Fun and

Sensory Interventions

Out of Sync Child

The American Occupational Therapy Association



Every single day I see the challenges that parents face when they have a child that they have concerns about and cannot get the answers to their questions or the services they need. There is a great deal of information out there and many parents learn quite a bit on their own, but I find that parents really appreciate being able to get some information that is about their own child. We can work together so I can learn about your child and then try to work with you to find some answers and get started in the right direction. Of course, having individual OT services is by far the best scenario itís not always possible due to waitlists at clinics or living in a remote location. So letís see if we can figure some things out together! Send me an e-mail and we will set up a time to talk and get started.

Tracey B Schaeffer OT Therapist Anchorage AKTracey Schaeffer is owner and therapist and has been an occupational therapist with more that 20 years of experience working with children.

I graduated from The Utica College of Syracuse University in 1991. After working in general and neurological rehabilitation for a couple of years I began to work with school-aged children and eventually added early intervention (birth to three). For three years I worked across rural Nevada. In 1995 I moved to Kotzebue, Alaska, where I continue to work with the early intervention program and the school aged children.

My original motivation for becoming an occupational therapist came early, as I had a cousin who experienced autism. I became involved with the school and camp that he attended at a young age and remained involved until I graduated from college. I enjoyed watching the OTís while they did various sensory activities, and learned that nature and the great outdoors can provide even more than a clinic ever could.

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Occupational Therapy Clinic Benefits Children And Students by

The occupation of a child is play. Sometimes, when certain problems stand between a child and normal play, the help of an occupational therapist is needed. The University of Missouri-Columbia School of Health Professions is completing its first year of providing this type of help for children through a clinic staffed entirely by occupational therapy students, supervised by a licensed therapist. The pediatric clinic is providing early intervention for children and a place for students to get hands-on experience in their field of study.

"In the past, services were often not provided to children until they were of school age. Research shows that early intervention is best because the brain is more capable of change during that period of time. So, especially for children with long-term issues, early intervention can help address any challenges a child may be experiencing before they are set and become an even greater hurdle," said Lea Ann Brittain, clinical instructor of occupational therapy and clinic coordinator.

The clinic provides evaluations for children of all ages, but the majority are of pre-school age. Brittain said the children could experience anything from difficulty with handwriting and dressing themselves to poor coordination and fine motor skills. The evaluation helps pinpoint the problem and the cause. Children in need of occupational therapy range from children with cerebral palsy or autism spectrum disorders to prematurity or developmental delay. Occupational therapy uses purposeful activities to promote the greatest possible function in performing daily tasks.

"If a child is a year old and not using a fork, then that is not an issue; however, if a four-year-old child is not using a fork, then that is a problem," Brittain said. "People really underestimate the amount of stress these types of delays can cause for families. We are just one element. What really helps kids is people coming together - parents, other community and therapy supports and schools

." The clinic also complements the work being done at the School of Health Profession's Robert G. Combs Language Preschool. Brittain said those students involved in collaboration with other disciplines really learn the benefits of working as a team. "Students demonstrate much better clinical reasoning and understand what is realistic to expect," Brittain said. "These real-world scenarios also teach them how to work with families and kids with special needs."

University of Missouri 329 Jesse Hall Columbia, MO 65211-1280 United States responses.