Definition of OT in the title is referring to the term, Occupational Therapist - the role is to work with a client to help them achieve a fulfilled and satisfied state in life through the use of "purposeful activity or interventions designed to achieve functional outcomes which promote health, prevent injury or disability and which develop, improve, sustain or restore the highest possible level of independence (AOTA Inc. 1994).
As coping with autism child in term of their behaviour issues at home can be very challenging, parents have to deal with anything from toileting issues to self-harm, and this can be very hard for some parents to do it by their own. These children with autism have complex needs, some parents and carers may find it difficult to trust other person to care for their autistic child - but that is not the issue that I’m dealing with the parents right now as they do trust all staff including the teachers and myself. I believe that there is a good cooperation from all of the teaching and support team that makes us easier to provide service at the same time, reaching goals for each child – bear in mind that each child under our care is targeted to achieve development of their gross motor, fine motor and self-help goals in our 5-days per week program.
The occupational therapy is to determine each child’s need for sensory integration accommodations and provide consultation to the team and parents in strategies to address individualized sensory processing disorder goal in every setting. My other role as an OT is to support the children in improving their play skills, living skills, social skills, and education. Here at Letzhop EIP Selayang, we are focusing greatly on the sensory processing, which refers to child’s ability to take in information from environment and appropriately process and respond to the sensory system.
Sensory processing is seen through a child’s ability to respond to, engage with and learn their own body and how they can relate it to the surrounding. This will help them to be more capable in interacting with the environment and increasing participation in daily living skills.
At Letzhop EIP Selayang, we provide a one-to-one therapy session for once a week for each child. The session is to support the objective and goals targeted. Both the OT and the teachers plan for every child’s needs and will take into account their strength, challenges, development and sensory profiles. We believe that this will help the children to be more independent in their work, personal care, and social interaction.
As read and learned, autism is believed as an unseen disability since it is quite impossible to identify one’s condition through the physical or external signs. Autism children with similar physical and external features like other kids may not act similarly with children with no learning challenges or special needs. Strangers and public with no autism experience may not know or familiar with how they act and behave – this could be one of the reasons why some parents choose to not leave the home and this issue later on is leading the whole family with an autistic child becoming socially isolated.
Our responsibilities here at Letzhop is not to only achieve the targeted goals but to also ensure parents with autistic children get confidence on how to tackle such “obstacles” when going out or dealing with strangers with zero-knowledge (and maybe sensitivity) of autism. An experience I had, based on an observation at a public area – the KTMB railway station, there was a boy who was running around all excited, and ignoring his mother’s yelling out his name was later on jumped off the station onto the train rails. He was later saved by the public but the KTMB staff scolded him, not realizing his condition or even asking the child’s mother of his condition – the reason why he jumped off the station and all. I had to go and tell the staff that obviously, he is a child of special needs and that his scolding was not necessary.
The mother was not entirely unlucky to be dealing with the child’s tantrum when they were in the train. I could still see other people who are kind enough to give away their seats for the child and his mother although they were not sure of his condition. All these kind people need are a little bit of information and probably more awareness on autism and autistic children. That way, we could help the children as well as the parents whenever that we encounter such incident again out in the public.
Nurul Huda Binti Nor Kasani
AOTA Inc. (1994). Policy 5.3.1: Definition of occupational therapy practice for state regulation. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 48(11), 1072-1073.