What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational Therapy helps people to do the everyday things that they want to do and need to do when faced with illness, injury, disability or challenging life events.

Occupational therapy is a client centred health profession concerned with promoting health and well being through occupation. The primary goal of occupational therapy is to enable people to participate in the activities of everyday life. Occupational therapists achieve this outcome by working with people and communities to enhance their ability to engage in the occupations they want to, need to, or are expected to do, or by modifying the occupation or the environment to better support their occupational engagement.
(World Federation of Occupational Therapists, 2010)

5 Key Features of Occupational Therapy:

  1. The unique focus of Occupational Therapy is on the person’s occupation. Occupational therapists use the term occupation to describe all the things we do to take care of ourselves and others; socialise and have fun; and work and contribute to society.
  2. Occupational therapists understand how illness, injury, disability or challenging life events can affect people’s ability to do the day-to-day things that are important for them.
  3. Occupational therapists are experts at assessing how different health conditions can affect people’s abilities and helping people to overcome or work around the difficulties that are affecting their daily occupations.
  4. Occupational Therapy focuses on people’s strengths and therapy is always guided by the client’s preferences (or those of their family in the case of children).
  5. By tailoring a programme that responds to the client’s unique situation and needs Occupational Therapy helps people to live their lives in a way that is meaningful and satisfying for them.

Occupational therapists have a broad education in the health, social, psychological and occupational sciences which equips them with the attitudes, skills, and knowledge to work collaboratively with people, individually or in groups, to bring about positive life changes. Occupational therapists work with people with a wide range of health needs.

What is Sensory Integration?

Sensory integration refers to how people use the information provided by all the sensations coming from within the body and from the external environment. We usually think of the senses as separate channels of information, but they actually work together to give us a reliable picture of the world and our place in it. Our senses integrate to form a complete understanding of who we are, where we are, and what is happening around us. Because our brain uses information about sights, sounds, textures, smells, tastes, and movement in an organised way, we assign meaning to our sensory experiences, and we know how to respond and behave accordingly.

For others, sensory integration happens inefficiently. People with SI dysfunction have great difficulty figuring out what is going on inside and outside their bodies, and there’s no guarantee that the sensory information they’re working with is accurate. In response, a child may avoid confusing or distressing sensations – or seek out more of the sensation to find out more about it. For example, a child who has difficulty integrating tactile (touch) input may avoid unpleasant touch experiences such as getting their hands messy with paint, sand, or glue, while another child may crave such touch input and actively seek it out.

If you had SI dysfunction, ironing would be extremely taxing, even dangerous, as you’d have to think so much about what you’re doing.

For most children, sensory integration skills develop naturally. As children learn about new sensations, they become more confident about their skills, refine their ability to respond to sensory experiences, and are thus able to accomplish more and more. An infant startles and cries when a fire engine whizzes past blaring a siren, but years later when that baby is a teenager, the same noise might cause him to simply cover his ears as he watches the fire engine go down the street. As an adult, this person may merely stop talking with a friend until the fire engine passes. As sensory processing skills mature, vital pathways in the nervous system get refined and strengthened, and children get better at handling life’s challenges.

For some children, sensory integration does not develop smoothly. Because they can’t rely on their senses to give them an accurate picture of the world, they don’t know how to behave in response, and they may have trouble learning and behaving appropriately. The essential first step toward helping your child with sensory issues is to develop empathy for how they experience their world.

Is it necessary?

Many born with Down syndrome may require occupational therapy at some stage in their lives for a wide variety of reasons. There is a subsidy available to members of DSCork and you should contact DSCork on 021 4300 444 for more information.

Stepping Ahead Clinic

The Stepping Ahead Clinic which is adjacent to our Centre 21 building provides Occupational Therapy, Speech and Language Therapy, Counselling, Therapeutic and Parenting Support as well as Paediatric Fitness Training and Art Therapy to children, adolescents and young adults. This service aims to provide access to immediate individual assessment or therapeutic intervention and/or group work and also offers multidisciplinary team assessment, diagnosis and intervention.

Please see their website for further details.

www.steppingaheadclinic.com, email: info@steppingaheadclinic.com, tel: 021-4304822 , fax: 021 4397659.
You can also speak with the team in DSCork to discuss the Social and Motor groups currently being run by their Occupational Therapists & Fitness Instructor for children & adults with down syndrome.

The Sunflower Clinic

The Sunflower Clinic is an independent Occupational Therapy service in Munster and Leinster, specialising in Sensory Processing and Autistic Spectrum Disorders. They offer Occupational Therapy, Speech and Language Therapy and Psychology services in their clinics, home, and school-based settings. They have a team of highly experienced therapists dedicated to providing a caring and supportive service.  The therapy clinics are fully equipped for Sensory Integration therapy.

Please see their website for further details.

Contact details: staging.sunflowerclinic.ie: email: info@sunflowerclinic.ie Tel: 021 432 1729.

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