Thursday, 25 October 2018

Why Productivity? - helping for better successes

2nd blog of OT series...

Productivity refers to anything you might do to develop your skills, earn a living, manage a home or help others.

For adults this can take the form of paid/unpaid work or managing a family/home i.e. on the job skills such as conflict resolution, teamwork, time management or home tasks such as cleaning the dishes, doing laundry or caring for children.

For children and adolescents, learning through play and at school, encompasses their main productivity occupations i.e. writing/typing, taking turns, creative expression, socializing

People place a lot of value on productivity occupations as they often make up the fabric of who we are, or who we may or may not be one day in the future – their self-identity! For this reason, OT assessment and intervention for productivity type occupations can provide valuable insight. The process the OT would take is the same as described for self-care occupations.

...Let’s take a look at a more in depth example:
 Let’s say you child is having difficulties paying attention in class
An OT would start by observing the child in the environment they are experiencing the most difficulties in, which in this case is at school, to gather information on the specific challenges that child may be experiencing:

·       Is there a specific subject that is more challenging?

·       What is the child doing in the moment where attention is challenging?

·       Are other children experiencing difficulties as well?

·       What does their workspace look like?

·       What is their seating arrangement like?

·       Where are they positioned in relation to the teacher/other students?

·       What is the environment like – lighting? Noise level? Temperature?

In addition to observation, interviews with the teacher(s) and the parent(s) as well as the child, would be necessary for the OT to gain a clear picture of the issues and potential barriers. 

...As for solutions:

·       Sometimes frequent movement breaks throughout the day are what a child may need

·       Adaptive seating may also be required, seating that allows for more movement

·       The classroom environment is just to stimulating for some children, so working collaboratively with the teacher and other school stakeholders to mitigate this stimulation is sometimes what is needed

Similar to self-care occupations, each individual presents with their own set of unique circumstances that may be hindering their performance in productivity type occupations, so each treatment plan will vary according to the individual.

If you or a loved one is experiencing challenges with PRODUCTIVITY type occupations, please contact your Occupational Therapist today for more information. Stay tuned for the final week of our OT Month Blog to learn more about the most enjoyable type of occupations yet: leisure!

Written by:

Rachel Tavares, OT (Reg.) Ont., Registered Occupational Therapist, Bodiworks Institute

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Self Care - Help for this important part of life and development

October is Occupational Therapy Month! What better time to learn more about OT?   
...If you are not quite sure what Occupational Therapy (or OT for short) is, don’t worry, you’re not alone!

Occupational Therapy is a health profession that empowers people of all ages to overcome barriers in their everyday lives so they can do more and live better (, 2018)

Occupational Therapy looks at your ‘occupations’, or any daily activity/task that is meaningful in your life and works together with you to figure out ways to accomplish that task. Sometimes we might suggest an assistive device, other times we might modify your surrounding environment, or we may explore different ways of completing a task. The possibilities are endless!

OT’s tend to group occupations into 3 categories:

1)    Self-Care

2)    Productivity
3)  Leisure

In this series of blog posts, we will be exploring each of these 3 categories to help you better understand what they are all about and what OT can do to help.


Self-care encompasses everything that you might need to do to take care of yourself. This can include basic personal care such as getting dressed, toileting, feeding yourself or it can be more complex tasks such as shaving, taking medications or nail hygiene. Anyone can experience difficulties with self-care at any point in their lives, which can be due to injury, chronic disease, disability, age, mental health or a multitude of other concerns.

So what can OT do to help?... Well, an OT would start by looking at all aspects of your life, the activity in question and your surrounding environment to first establish what might be getting in the way of you being able to take care of yourself. From there, an OT would work collaboratively with you to determine appropriate solutions to the problem.

Let’s look at an example... Let’s say your child is having difficulties feeding themselves during mealtime.  An OT would start by observing a typical meal time and gathering information on the challenges:
  • Is the child having difficulties holding their spoon? 
  • Sitting in their chair? 
  • Do they understand how to feed themselves? 
  • Do they look like they are in distress?
What about their environment ? does the social and physical environment set the child up for success? What is the lighting like in the room? What about the noise level? The kitchen set-up? Further assessments are often necessary.

Then onto solutions! ...Sometimes a modification such as an adapted utensil or seating may be all that is needed. Other times, a more in-depth and routine feeding therapy involving gradual exposure to a food might be the answer. Often social-sensory issues are at play.  Each situation is unique and requires an in-depth look and evaluation. 

OT’s recognize that each individual presents with their own set of unique circumstances. This means that no single treatment plan will ever be the same! If you or a loved one is experiencing challenges with SELF-CARE, please contact your Occupational Therapist today. Stay tuned next week to learn more about productivity occupational therapy.

written by Rachel Tavares, OT (Reg. Ont), Occupational Therapist, BODiWORKS Institute 

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Sensory Importance and Difficulties

Sensory Processing

Our SENSES – where would we be without them? They allow us to experience the world in so many different ways – from smelling the scent of fresh flowers, to being able to feel the soft fur on a puppy, to listening to your favourite song on the radio. Sensory processing is essentially our ability to conceive, plan and carry out an action so that the sensations that we experience are translated into a meaningful bodily response. So, turning up the volume and singing along when you hear your favourite song come on the radio!

Some individuals experience difficulties processing sensory information, which in turn greatly affects how they are able to live their lives. Current estimates indicate that between 45—96% of children on the autism spectrum experience sensory processing difficulties (Ben-Sasson et al, 2009; Lane et al; 2010). Many people may experience challenges processing sensory information, but it is only when those challenges start to interfere with their everyday functioning i.e. their ability to participate in school or complete self care tasks, that this becomes a problem.

We all know and have learned of our ‘5 senses’:

             Touch (Tactile)

Taste (Gustatory)
Smell (Olfactory)

Sight (Visual)
            Sound (Auditory)

But there are also 3 more, less well known, very important senses that affect the way we interact with the world.

Our vestibular sense, or our sense of BALANCE, relies on receptors located in our inner ear to help our body regulate and adjust to movement in any direction i.e. riding in a car, train or plane.

Our sense of proprioception, which uses information from receptors in our muscles and joints, helps our bodies understand their POSITION IN SPACE and apply the appropriate amount of pressure we may need for i.e. writing with a pencil, pushing pedals on a bike.

Last but not least, our sense of interoception, or our ability to sense what is happening INSIDE OUR BODIES, relies on a variety of receptors in our organs, muscles and skin, to help us identify things like when we are hungry, need to use the bathroom, feeling changes in temperature or pain level.

Individuals with sensory processing difficulties will often be either:
  • HYPER-sensitive (extra sensitive), 
  • HYPO-sensitive (under sensitive) or 
  • have difficulty discriminating what sense they are feeling entirely!                               
  • This can differ between senses too. For example many individuals with sensory processing challenges have trouble with either getting dizzy easily or never getting dizzy, feeling the need to push, jump, pull or hang or feeling the need to avoid these sensations. Or maybe they can only handle certain textures of foods in their mouths or don’t like to get their hands messy. These are all examples of sensory challenges, which may or may not be impacting on the individual’s ability to function in their daily lives.

If you are concerned that your child’s sensory processing abilities may be impacting their daily activities, please speak to your Occupational Therapist for more information and guidance.

Written by: Rachel Tavares, OT (Reg.) Ont. Registered Occupational Therapist, Bodiworks Institute