What can you do if a child won’t touch certain things or wear certain clothes?

Occupational therapy helps little Isla lead her best life

Patty Schuette wasn’t sure if occupational therapy could help her daughter, Isla, when she first heard about it.

Isla – an energetic, curious 8 year old – had challenges her parents couldn’t overcome on their own. She was having some challenging behaviors and difficulty regulating her emotions. In addition, she wasn’t sleeping well.

“She used to wake up at least 12 times a night,” Patty says. “We were desperate.”

She and her husband really wanted to help Isla, but they weren’t sure where to start. Isla’s pediatrician referred them to occupational therapy, which helps kids be more successful with everyday activities at home and school.

After working with Katie Cummins of Fairview Pediatric Therapy, Patty says she was “amazed” at the changes in Isla.

“We worked with Katie to develop different strategies for Isla’s sensory processing and sleep issues,” Patty says. “We used the brushing protocol, joint compressions, and compression clothing.”

Those are all tools that put gentle pressure on a child’s skin to stimulate their nerve endings and calm them. That helped Isla navigate her bedtime and daily routines.

Sometimes the therapist had to get creative. When Isla wouldn’t touch shaving cream, fearing an unpleasant texture, she was encouraged to try it with her feet – which she did, successfully.

Isla also learned through occupational therapy how to regulate her emotions. “Now when she is frustrated at school,” Patty says, “she knows to ask to take a break, go to the library for a few minutes, and then come back in, calm and ready to learn.”

As a family, they learned that occupational therapy was not something confined to their one-hour sessions at the clinic.

“We felt like the most important part of therapy was Isla’s homework,” Patty says. “For example, we might do wheelbarrow races or log rolls to provide some calming sensory input before a busy day.”

It’s that partnership, Patty says, that’s helping Isla be her energetic and curious little self.

Find out whether pediatric therapy could help your child.

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