14 Feb 2019

BY: admin

Occupational Therapist Team

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What do Occupational Therapists do?

This year we are starting a series of posts around the occupational therapy services in our Centre. While Occupational Therapists work with adults, they also work with children and adolescents too.

What do Occupational Therapists do?

Occupational therapy helps a person become more independent carrying out every day activities. These activities include self care, work and leisure. For children, school is their “work” activity, but so is play! Play is an opportunity to practise the activities of life, including social interaction and problem solving.

How can Occupational Therapy help my child?

Occupational therapy can help children in a number of ways:

– It can help children to achieve developmental milestones involving coordination and fine motor skills.

– Give children strategies to improve skills such as getting dressed, eating, using a pencil, scissors and cutlery.

– Help parents and assist children to understand their body and sensory system and how it influences everything they do.

Occupational therapy very much works from a partnership model. That is, the OT, family and child working together to identify goals and learn new ways of doing things. Occupational therapists are also able to work with school based staff to develop strategies to support school aged children in the classroom.

At the Child Wellbeing Centre our Occupational Therapists work with young children, primary and secondary students.

Currently OT is available one Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in the Centre. Please call reception for more information about our services on 9274 7062.


Madeline Minehan

Occupational Therapist


22 Oct 2018

BY: admin

Occupational Therapist Team

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Today is the start of National Occupational Therapy (OT) Week

Everyone has daily ‘occupation’, eg, work, play, eat, sleep, dress. Occupational therapy promotes normal development and stimulates learning in children with specific learning difficulties, physical disabilities, delayed development or those recovering from illness or injury.

Working with children, their families and teachers, occupational therapists aim to improve the child’s quality of life by helping them  to participate in play, preschool, school and home activities.

An occupational therapist may work with children in any of the following areas:

Prerequisite activities – the child’s physical abilities, such as motor control, hand-to-eye coordination, body awareness and sensation.

Functional skills – the child’s day-to-day living skills, such as eating, writing, going to the toilet, interacting with other children and playground skills.

The environment – such as classroom furniture, classroom and schoolyard access, and equipment for woodwork, art and physical education.

Information sourced from OT Australia:

Please call Reception to find out more about our OT services on 9274 7062

Happy OT week!

14 May 2018

BY: admin

Occupational Therapist Team / Psychology Team

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11 Tips for Helping Fussy Eaters

Children’s eating (or not eating) can cause parents lots of worry and stress. Good nutrition in childhood is important for so many reasons. It supports children growth, overall health and learning. Yet some children are very fussy about what they eat. This may look like only choosing some foods, refusing to try new foods and skipping some food groups all together! I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve come across children and the only thing they will eat reliably is chicken nuggets.

Why are children so fussy?

Children become fussy eaters for a range of reasons. Sometimes it’s due to habits, strong wills and/or sensory difficulties. On this last point, some food textures and tastes can cause distress. While most children grow out of their fussy ways, some will need some help along the way.

What can you do to improve eating?

The following are eleven tips to help improve your child’s eating:

  1. Model good eating: Children learn so much about the world from their caregivers and modelling eating the type of food you would like them to eat is an excellent start. It is also great if they are surrounded by other children eating different food types.
  2. Make eating fun: Why not create a fruit face or cut vegetables into cool shapes? By making eating healthy food fun, children are going to be more motivated to try some. There are lots of great websites that you can try for recipes for children. For example: https://www.parents.com/recipes/familyrecipes/
  3. Have realistic expectations: Don’t expect your child to finish the plate or try new food everyday. Set small but achievable goals such as trying 1 bite of everything on the plate. Also keep meals friendly. It is better to put a small bit of new food alongside a larger amount of food that your child likes.
  4. Make mealtimes happy & social: Try and make mealtimes an important time for the family to sit down together. Avoid distractions such as having the TV on. Try not to worry about anything that goes wrong during dinner (such as spilled drinks or food). Meal times as positive as possible.
  5. Praise your child for trying: Its very important to praise and give attention to your child when they try new foods. For some children, a reward chart may be appropriate. However, do not make the reward a different food. This will teach your child that one food is more desirable than another.
  6. Do not give attention when your child is refusing: It is similarly important not to give too much attention to your child when they are refusing to eat. This can act as a motivator for children to refuse more. Try and ignore the behaviour as best as you can.
  7. Do not make special meals for your child: Tying in with the previous tip, by making a special meal for your child you are giving them special attention when refusing. This can encourage them to refuse more as they know they will get food they prefer.
  8. Give your child some say: Refusing food is often a response to wanting greater independence. You can give your child that independence in allowing them to choose their food from a range of healthy options. This way children still feel in control and are more likely to try the healthy option that they choose.
  9. Choosing new foods with a similar texture: If your child has a sensory aversion to a particular type of food due to it’s texture, try and think of some healthy options which have a different texture. This is particularly relevant if your child has ASD or another developmental disability.
  10. Offer the new food repeatedly: Your child will most likely have to see the food quite a few times before they will try it. You can also set smaller goals such as touch, smell or lick the food before trying it.
  11. Involve your child in cooking: You can also involve children in the preparation of a meal (e.g. chopping vegetables) which increases their engagement as well as giving them a chance to feel the food out before eating it.

Still need help? Then feel free to call the Centre on 9274 7062 for more information about how we can help. Our occupational therapy and psychology team can parents with fussy eaters.

Written with help from Ruby Simms-Cumbers (Behaviour Therapist).

Naomi Ward

Clinical Director

15 Mar 2018

BY: admin

Occupational Therapist Team

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Whole body movement is essential for your child.

Babies need to spend plenty of tummy time on the floor to play. From this they will then develop the muscles to enable them to roll, then crawl (commando) then creep up on all fours. Don’t prop your child to sit! They need to spend several months crawling then creeping as this ensures all of their muscle groups will be ready for them to learn to sit, pull up to stand and eventually walk. Any time between 12 to 17 months is a normal time to start walking. It is more important a child develops foundational skills during crawling and creeping than be helped to walk early!

All children should engage in free gross motor play at least 3 hours per day. Opportunities to run, jump, climb, swing and spin are essential to develop sufficient core strength and to fine tune body spatial awareness and balance. Once a child has developed postural strength and shoulder stability through gross motor play, they will be ready to sit still, listen and carry out fine motor skills required in the early school years.

A child’s occupation is to play and carry out daily living and self care skills. For example, learning to ride a bike, tying shoelaces, drawing, using cutlery and scissors. These all require essential foundational skills of postural strength and balance of the whole body.

If your child has difficulty with fine motor skills, gross motor development, balance and attention, Occupational Therapy (OT) can help. We can work with you and your child using tailor made fun activities to achieve daily living and play skill goals.

Please call Tracey at Reception on 9274 7062 for more information about the OT services at the Centre.

Madeline Minehan
Occupational Therapist

11 Mar 2018

BY: admin

Occupational Therapist Team

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The forgotten senses

The forgotten senses

Children need to move in order to learn about their body. This begins very early in utero, the most important senses at this stage are the tactile system and three forgotten senses.

Everyone knows about vision, hearing, smell taste and touch. These provide us information about what is going on outside our body.
But did you know there are other senses?

These are foundational to our sensory system. They are:  proprioception, the vestibular sense and interoception. These forgotten senses provide information about what is going on inside the body; its position, balance and status of internal organs.

Your child might be super wiggly and find it very difficult to keep still and listen. Being able to sit motionless while watching and listening is achieved only once the vestibular and proprioceptive system have matured.

To help these systems mature a child needs to carry out heaps of ‘heavy work’, running, jumping, spinning, tumbling and build adequate core strength for hours every day. Then they can sit still, listen and hold a pencil to learn to write.

OT can provide strategies to help your child improve their sensory awareness, posture and coordination in daily living and school skills.

For more information about our OT services in the Centre please call Tracey on 9274 7062.

Madeline Minehan
Occupational Therapist

04 Feb 2018

BY: admin

Occupational Therapist Team

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Fine motor skills and children

Ever wondered about fine motor skills and when children should be able to do things? The following is a guide to the fine motor skill of cutting and what children should be able to do at different times:

At two and a half years – children should be able to use scissors to snip paper (one snip only)
At age 3 years: Children should be able to cut a 10 cm piece of paper in two (no lines) & be able to cut along a 10 cm straight line and staying within 1.7 cm of the line.
At age 4 years: Children can cut a 15 cm along straight line, curve & 15 cm diameter circle staying within 1/2 cm of the line.
At age 5 years: Children can cut out a medium size square and triangle in 15 cm square piece of paper.
At age 6 years: Children can cut cloth with supervision and start to cut more complex shapes.

Children have difficulty cutting for a range of reasons. Our Occupational Therapists in the Centre (Madeline and Narelle) are available for assessment and therapy if needed.

Please feel free to contact Tracey on reception for further information on 9274 7062.

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