Category Archives: Occupational therapy

Graduated with an OT degree: Going into Pediatrics

I have been an occupational therapist for 12-13 years (I took a year and a bit off to have kids). I have seen the changes that the profession has gone through and those that it is going through. From capitation of inpatient therapy to funding cuts to early intervention, it has been a roller coaster. The one thing that I do think that has been constant is that becoming a pediatric occupational therapist is NOT an entry-level position, even for the newly minted OTD (entry-level).

Why?

Pediatrics has many different facets in itself. Just look at the age range that encompasses pediatrics – 0 (birth) until 21 years of age. Yes, some programs consider under 21-years of age as part of the pediatric population.

So what are the areas of Pediatric:

  • Orthopedics – Usually this is part of a hospital program. In California, it can be part of California Children’s Services Medical Therapy Unit which primarily treats children with Cerebral Palsy and other neuro-skeletal diagnoses.
  • Early Intervention – Children under the age of 3 years are in this group.
  • School-Based – Preschool – over 3 years of age up to 18 years
  • Outpatient Clinic – Dependent on the clinic
  • Sensory Clinic
  • Inpatient Rehabilitation

Within these groups these there are subspecialties (i.e. Hand therapy, augmentative communication, feeding, oral motor, swallowing).

Children are not small adults. Majority of the time as a therapist you are not RE-habilitating them, you are habilitating, supporting, challenging, educating.

It is hard enough for an entry-level therapist to try and get the skills down to understand what to do with a child, then on top you have the family. Family that is confused, concerned, and have been send here and there for this test, that doctor, this specialist. You become a different type of therapist that, if not open, can misrepresent what the occupational therapy profession can do for their child.

Option for new grads to consider if they want to go into pediatrics: take a lower rate to insure mentoring and supervision for at least a year. Actual onsite, face-to-face mentoring and supervision. Creating a solid foundation for the rest of your OT career. Think of it has been paid for continuing your education and becoming a good representation of the occupational therapy profession.

 

A Gym, a Community

I have always wondered when a child doesn’t need therapy but needs to continue to have a sensory rich diet, where do they (them and their families) go? Playgrounds/parks have really limited equipment and restrictions with how you can use the equipment. To place a swing in the middle of the living space may not be an option especially if you live in an apartment or in rental property. Plus, kids grow, so the equipment needs to be bigger too.

I have had an idea for families that wish to provide their kids with sensory needs a place to go where they have access to equipment. But also provide a place for families can create a supportive community for each other. Learn, play, and laugh with other families that have had similar experiences.

This place I am talking about is a sensory gym. Not a therapy gym, a sensory gym. They are popping up, mainly in the East Coast. But they are being created by active, motivated families that want the best for their family. They started small and have grown. One such place is Extreme Kids and Crew in New York. Yes, NEW YORK! http://extremekidsandcrew.org/about-us/

The director is a mom with a child with sensory needs and saw that even though therapy is great and beneficial, one time to two times a week is just not enough, and a therapist is not always necessary when you are just carrying out the basic of a sensory diet. They charge base on income and it run it similar to a workout gym. You check in and you guide your workout.

I have not found a place like this in Orange County. At least when I do an internet search.

It has been a dream of mine and this year I am making a reality. If you are interested contact me at [email protected]

 

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Who Am I?

I am an occupational therapist who specializes in feeding. What does that mean? I treat children, mainly 18-24 month-olds, who: 1. don’t eat 2. don’t eat enough 3. only eat pureed or soft food, or 4. only eat certain food. Most of the children I see do not have a diagnosis. They are kids with no really history of delays other than difficulty eating. Some do have other delays or a diagnosis.

Why feeding? I have no idea. Occupational therapy is using a person’s occupation to assist in the rehabiliation. With children it is more habilitation. As an occupational therapist (OT), I look at the whole child and what a child should be doing at their age – playing, sleeping, and eating. Part of playing and eating is socializing and being part of a family. I find that when eating is not going well, the whole family unit falls apart. Eating is what sustains us. It is how we fuel our body. Without food in out system and sleep – we cannot function. When feeding goes wrong it takes away from living.

My philosophy is being positive. Not happy but enjoying all the small steps towards the goal. Life is a journey of many paths. I’m honored to be part of the journey that my families take.