Tuesday, April 7, 2015

OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY: It's the Little Things that Make Life BIG!

I'm excited to share this wonderful post from a future occupational therapist!

    When I was a junior in college, I learned a big lesson from a very little boy: it is the small victories that make life worthwhile.  As someone with a calling to be an occupational therapist and a heart for kids, I jumped at the opportunity to work with Sam, a 3-year old boy with developmental disabilities.  When I first met Sam, his abilities were fairly limited, namely his motor skills.  He was yet to sit or crawl and had trouble holding his head up; nevertheless, he rolled everywhere! Although Sam was nonverbal, he communicated in his own way­­—mostly with giggles and smiles. To call him a flirt is an understatement!  At the time I began caring for Sam, he had just started preschool and had begun working with the school’s occupational therapist.  I attempted to supplement his therapy by continuing to help Sam with his goals during my time with him. 
  Sam’s progress was slow at first.  I felt unsure of the effects that the occupational therapist and I were having on him, but my hope was renewed the day Sam put a Goldfish into his mouth for the first time. Then came two Goldfish, then three…soon he was attempting to eat the whole bag! This seemingly tiny breakthrough catapulted Sam; his progress throughout the rest of that year was truly remarkable.  His strength improved, along with his fine motor skills.  Sam was now able to hold his head up long enough to read a book or swing with me on a warm afternoon.  A few Goldfish eaten independently turned into entire meals, and songs once simply sung to liven up the car ride home became tunes in which Sam could clap along.  Another essential skill Sam learned was sign language. Signs like “more” and “finished” became an integral part of his vocabulary, which were of great use during mealtimes.  A few signs may seem like a minor accomplishment, but the difference they made in Sam’s ability to communicate his wants and needs was monumental. 
  Occupational therapy had a marked impact on Sam’s quality of life, and continues to do so today. Not only has Sam experienced its positive effects, but his family has reaped the benefits as well.  Although the improvements made through occupational therapy may be small victories, they amount to something so much greater: independence, self-esteem, well-being, and overall participation in life.  I can’t think of a more wonderful thing to help people achieve!

To read the next post in the "little things" series, click HERE!

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