school.
To help you understand why, I should explain that my daughter’s medical condition has resulted in her being very small for her age. At 4’4” at the age of 16 and in grade 10, she has difficulties with the school environment around her. When she sits at her desk at school, she’s unable to reach the ground with her feet and is unable to sit properly to access her computer due to the chair and desk being too large for her.
The OT springs into action
The OT who works with my daughter quickly identified the mismatch between my daughter’s stature and the chair/desk size, then advocated on behalf of my daughter to the school board to secure funding to provide her with a specialized seat that can be fully adjusted to meet her needs.
Her specialized chair can be adjusted to make the desk a better fit for her. The chair has a footrest and adjustable armrests to support her while she accesses her computer or works at her desk.
My daughter also has a tremor in her right hand, impacting her ability to access her computer when typing or to write legibly. The OT worked with my daughter to identify the best laptop program available to assist her while typing by programing the keyboard to account for the tremor.
The OT also evaluated my daughter and identified the type of pen, which turned out to be a weighted pen, that would enable my daughter to be able to write more legibly despite the tremor.
Dealing with cognitive difficulties
Staying organized, following instructions and keeping up with her peers can be tricky for my daughter, who has cognitive difficulties.
To remove obstacles for my daughter, the OT worked with her teachers to identify techniques and strategies that would help her be more organized. The OT also educated the teachers on how to give my daughter directives so that she would be more successful in completing daily assignments.
The OT also pointed out to the school that my daughter’s small stature impacted her ability to carry heavy books to and from school, sometimes preventing her from completing homework, then took the time to assist my daughter with selecting a book bag that would fit her needs due to her size.
These cognitive difficulties also had an impact on my daughter’s social skills, so the OT helped her by teaching her interpersonal skills and how to read non-verbal communication and social cues.
Occupational therapy can help
As a result of all these interventions, my daughter has progressed by leaps and bounds over the past 6 years. My daughter likes her OT and finds it helpful and rewarding to work with them. Without access to OT services, my daughter would not be as independent, successful and functional as she is today.
Some schools have occupational therapists on staff. Sadly, you may have to wait a significant amount of time before you can access this service. If you’re looking for a faster solution, it could be a good idea to consult a Lifemark Occupational Therapist. Check our Locations page to find a clinic near you or book online to schedule an appointment with a Lifemark clinician.