By Linda Pearson, Wood’s Homes Stabilization Assessment Clinician
This month, the contributions of Occupational Therapists (OTs) across the country are being celebrated. Occupational Therapists uniquely contribute to the field of mental health as they serve to enable people to perform the occupations that foster health and well-being. Essentially, they are in the vocation of helping people with the “job of living” giving them the tools to perform meaningful roles and daily activities. Within children’s mental health, OTs work to promote successful participation in the occupations of children – play, school, friendships and self care – that characterize a healthy childhood and can support later success in life.
An occupational therapy assessment is a valuable tool when gauging a child’s emotional and behavioral regulation skills. Knowing what activities excite (up-regulate) and calm (down-regulate) a youth’s body will inform coping strategies for a variety of symptoms such as anger outbursts, hyperactivity and settling for bedtime. We will similarly consult with an OT to combat risk behaviors in adolescents such as running, substance use and self-harm. Often these symptoms are sensation-seeking in nature and the implementation of a ‘sensory diet’ can proactively address a youth’s need for sensory input from their environment.
At Wood’s Homes, we are proud to have OTs on our diverse staff team as they help us:
- Adapt the environment to be a better ‘fit’ for kids (from a developmental, cognitive & sensory perspective)
- Create safety plans that address sensory-seeking behavior and tailor coping strategies to the individual
- Empower and enable children and teens to achieve independent living skills
- Collaborate with parents/caregivers, educators /school supports, counsellors, social workers, psychologists, and family physicians.
- Provide hope for the future, even in challenging times
Learn more about OT through the Alberta College of Occupational Therapists at http://acot.ca/
Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your friends, family and community – let’s work together!