The Faces of Autism/Therapist's Stories/Brittany (pt. 1)

The Faces (Helping the Faces) of Autism: Meet Brittany (Pt. 1)

Meet Brittany an Occupational Therapist at Red Door Pediatric Therapy in Bismarck, ND and Owner/Facilitator at H.I.P.P. Kids Therapy in Mandan, ND. She works with many children with Autism, as well as those without. I believe not enough people know about Occupational Therapy and how it can help children, but I will leave it up to the expert to explain better! I debated putting both of Brittany's jobs together for today's post, but instead broke it up into a 2 part post as each is important.  First up is her work with Red Door!  

Occupational Therapist, Red Door Pediatric Therapy in Bismarck, ND

What made you choose your field?
 I have always enjoyed working with and being around kids, therefore I knew I wanted a profession that would allow me to do so. Being an Occupational Therapist allows me to do that everyday, and I LOVE my job!

Tell me a little about how your job relates to working with children with ASD:
Occupational therapy (OT) helps people of all ages to independently participate in meaningful “occupations.” Occupations are activities that people do every day to occupy their time and provide meaning to their life. Occupations include things that are expected of them, as well as activities of daily living. These are things we have to do daily, such as getting dressed, eating, bathing, toileting, etc. These are daily life skills that we want children to be able to be complete independently and successfully. OT also assists children in meeting developmental milestones, which are required to be successful within their environments, such as their home, school, and when interacting with peers.

Why is this therapy important for a large percentage of kids with ASD?
Therapy can play an important role for all children with ASD. They may have difficulty with being able to initiate and complete daily self care activities on their own. Occupational therapy can assist with providing specific strategies in order to make these tasks easier and more achievable. Children with ASD may have difficulty with the ability to process sensory input from within their environment. They may be sensory defensive, meaning they are sensitive to particular sounds, touches, or textures. While other children with ASD may be sensory seeking, meaning their body “craves” movement/input. This may appear as excessive crashing, jumping, or seeming to always be “too rough”. Occupational therapists can assist in determining what specific sensory input they may benefit from. They may also have increased difficulty with transitions and changes within their routines, leading to overall limited coping/calming skills. OT can assist with developing strategies to assist with these challenges.

What is the most rewarding part of your chosen profession?
I truly love working with kids and there is never a dull moment! It is great to see and be apart of all of their excitement! It's so rewarding to see them progress and reach milestones and goals, that were once challenging for them. It is also rewarding to work with such dedicated parents and families and to be apart of their journey as well.

Anything else that you feel is important to let others know about working with kids with ASD?
As with any diagnosis, early intervention is key. The earlier services can begin, the more adaptations and strategies can be provided to allow children to continue to develop and meet milestones that are age appropriate and typical of their peers.

If you have concerns about your child's daily living skills, eating issues, or any sensory problems to name a few of the things OT can help with, Red Door, as well as most other local rehabilitative therapy centers, offers a free screening to determine whether your child may need to pursue a more in depth evaluation.  My children go to Red Door, so I will admit to the bias I have.  They are AMAZING! You can reach them through their contact form HERE or call the Bismarck location at 701-222-3175

If you suspect your child may have an Autism Spectrum Disorder, there are great supports in the community.  One of my favorites is BisMan Autism Families on Facebook, the people there can help guide you in the right direction, through the process.