The Need For Therapy
The effort to improve the lives of individuals through therapy is driven by the desire to expand the quality of life that people can enjoy. Professionals are focused on providing their services as a path to allow people the ability to access their full potential. As the collective understanding of developmental disabilities and autism has expanded, therapies have become a staple in many early development programs to provide children and young people with the best experience possible. Some of the most popular therapy programs that benefit people with special needs are speech therapy and occupational therapy. Therapists in these fields work with patients in order to expand their functions in speech, movement, and everyday activities that contribute to a meaningful daily outlook. With professional help, people have been able to greatly expand their quality of life and to foster their own independence.
Overview: Speech And Occupational Therapy
In order to understand the necessity for these services for individuals with special needs, it’s important to know how they work and what they do to benefit those involved. While there are many variants and experimental versions of each program, based upon individual needs as well as the professional philosophy of the therapist, each of these therapies boil down to one thing at their center: improved quality of life.
Occupational therapy isn’t necessarily involved with the development of work skills, despite the name connotation with employment, although it is possible that therapists may work with individuals on work skills. Occupational therapy (OT) is concerned with the development and strengthening of fine motor skills and Activities for Daily Living (ADL). The range of conditions that an occupational therapist might help with is vast, with a very diverse patient list and very different working venues. “Occupations” are activities that humans are concerned with for a meaningful life.
For an adult, these motor skills might be more work-related or skill-related, whereas a child’s “occupation” would center more on play and school work. In children, OT professionals work to sharpen skills involved in these occupations and on strengthening the developments in formative growth. Occupational therapists are seen as creative problem solvers, adapting ideas to strengthen skills in children and adults that incorporate science, compassion, and empathy into programs that each individual will benefit from. An occupational therapist might customize a program for a child with autism that incorporates sensory activities that improve motor skills while simulating play in order to improve.
Speech Therapy might be easier than OT to understand contextually, but the program can be very complex. Speech therapy specifically deals with communication disorders like speech disorder, where individuals have difficulty producing words and sounds, or language disorder, where patients might have difficulty understanding words and putting together sentences to communicate. Speech therapists might also help with feeding conditions such as dysphagia which is a condition where individuals have difficulty swallowing.
Speech therapists are similar to occupational therapists in that both professions need patience and empathy for individual needs and both professions need to find creative ways to help individuals develop their skills. Where an occupational therapist might simulate motor activities to help their patients develop, a speech therapist is an expert on replicating communication scenarios to help their patients grow. Speech therapy can be critical for children with ASD whose communication skills can improve greatly with therapeutic intervention.
Both of these programs require a special person with the creative aptitude to apply scientific practices to create a unique therapy program for their patients. For patients, the skills that they struggle with can be very frustrating and the deep impact of these therapies is the expansion of understanding and physical execution necessary for everyday activities.
What Can Therapy Do?
Therapy programs, particularly speech and occupational therapy, are designed to develop, nurture and maintain some normalcy in people’s lives so they can thrive. OT professionals might help an individual who had a stroke to return function to their extremities and perform tasks that they currently have difficulty with, while they might help a different individual with autism to expand their motor functions and social skills. Speech therapy could help that same stroke patient deal with speech issues, while helping a different patient to expand their communication skills to formulate and understand sentences. Because the focus is on the individual and because both professionals have to tailor creative solutions to manage improvement, the outcomes are highly individualized.
One thing that’s certain about speech therapy and particularly occupational therapy is that early intervention is key, especially for kids with developmental disorders and specific conditions like autism. The goal of these programs for children is to enhance their development to avoid delay, working on these skills early in life for an optimal outcome as they mature into adulthood. The things that an individual with special needs might learn in a therapy program could make a huge difference in how they perform academically and in future employment.
Seeking Therapy Services
Seeking therapy can be one of the most difficult decisions that someone has to make for themselves or for someone else. There are a lot of things to consider, including the expertise of different therapists, the cost out-of-pocket, and how to make therapy work for a specific schedule. However, taking a “wait and see” approach to therapeutic intervention might actually cause more problems in the long run, particularly when it comes to children.
When choosing a professional therapist, make sure that you are aware of their personal philosophy and what conditions they typically work with. Some OT professionals are very effective when working with people who are trying to regain movement skills after an accident or stroke, but they might not be the best choice possible for individuals with special needs.
Lexington has a skilled staff of therapists that serve Phoenix and the surrounding area. Our clinic-based programs offer both Speech and Occupational therapy solutions for individuals with special needs. Our therapists have a lot of experience and compassion for the members we serve.
In our occupational therapy program, parents can expect our pediatric occupational therapists to help children develop skills needed for independence while increasing fine motor skills, sensory-motor skills, and visual-motor skills.
Our pediatric speech therapy program treats communication disorders, both in expressive and receptive language, that cause children to have difficulties with verbal communication. Speech therapy through Lexington also helps with articulation, auditory processing, and social skills.
If you are considering therapy options in the Phoenix area, our staff can help and you can contact us here today.
For a similar topic, read the previous blog post.