Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy is the provision of therapy intervention to promote an individual’s independence in completing occupations and engaging in meaningful activities. A child’s occupations include play, self-care, domestic activities, academic tasks, sport participation and social activities. Difficulties completing one or more of these may negatively impact a child’s self-esteem, ability to learn and socialise, and their willingness to engage in health promoting activities. Such unfavourable child-level impacts further burden those within the child’s social circle, particularly family. Occupational Therapists work with children and their families to build the skills needed to increase participation in meaningful activities and maintain positive relationships.

The Occupational Therapists at Beam use a comprehensive approach to ensure the best possible treatment for each child. They first perform an assessment to determine whether the child’s difficulties encountered are due to motor, sensory processing, learning, social or emotional/behavioural challenges. They gather information to understand how the child’s function is impaired; as well as their strengths, weaknesses, and what their learning style is. Occupational Therapists then use this information to develop an individualised plan – inclusive of both child and family – to achieve agreed goals.

Therapy sessions are undertaken directly with the child in a safe, fun and creative space that promotes child engagement in prescribed activities. Parents/caregivers are provided with additional strategies to enhance child skill-building outside of sessions and support to overcome challenges encountered in the home or other settings. Occupational Therapists further collaborate with relevant health and education professionals where needed. The overall aim of this process is to promote each child’s ability to complete occupations and consequently enhance their quality of life.

How can we help?

We are NDIS and Medicare registered Occupational Therapists who will help your child with areas of concern through assessment and intervention. Our experienced team of Occupational Therapists use evidence-based approaches to increase child independence and improve their capacity to play and learn.

We offer support in-home, at-school (where appropriate to do so) and online through telehealth & private video sessions. NDIS and Medicare funding may be available.

We can help in the following areas:

Learning difficulties and specific learning disabilities hinder a child’s self-confidence, academic achievement and classroom engagement. Children with either of these conditions may experience heightened mental fatigue, struggle to cope with everyday demands, and have difficulties to ‘holding it together’ while at school and then have a ‘meltdown’ when they get home.

Specific learning disabilities are defined by Auspeld (2018) as “unexpected and persistent difficulties in specific areas of academic achievement as a result of an underlying neurodevelopmental disorder, the origin of which includes an interaction of genetic, cognitive and environmental factors. One of the defining features of a specific learning disability is that the difficulty continues to exist, despite appropriate instruction and intervention.” Many children with specific learning disabilities often also experience difficulties with executive functions such as working memory, organisation, and attention.

Specific learning disabilities include:

  • Specific learning disorder with impairment in reading (dyslexia) which is characterised by heightened difficulties with decoding, spelling, and word recognition.
  • Specific learning disorder with impairment in written expression (dysgraphia) which is characterised by heightened difficulties with written expression and handwriting. A child may also experience difficulties with spelling.
  • Specific learning disorder with impairment in mathematics (dyscalculia) which is characterised by heightened difficulties with understanding numbers, arithmetic skills, and learning number facts and procedures.

Different to specific learning disorders, children with learning difficulties underachieve academically due to underlying factors such as executive dysfunctions, sensory processing difficulties, handwriting challenges, poor visual perception, and/or emotional/behavioural regulation difficulties. Their learning may also be impacted by external factors in their surrounding environments. It is notable that children with learning difficulties have great potential to achieve at age-appropriate expectations.

How can an Occupational Therapist help?

There are various intervention options to address both learning difficulties and disorders. Our Occupational Therapists assess the underlying causes of learning difficulties and assist children to understand their challenges and reinforce specific skills. They provide strategies to palliate for children who have either a learning difficulty or a specific learning disability, including recommendations for assistive technology or methods to reduce and manage mental fatigue. Our Occupational Therapists are also trained to help children with a motor-based dysgraphia to develop handwriting skills.

Learning difficulties may require intervention from other disciplines, as outlined below:

  • To obtain a specific learning disorder diagnosis, an assessment completed by a Psychologist is required.
  • Learning difficulties due to a language-based disorders may also impact learning. Language disorders are diagnosed by a Speech Pathologist, who may also specify interventions.
  • Speech Pathologists may also assist with literacy skills.

To enquire about any of our Occupational Therapy, Psychology or Speech Pathology services either complete the get in touch form below, call us or use the ‘book now’ feature.

Reference:

DSF Literacy Services (2018). Understanding Learning Difficulties: A guide for parents, Revised Edition. DSF Literacy Services. www.dsf.net.au

Executive functioning involves emotional control, behavioural management and cognitive regulation. Emotional and behavioural management includes impulse control, flexible thinking, self-monitoring, and self-control. Children who have weaknesses in these areas may have difficulties:

  • coping with changes in plans or routine;
  • dealing with challenging tasks or situations;
  • making ‘good’ choices as they act before thinking (i.e. poor impulse control);
  • understanding how their behaviours or choices affect others; and
  • controlling their behaviours and emotions.

The other category of executive functioning skills – cognitive regulation – involves the cognitive processes that allow for analytical thinking and problem-solving. These cognitive processes include working memory, planning and organisation, and task-monitoring). Children who have weaknesses in these areas may have difficulties:

  • following instructions;
  • completing multi-step tasks;
  • understanding and completing schoolwork;
  • planning assignments;
  • initiating tasks;
  • managing time;
  • focusing on a task (easily distracted); and
  • finding solutions to problems

Children who experience difficulties with all three categories of executive functioning skills (emotional, behavioural, and cognitive regulation) may experience heightened difficulties to engage socially and attend to tasks. It is not uncommon to see these children become easily disorganised.

How can an Occupational Therapist help?

Our Occupational Therapists use multisensory, skill-building approaches to assist children to overcome difficulties in executive functioning. Ongoing parent and teacher involvement is highly important to support the child to address executive dysfunctions; thus our Occupational Therapists also provide parents and teachers with recommendations on how to adapt the environment and accommodate tasks to suit the child’s abilities.

Some children may be suitable to complete Cogmed training under the guidance of our certified Cogmed Coach. Cogmed is an evidence-based program designed to enhance working memory and attention for clients of any age. However this is an intensive program not suitable for everyone. Prior assessment is advised to determine suitability.

To enquire about any of our Occupational Therapy services either complete the get in touch form below, call us or use the ‘book now’ feature.

Our days are filled with sensory experiences comprised of all the things we see, hear, touch, smell, and taste in addition to physical movement and bodily sensations. Sensory processing refers to how our brain receives, registers, and then organises all of this information to maintain an alert state. Difficulties in processing sensory input may disrupt a child’s focus and completion of daily activities.

Efficient sensory processing is the ability to filter incoming sensory information and focus only on that necessary to perform a task. For example, a child in a busy classroom that displays efficient sensory processing is able to focus on a teachers’ verbal instructions without distraction from other sources of sensory information (e.g. other students talking, posters on the walls, noise from the hallway). Efficient sensory processing comes naturally for some children, however it may be more difficult for those with hyper- or hypo-sensitivity to certain sensory stimuli.

Common presentations of children who experience sensory sensitivities (hyper-sensitive):

  • A child that covers their ears with loud noise or startles easily at loud or unexpected sounds.
  • A child that refuses to wear certain items of clothing or complains that certain items of clothing ‘feel scratchy’ or ‘hurt their skin’.
  • A child that will only eat a limited number of different foods (a ‘picky eater’).
  • A child that prefers darkness or complains of headaches with bright light.

Children who are hypo-sensitive to sensory input may not respond to their name being called, miss visual information, not notice that their hands or face are dirty, or prefer constant movement. Different from children with hyper-sensitivity, they often require a greater amount of sensory input to induce a response.

Sensory processing also involves the vestibular system, proprioception and interoception. The vestibular system contributes to motor function via spatial orientation, postural stability and balance. Proprioception also assists with motor function via body awareness and grading movement (controlling the force and pressure applied in physical movement). Children with difficulties modulating their vestibular and proprioceptive systems are often considered “clumsy”. Interoception refers to internal sensations such as feeling hunger, thirst, fatigue, cold/hot, and the need to go to the toilet.

How can an Occupational Therapist help?

Our Occupational Therapists assess each child to determine how they register and process sensory information. Recommendations are then provided to assist the child with sensory processing, completing daily tasks, and optimizing their classroom engagement.

To enquire about any of our Occupational Therapy services either complete the get in touch form below, call us or use the ‘book now’ feature.

Fine motor skills refer to a person’s ability to perform small and controlled movements to complete precise actions. Most fine motor activities involve the use of our fingers, hands and wrists; and allow us to complete important daily tasks including:

  • Self-care activities:
    • Dressing (doing-up fasteners such as buttons or zippers and tying shoelaces)
    • Grooming (brushing teeth, hair, cutting nails)
    • Toileting (responding to the need to go to the toilet, wiping, pulling pants down/up and fastening these, washing hands)
    • Eating (using cutlery, opening containers and packets, pouring liquid into a cup, applying spreads on bread or crackers)
  • Academic activities:
    • Paper-pencil skills (drawing, colouring, handwriting)
    • Scissor skills
    • Use of electronic devices (typing, using a computer mouse, using a stylus)
  • Play:
    • Creative activities (arts and crafts, play doh, beading necklaces)
    • Building activities such as blocks and Lego®
    • Doll play (dressing dolls and manipulating doll accessories)

Fine motor skills also include mouth and eye movements. Reduced oral motor skills may impact feeding skills such as sucking, chewing, and biting. Poor eye movements may impact functional activities such as reading, copying text from the board, locating objects, and playing sports. In addition, vision, eye movement and gaze control contribute to memory and attention as they determine what we see and attend to.

How can an Occupational Therapist help?

Our Occupational Therapists support children with fine motor difficulties to enhance their participation in daily activities. They use targeted therapeutic activities to assist them to address oral motor difficulties and/or improve eye movements and gaze control. A vision assessment with an optometrist is highly recommended if the child is experiencing difficulties with their eyes.

To enquire about any of our Occupational Therapy services either complete the get in touch form below, call us or use the ‘book now’ feature.

Gross motor skills refer to whole body movements involving large muscle groups such as the legs, arms and core musculature.  We use gross motor skills in our day–to-day activities including:

  • Movement (walk, run, jump, stand-up, maintain a seated position)
  • Physical activities (climb and navigate playground equipment, engage in sports, ride a bike, swim)
  • Self-care activities (stand in the shower, dress ourselves in clothes, get in and out of bed)

Children with difficulties performing gross motor skills may experience a negative impact on their engagement in purposeful activities.

How can an Occupational Therapist help?

Our Occupational Therapists assess each child’s motor skills with the goal to understand the nature of their difficulties. They then use assessment findings to prescribe and assist the child to engage in fun motor activities with a level of challenge that is ‘just right’ to enhance motor skills. Our Occupational Therapists also recommend home activities for continued progression outside of therapy sessions.

To enquire about any of our Occupational Therapy services either complete the get in touch form below, call us or use the ‘book now’ feature.

Handwriting is a complex task involving the coordination of motor, visual, sensory, and cognitive skills. It is a foundational academic skill needed to perform schoolwork of any subject. As such, children who have difficulties with handwriting often fall behind in their class work. Competence in handwriting includes the development of pre-writing and paper-pencil skills (e.g. colouring-in, drawing shapes and pictures, mastering fine motor movements) as well as transferring ideas into writing and/or generating topics on which to write (ideation).

How can an Occupational Therapist help?

Our Occupational Therapists complete an assessment to understand the underlying issues and work with each child to improve their handwriting. Where appropriate, they will assist children to develop pre-writing skills (paper-pencil, colouring, drawing shapes etc.) in preparation for school, or develop skills related to planning written work and ideation. Our occupational therapists further provide parents with home activities and teachers with guidance to best help the child and continue their development of skills outside of therapy sessions.

To enquire about any of our Occupational Therapy services either complete the get in touch form below, call us or use the ‘book now’ feature.

Visual perception refers to the way our brain interprets visual information, or in other words: how our brain makes sense of what we see. More specifically, visual perception is the brain’s ability to distinguish shapes, colours, and dimensions. Visual perception also includes the ability to distinguish objects from a background, for example finding a blue coloured crayon in a case full of various coloured pencils.

Visual perception is important to perform everyday skills such as self-care activities, doing puzzles, building games, and colouring.  Sound visual perception is also important for academic success as it is necessary for reading, writing and mathematical concepts.

Children who have visual perception challenges may have difficulties:

  • finding things when they are just in front of them;
  • completing puzzles, mazes or dot-to-dots;
  • forming letters or letter reversals;
  • sequencing letters or numbers;
  • sorting, organising or matching objects/ belongings;
  • discriminating shapes and sizes; and
  • keeping track of their place on a page when reading, copying, or writing.

How can an Occupational Therapist help?

Our Occupational Therapists assess for visual perception difficulties and provide activities to help build these skills.

To enquire about any of our Occupational Therapy services either complete the get in touch form below, call us or use the ‘book now’ feature.

Emotional and behavioural regulation is the ability to manage emotions and behaviours during an upsetting, stressful or exciting situation. Difficulties with emotional and behavioural regulation may be characterised by a child having tantrums or meltdowns due to minor reasons or enduring, strong emotional outbursts.

Difficulties with emotional and behavioural regulation may impact a child’s ability to complete and participate in daily and academic activities. In addition, outbursts are often very distressful for the child and people surrounding them, such as family, teachers and peers. Such circumstances are also disruptive to the child’s learning and/or participation in social activities.

How can an Occupational Therapist help?

Our Occupational Therapists explore (with both the child and family) suitable regulating strategies, including sensory strategies. Occupational Therapists also explore strategies that can be easily used in the specific environments in which the child has difficulties maintaining a regulated state. When a child still needs a significant adult to calm-down, our Occupational Therapists provide education and guidance on the importance and benefits of co-regulation (having another individual helping the child reach a regulated state).

To enquire about any of our Occupational Therapy services either complete the get in touch form below, call us or use the ‘book now’ feature.

Self-care activities are the daily tasks children undertake to look after themselves independently, including getting dressed, bathing/showering, toileting, grooming activities, feeding, and sleep. Difficulties completing self-care activities and following routine results from various reasons including motor challenges, sensory processing issues, reduced attention, and executive function difficulties. For some children, difficulties in self-care activities might be expressed by challenges in following a morning or bedtime routine.

How can an Occupational Therapist help?

Our Occupational Therapists assess the reasons each child experiences challenges completing their activities and address these difficulties. They help the child develop their ability to complete these activities independently and provide home recommendations to assist in this regards.

To enquire about any of our Occupational Therapy services either complete the get in touch form below, call us or use the ‘book now’ feature.

Play is a main occupation of children; providing them with an excellent opportunity for learning and development (e.g. social, language and cognitive skills) as well as an efficient method of stress reduction. Engaging in active play will also assist children to develop fine and gross motor skills that are fundamental for proficiency in daily tasks of living. It is through play that children are able to explore, develop their creativity, and access their imagination. Notably, engaging in play is easier for some children than others.

An important part of play is social skills – i.e. the skills we use to interact with others. Social skills are necessary for building and maintaining positive relationships with others (e.g. family and peers). Some of these skills may include:

  • cooperating with peers;
  • sharing toys and taking turns;
  • managing conflict;
  • problem-solving;
  • understanding social contexts and behaving appropriately in different contexts;
  • understanding emotions and social cues;
  • flexible thinking/adjusting to change; and
  • adapting to others.

How can an Occupational Therapist help?

Our Occupational Therapists engage in playful sessions with the child to develop their play skills. They also help children develop social skills to build and maintain positive relationships with their family and peers. In addition, our Occupational Therapists coach parents on how to best help continue to develop these skills at home.

To enquire about any of our Occupational Therapy services either complete the get in touch form below, call us or use the ‘book now’ feature.

Eating is a complex task that requires appropriate eye-hand coordination, core strength, oral-motor strength and coordination. It is also a multi-sensory experience that involves not only taste, but also sight and smell.

When children face difficulties in any of these skills, mealtime may be a source of stress for families. Parents often report frustrating and/or worrisome situations during mealtime such as a child refusing to eat or eating only a limited number of foods; a child struggling to stay seated during mealtimes; or a child constantly getting up and/or wandering away from the table.

Children with motor difficulties specifically may find the use of cutlery challenging; resulting in food constantly dropping off their fork/spoon or problems with cutting food. These children typically prefer to eat with their hands.

How can an Occupational Therapist help?

Our Occupational Therapists assist families to address feeding and mealtime issues including fussy eating. They may use playful feeding sessions with the child to increase engagement and interest in food. They may also provide ‘tips and tricks’ for parents/caregivers to improve mealtime manageability.

Our new facilities include a kitchenette for our Occupational Therapists to engage in fun and unique cooking activities with the child. The overall aim is to assist children to develop a more positive view on food.

To enquire about any of our Occupational Therapy services either complete the get in touch form below, call us or use the ‘book now’ feature.

Sleep is a fundamental component to health and wellbeing at any age, including childhood and adolescence. A lack of sleep results in numerous repercussions such as slowed thinking and processing speeds; reduced patience; increased stress and clumsiness; and occurrence of ‘brain fog’. There are numerous barriers to sleep for children, some of which may be addressed by an Occupational Therapist include:

  • sensory difficulties;
  • fear;
  • needing a parent in bed to fall sleep;
  • difficulties self-soothing;
  • ‘behavioural’ issues; and
  • anxiety (note: in certain cases, it may be best to see a psychologist. If unsure, we can guide you to the best service).

How can an Occupational Therapist help?

Our Occupational Therapists adopt a holistic approach to identify each child’s barriers to sleep with the goal to identify strategies for improved sleep patterns. They will consider sleep hygiene and environmental measures, as well as sensory and behavioural strategies.

It is important to note that Occupational Therapists do not treat sleep disorders. The best course of action for children with a suspected sleep disorder is a consultation with your GP and/or a sleep specialist.

To enquire about any of our Occupational Therapy services either complete the get in touch form below, call us or use the book now feature.