We use both a preventative and educational model with all of our clients. Our treatment includes addressing problems before they arise by ensuring efficient brain processing that allows for continuous development of foundational skills, especially during the first year of life. This includes recommending sensory-rich activities, teaching developmentally appropriate positions, and optimizing the environment or routine. As children reach the age of two and older, we continue to improve brain processing so they can master these same foundational skills. Typically by the age of three or four, a delay in these skills leads to a neurobiological disorder like Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, and Sensory Processing Disorder. Our goal is for each child to process information at a high enough level that these diagnoses (and associated medications) are eventually lifted.
Before We Start
Since the nervous system, digestive system, and brain are integrally linked, we recommend that clients initially see our partnered functional medicine, nutritionist, and chiropractic providers. After we rule out or ameliorate discrepancies regarding how information is processed in the digestive and nervous systems, we focus on our treatment. This approach means that we are working from the lowest level of processing within the body to the highest level; the result is that we assess and treat the whole body. Because this approach ensures that the correct neurochemicals are available in the brain to make the changes that we want, we know that our occupational therapy services will be as effective as possible.
We Create a Daily Dose Home Program
The progress of our clients is heavily correlated with carryover at home. We design 5-10 minute daily programs that target the processing at a specific level of the brain. These programs are easy to implement and they are adjusted to fit into the current family routine. When these programs are implemented every day, the client’s progress is fast and significant.
We Track Progress
Every 3 to 4 weeks, we administer an informal assessment that measures subcortical processing. We track the integration of primitive reflexes, core strength, functional vision, standing balance, proprioceptive discrimination, and tactile discrimination. Through this assessment, we identify the level of the brain where the processing breakdown has occurred and consequently develop a program that targets this level of the brain. After all of the structures at this level are processing information effectively, we target the next level of the brain where a processing breakdown has occurred. We continue in this way until all of the subcortical structures are processing information effectively. This consistent assessment allows us to measure progress accurately and adjust our treatment plan as needed.
We use a preventative-educational model that takes a holistic perspective by focusing on changing how the brain processes information.
The Historical Client-Treatment Approach
The field of occupational therapy has used a fix-symptom approach since it was founded in the 1950s. This was an effective approach for treating veterans who returned home with decreased skills due to physical trauma. However, the population that we work with today as pediatric occupational therapists is much different.
The Current Client-Treatment Approach
Neurobiological disorders are rising and are the majority of diagnoses on our caseload. According to the CDC, ASD diagnoses are at a record high of 1/48 with 9-11% of children diagnosed with ADHD and a 17% increase in developmental disability diagnoses in the past 12 years. Using a fix-symptom approach with these neurobiological diagnoses is tedious and ineffective. The OT Collective is one of the first therapy services to switch to a neurologically-based preventative model to accurately address the growing number of these diagnoses. This means that we provide services to children as young as age 0 as well as children who do not show an obvious developmental delay or specific diagnosis.
Why We Use a Preventative Model
The first 8 months of life are the most important for a child’s motor and skill development. This includes the integration of survival and primitive reflexes, core strength and postural development, and functional vision skills. Unfortunately, the first 8 months of a child’s life are often the most stressful for a parent. Using this model, we are able to address every caregiver’s concern, regardless of whether occupational therapy services have been recommended by a pediatrician. Our goal behind this preventative model is to provide the support that can prevent future issues, problems, or delays.
How We Implement this Approach
From the moment a child starts developing, we recommend a holistic approach to establish a healthy nervous system, gut, and brain so that we can prevent decreased processing and/or developmental delays as much as possible.
We are available to come into the home to help:
Improve sleep and nutrition
Alleviate emotional and/or behavioral difficulties
Demonstrate developmentally beneficial positions
Teach adequate sensory-motor activities
Promote parent-child attachment
Adapt the environment
Help to establish a routine
We Connect with our Community
We pride ourselves on improving the processing in children and caregivers as well as increasing the neurological knowledge and understanding of a scientific approach to occupational therapy of community members and professionals.
At The OT Collective, we value the Boulder County community and respect all that it has to offer. We understand that there are many services to choose from, many treatment options, and many ways to help your children. We regularly give talks, lead discussions, and present relevant information to our community to inform them of our approach. We strive to educate parents, teachers, professionals, and curious individuals about the nervous system and how the brain processes information so that the best decisions are made with regard to supporting every child.
We regularly meet with professionals in the community to discuss how our services overlap and/or to inform others about sensory processing disorder and our treatment approach. The OT Collective has established relationships with several like-minded professionals in the community so that we can treat every client from “the inside out.” If you are a teacher, instructor, coach, therapist, or another professional in the community, we encourage you to contact us.