Supporting PMLD population with the occupation of play


Supporting PMLD population with the occupation of play

25 Nov 2021
Theatre 3

As Occupational Therapists we primarily and foremost are interested in a child’s occupations. How are they spending their day? What are they interested in, what dysregulates them, makes them happy/safe? What are their relationships? How do they process sensory information? And where are they developmentally? These are just some of the considerations when learning about a child and how we can best support them to engage, learn, feel safe and have good mental health.
Attempting to find this wealth of information out in a classroom observation and a home visit before formulating and writing a report can be challenging at times. As a therapist first and foremost, I want to provide a therapy. With the demands of modern life greater than ever and those caring for children with additional needs being the busiest of all, asking carers to sit down, read, digest and carry out the advice from a report seemed unreasonable. Particularly as many parents and professionals have many folders of reports filed in filing cabinets bursting at the seams. At the same time I was feeling that I was spending more and more time behind a computer screen rather then with my patients.
I decided that instead of spending 3 hours in assessment and 5 hours on a report, perhaps I could spend those precious 8 hours with that child and their supporting adults getting to know them and how I could help. This is what led me to developing a very modest pilot for a number of children on my caseload; shifting the way I worked with a goal for more effective intervention. Using play as the focused occupation it led me to realise that play is one of the most valuable resources we have when working with young people and we shouldn’t be afraid to use it. Play is restorative, regulating, fun, supports development and most importantly it is motivating. In my book, the perfect formula for effective intervention.

Louise Thrower, Specialist Children’s Occupational Therapist - Vigere OT Cornwall

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