What is occupational therapy?
According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, “occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants help people…participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities.” Occupational therapy helps people with physical, mental, or cognitive disorders most effectively live their lives.
The AOTA emphasizes client interaction. The client is always involved in the decision making process. Therapy is determined and implemented according to their own personal goals.
An example of an occupational therapist
Natalie Bruno is the owner and therapist of Cardinal Kids Therapy in Cherry Hill, NJ. According to her website she “specializes in the evaluation and treatment of children with variety of diagnoses and/or disorders, including ADHD/ADD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Brain Injury, Down Syndrome, Developmental Delays, Sensory Processing Disorders, Auditory Processing Disorders, Nonverbal Learning Disorders, Visual Perceptual/Motor Delays, Praxis Difficulties, Fine Motor Delays and Handwriting Challenges.”
Bruno works with children. Her goals, naturally, involve working through learning and behavior difficulties. Her end goal? Improvement and maintenance in everyday life.
Personally, she focuses on sensory integration, which is how an individual processes external stimuli. From Bruno’s website: “Sensory integration is the ability to register, organize, and adapt to different sensations that occur in everyday life.”
Determining how her patients process their environments, she can then create an approach to therapy.
How can occupational therapy and audiology work together?
Sometimes, when a child has a certain type of processing problem (such as auditory integration deficits or auditory processing disorders) an occupational therapist will need the help of an audiologist.
Auditory processing disorders (or APDs) are not easy disorders to boil down. Essentially, though, an auditory processing disorder can be understood as “a weakness in the ability to quickly understand information an individual hears.”
Working together, the occupational therapist and the audiologist can determine strengths and weaknesses in their patient’s learning profile.
What is the goal?
The goal is optimizing how a child or an adult with an auditory integration deficit learns. Existing strengths may be leaned on, while further therapy – through the occupational therapist – will uncover compensatory strategies to work for the weaker areas.
All of this will, of course, differ case to case. And that’s no surprise, given how intimately occupational therapy is keyed into the individual’s life, goals, and mindset.