Thanks to Dr. Nicole Grant for her assistance in creating this article. Dr. Grant is a Brisbane OT specialising in children’s Occupational Therapy, including specialised assistance for kids with autism.
So you’re school has recommended an Occupational Therapist for your Brisbane child… where do you even start? In truth, most kids could do with a session with an Occupational Therapist at some point in their young lives as they cover so many of those things we as adults assume are “simple” when actually they’re tricky when you first start learning (hello holding a pencil correctly – such a challenge for little hands). Occupational therapists tend to specialise in one area (Autism, ADHD etc), or one life phase (OTs accustomed to work in stroke rehab clinics might not be the best choice for a lively 8 year old) so choosing the right one comes down to your child’s needs.
What is an Occupational Therapist?
An Occupational Therapist is a university trained allied health professional who helps people achieve health and wellbeing through occupation. Although you might associate ‘occupation’ with going to work, an Occupational Therapist actually works with anybody who needs help participating in everyday activities. “Occupation really refers to any activity we are involved in, from toileting, to interacting with others, to doing the weekly grocery shop. We aim to help our clients develop life skills in the areas that they find challenging.” said Dr Grant.
For children, this can involve help with the following areas and can involve play, creative exercises and evidence based techniques:
- self care skills (e.g dressing, toileting, eating)
- life skills (e.g. community access, money handling, shopping, food preparation and other household tasks etc)
- sensory processing
- fine motor development, particularly handwriting
- gross motor development/ coordination
- attention/ concentration
- social skills
- visual processing
- literacy/ numeracy skills
- tone and posture
- behavioural difficulties
- children with Autism, Down Syndrome..
How do I find a good Occupational Therapist in Brisbane?
All practising Occupational Therapists need to be university trained and registered with the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia. To maintain their registration, they need to commit to ongoing professional development. Start your search for an Occupational Therapist by asking your school, family and friends for recommendations. A good resource to find an Occupational Therapist in your area is the Occupational Therapy website. where you can search for a therapist by their area of expertise, where they are located and if they are an approved provided for Medicare, HCWA, Better Start, NDIS and a range of other funding options.
It’s important to choose an Occupational Therapist who specialises in your area of need – if you are wanting someone who works with children, an Occupational Therapist who works in workplace rehabilitation or aged care, may not provide you with the specialised help you need. Dr Grant specialises in Helping Children with Autism and has a PhD in autism interventions. She says, “An Autism (ASD) diagnosis may leave you feeling confused. As the Autism Spectrum is vast, it’s vital to see a fully qualified and experienced Occupational Therapist to get the best results for your child’s very specific needs.” It’s a good idea to ask an Occupational Therapist what areas they specialise in, what training they’ve undertaken and what their experience is.
Also consider the following when choosing your Occupational Therapists:
- Will the Occupational Therapist come to your home or will you need to attend a clinic? If your child has autism, visiting a clinic can be stressful.
- What fees does the Occupational Therapist charge?
- Are you eligible for funding (e.g. HCWA), a Medicare or private health insurance rebate? Your Occupational Therapist can help you determine if you may be eligible for any funding.
- How often will therapy need to take place and how long will it continue?
- What are your therapy goals and how will they be measured?
Kid friendly Occupational Therapists Brisbane
OccTherapy – http://www.occtherapy.com.au/
Kids Potential – http://www.kidspotential.com.au/
Kids Play Occupational Therapy – http://www.kidsplayot.com.au
Agile Therapies – http://agiletherapies.com.au