April is OT Month! A Conversation with Christina

April 12, 2018 BY Renee Limon

April is OT month! 

The number one occupational therapy question we get from families is: What is Occupational Therapy? Rachel Stankey answered that question in great detail, so check that post out if you have a few minutes. Rachel and Christina also did a short and sweet video listing 10 things OT’s can help with.

I took a few minutes this month to chat with Christina about her fantastic profession and why she loves to play so much 🙂

Please complete the following sentence: I love OT because…

I love OT because there’s just so much you can work on! Everybody has to function and occupational therapy addresses a huge variety of skills and diagnoses throughout the lifespan. Research shows that children (and adults) learn better when they are engaged in meaningful activities. For children, their primary occupation is to play. Therefore, I always try to make therapy patient-oriented and meaningful, which is lots of fun. You get to be creative with it!

I particularly love pediatric settings because kids show so much adaptability. It’s not only exciting to watch them grow, but also to learn new skills, gain confidence, and become independent. Kids are capable of making such a huge amount of progress. Plus, kids are just super entertaining. My work day is filled with laughs.

What does OT therapy look like?

It’s all play-based and client-centered. We work with the family to come up with goals. Therapy is child-directed. We practice new skills within play, and work on self care and life skills, or things like motor delays through play. Play is the most motivating thing for a child and it’s how kids learn. As a pediatric OT you are always problem-solving!

ot month balance beam

What do you enjoy most about working at The Hello Clinic?

I think we have a great atmosphere. You walk in and you feel it: it’s homey, relaxed and fun. It doesn’t feel medical. At our clinic, we go above and beyond with families. We work with the child’s whole team, from other clinicians and collaborate with pediatricians, school teachers and therapists. We are open and flexible. We never say no. The Hello vibe is awesome.

Are kids with special needs the only ones who can work with an OT?

Every child could benefit from having an OT in their lives. Delays or medical diagnoses are not a requirement to benefit from working with an OT. OT’s are all about being a creative problem solver with a medical frame of reference. When in doubt, ask an OT!

Christina also shared some tip sheets from AOTA’s website that she highly recommends that outline routines for every age and times that are often a struggle for families: mornings, meals, bath time, homework, bedtime, etc.

What’s great about these tip sheets is they are applicable and essential for every kid, whether they are typically developing or have special needs.

You talk about play a lot. How important is play?

I think that it’s important to touch upon the necessity of active and creative play in a child’s life. I think free play can often be overlooked and scheduled with activities or screen time. However, unstructured play is essential to a child’s growth and development starting from infancy to teenage years. Play promotes development in all areas: cognitive, motor, linguistic, social/emotional skills. So make sure your kids have time to play and just be kids!