I had the opportunity to interview Christine Deloria, one of Step by Step Care Group’s occupational therapists in Chicago. Christine received her Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy at the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee. She completed her graduate degree at National Louis University in Early Childhood Education. Christine utilizes child-centered play therapy in order to increase children’s life skills and daily functions.
Q: How would you define child occupational therapy?
A: Child occupational therapy develops necessary skills in order to function in the child’s natural environment. Child occupational therapy consists of developing sensory integration, self-care, and motor skills. Therapy focuses around child play in their natural environments (school, daycare, or home) in order to become independent with little frustration.
Q: What are the most common goals you work on with your patients?
A: The most common goals revolve around sensory, fine motor, and visual motor skills. Addressing feeding skills can also be a goal with most patients. I work with many children who are picky eaters. We work on introducing different types of textures, tastes, and combinations of foods. I also have family goals since I encourage families to be present during sessions. For instance, one goal might be that family members will be knowledgeable of 3 sensory activities. Self-care goals revolve around dressing and undressing independently. It might include putting on a shirt, zipping a jacket, putting on shoes, and tying shoes. Sensory goals encourage engaging and exploring in tactile play for a certain amount of time. For example, playing in the sandbox for 4 consecutive minutes.
Q: What are some common disorders children have that need occupational therapy?
A: Common disorders can include developmental delays in fine motor skills, Down syndrome, sensoryprocessing disorder (SPD), sensory integration disorder, Cerebral Palsy, Autism, and feeding disorders. This is just a small snapshot of the many types of disorders an occupational Therapist might see.
Q: What type of child play therapy do you do with your patients?
A: I try to incorporate a lot of gross motor movements. I use therapy balls for slow rocking, tunnels for crawling, and scooter boards for arm strengthening. For sensory integration, I use rice, sand, and water play. We work with shaving cream or puzzles for fine motor skills. I also work on arm strengthening by using beads that connect and pull apart, building with blocks, and gym play. I work on visual motor with different types of board games and tossing and catching a ball. Blowing bubbles through a straw helps with oral motor skills as well.
Q: What are some activities parents can do at home?
A: During the therapy sessions, I always encourage families to participate. I try to use the child’s toys for child play therapy. Therefore, I can explain to parents why we are using the toys and how to use them effectively. I would encourage parents to practice similar activities and skills that therapist show them and may provide for "homework". This is the best way to encourage carryover of goals.
Q: Explain a case that was extremely successful for you as a therapist?
A: I am currently working with a young boy on sensory integration, self-care, and motor skills. He has improved tremendously since I started with him. He mastered his feeding goals that involve holding a fork, picking up food, and putting an appropriate amount of food in his mouth. He is able to follow 2 step directions and has increased his attention span. He is continuing to work on dressing and zippering a jacket. The consistency of the sessions is important for seeing such rapid improvement.
If you would like more information on the topics covered in this interview or would like to connect with one of our occupational therapists in Chicago please contact Step by Step Care Group.