When people hear the phrase “occupational therapy”, they may think that occupational therapists work with people in their “occupation”. To some extent, this is true. A child’s occupation is to play and to learn. Through play, children learn how to interact with the world and form appropriate reactions. Our occupational therapists work with children as they learn through play. Treatment focuses on improving participation in the home and community through the development of fine motor skills, sensory processing skills, coordination, strength and self-care skills. For example, improving your child’s ability to open and close containers or use tools such as a pencil or a toothbrush are components of occupational therapy.
Occupational therapy also assists children in improving their ability to engage with the world and react to situations. Your occupational therapist will develop ways to help your child make sense of how he or she responds to a variety of sensory events that occur throughout a typical day. Intensive one-on-one therapy sessions provide the child and family with skills and adaptations to the challenges they face with the goal to improve functional independence in the home and community settings. Our therapists will work with you on integrating these skills into your child’s daily life.
Our physical therapists provide treatment to enable children with physical disabilities and developmental delays to become as independent as possible in all gross motor skills. They assess children to determine if they have deficits such as muscle tightness and weakness, increased or decreased flexibility, abnormal reflexes and impaired sensory perception. All of these issues can affect a child's ability to sit, crawl, stand and walk.
Whatever the child's ability, the end goal is to get him or her moving, exploring the environment and interacting with family and peers. With this in mind, therapy takes place all over the building, from working with the equipment in the physical therapy gym to riding adapted bikes in the hallways.
We work with equipment such as walkers, wheelchairs, braces, standers and adapted bikes. Our adapted bikes not only provide therapeutic benefits, but they give children who cannot ride a standard bike the experience of riding a bike.
Our therapists will help you determine the adaptations and equipment needed for your child to be as independent as possible. We also provide TheraSuit, an intensive physical therapy protocol that accelerates progress.
SPEECH & LANGUAGE THERAPY
Our speech-language pathologists treat children with varying levels of speech, language and communication deficits. We see a variety of children, from those who have trouble pronouncing their “R’s” and “S’s” to children who are non-verbal or have limited language skills. The end goal is the same: to provide treatment to help your child communicate effectively. This involves the understanding of needs and ideas through clear speech and language, whether verbal or through an alternative communication system, with skills appropriate to the developmental age of the child. We also work with children who have voice and fluency disorders to help them communicate with family, friends and peers. Children who have oral motor delays and weaknesses can also receive therapy to increase strength and coordination of the oral cavity for feeding and speech.
Children who are non-verbal or who have limited language skills can use assistive technology to access pictures or other speech-generating mechanisms that allow them to communicate their needs, wants and concerns. This opens up a whole new world of opportunity for the child to interact, learn, play and communicate. Parents are given training in using this technology with their child.
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY ASSESSMENT & TRAINING
Often children who are non-verbal with profound cognitive and physical disabilities do not make therapeutic progress at a rate that is immediately perceivable. It may often take up to a year or two to establish a solid understanding of things like cause and effect relationships. These children are often denied additional therapy because it seems they have plateaued or that their gains are not significant. Parents also have difficulty including these children in activities of daily living at home because they are not sure how to adapt the environment, nor do they have the equipment to accommodate their child’s physical and cognitive deficits. With the proper equipment and training, a parent can carry over techniques learned in therapy to help in their child’s progress. Because of this need, we created the Inclusion House where children with severe neuro-motor disorders can learn how to participate in household activities with assistive technology. Through the use of adaptive household items, children can help with tasks like peeling an apple or blending a smoothie. Parents learn how to bring these activities back home to integrate their child’s therapy into daily life.
MEDICAL & Psychological SERVICES & LEARNING DISABILITY EVALUATIONS
Volunteer physicians hold clinic hours at MCDC once a month to assist therapists with a child’s plan of treatment. An orthopedist consults with children who have gross motor concerns to recommend equipment and assess progress. Learning disability evaluations and developmental neurological exams are overseen by a pediatrician.
An on-site full-time medical psychologist works with children experiencing behavioral issues and learning concerns. She sits down with children and parents to resolve issues, prescribe medication if necessary and determine if the child might need additional therapies. Our doctors, therapists and social workers meet monthly as a multidisciplinary team to share results and progress with parents.
SOCIAL WORK & CASE MANAGEMENT
Our social workers are with your family every step of the process, from intake to discharge. A social worker is usually the first person from MCDC you will speak with about receiving therapy. Before we create the best plan of treatment for your child, he or she will receive an evaluation to determine the needs. Your social worker will schedule your child’s evaluation and pair you with a therapist. The therapist will spend time observing your child and follow the evaluation procedure to determine what therapy services will most benefit your child.
From there, your social worker provides case management throughout your plan of treatment. As needed, your social worker can provide individual and group counseling for your child and your family, help you carry out treatment recommendations and assist in using community resources.
In addition to our core therapies and services, we offer programs to integrate therapy into life outside of the McMains Children's Developmental Center. Our goal is to make our families' lives a little bit easier each day. We have a Wheels to Succeed adapted bike program, a Capable Arts summer camp, an annual Canoe trip and several other programs to supplement our therapy services.