Occupational Therapy & Autism {Sensory Treat – Review & Giveaway}

I vividly remember certain details after receiving the news of Gilbert’s autism diagnosis, just after his 4th birthday. Yet vaguely recall others.

I know I sat there in the paediatrician’s office in a brown vinyl chair. I remember the colourful town scene sheet on the examination table that had caused Gilbert’s almighty meltdown, mid examination. And I recall the muted light coming through the windows set behind the paediatrician’s desk, offset by dated apricot vertical blinds.

I remember these random details but I don’t recall many of the specifics of her words, especially after she proclaimed he had a diagnosis of autism.

I recall there were a lot of specialists and therapists mentioned at the time but I could not make sense of why they were required amid the confusion. grief and reality of the diagnosis. I understood why he needed to see a speech pathologist (he had echolalia and could not speak in proper sentences at the time) and a psychologist but for the life of me I could not understand why she was recommending he see an occupational therapist (OT) as well.

What did OT have to do with anything? What was the link between occupational therapy & autism?

Back then, I honestly could not see the connection between occupational therapy and it’s value as an early intervention tool for autism.

Now as we head towards the 7th anniversary of diagnosis day (it’s next Tuesday to be exact) I now have the benefit of 7 years experience of accessing occupational therapy support. To date we have seen 8 different OTs from 4 different practices. They have each brought something valuable to our family and have helped Gilbert (and us) overcome a number of everyday difficulties.

So what can an OT do for a child on the autism spectrum? You will be surprised at the many aspects of daily life they can enhance. According to ASPECT, “occupational therapy is an individualised service aimed at building your child’s skills and ability to participate in everyday routines, tasks and activities.” Occupational therapists are trained to assess your child’s needs and current levels of functioning and create therapies to address any identified difficulties. Needs requiring assistance might include developing their fine and gross motor skills, their ability to undertake self care, engage in play and effective learning, organisational skills as well as the management of sensory issues.

As Gilbert also has a vision impairment as a result of his albinism, we have needed to deal with a variety of issues over the years and our OTs have been a godsend. They have helped us improve his core strength, develop balance and climbing skills, identify sensory issues interfering with his diet, manage his anxieties by providing deep pressure therapy, help with his handwriting and fine motor skills, address disruptive sensory seeking behaviours and regulate his responses when he suffers from sensory overwhelm.

At the moment we are working with his current OT to address his anxieties for our upcoming overseas trip to the USA. She has been helping him understand how to rationalise some of his fears and how to practically manage them when they threaten to overwhelm him. As we have progressed through the years the services we have accessed have changed and adapted to his needs. There have been years we have had fortnightly sessions and others where we only attended once a term. Regardless of frequency, the sessions have always been a valuable tool to measure his progress and understand his changing needs.

Throughout the years there is one area we have struggled with when it comes to OT – undertaking the home activities required of any decent OT program. It’s not just attending the appointment – OT is all about reinforcing these strategies at home to ensure that progress is made and consolidated. I must confess that I have not always followed through with the required home activities due to lack of time, forgetfulness and the struggle to get Gilbert onside to complete them.

Thankfully I am not alone in struggling to keep up OT programs at home – I know of many families who also face the same challenge. And now there is a tool available to help us all get back on track and ensure all those gains made at appointments are not lost.

SensoryTreat

Sensory Treat has been developed by Hadas and Oren Steinberg to help them keep up with the OT needs of their two children, both diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorders (SPD). Sensory Treat is a program that helps parents keep up with sensory diets prescribed by their OTs. These diets often require intervention every 2-3 hours and, amid the pace of everyday life, they can be easily forgotten or pushed to the side.

The sensory treat app allows parents to set a reminder for when regular sensory activities are due to occur. It also allows parents to note observations on how the activities affect their child, develop their own schedule of activities and document the experiences of the child which can be sent to their OT for more immediate advice and assistance.

SensoryMagnets

The app can also be supported by SensoryMagnets which are a set of 108 illustrations of sensory home activities, grouped by type of sensory simulation – vestibular (balance); oral; heavy work; deep pressure and jumping. These activities are designed to address recognised issues with the main sensory systems of the human body – vestibular, olfactory (smell), proprioception (position of the body in space), visual, auditory, gustatory (taste) and tactile systems.

I was lucky enough to be allowed access to the app for the purposes of review and to a small sample of the magnets too, and I have to say I am very impressed. As a parent that has struggled with sticking to a sensory diet in the past, I know these would be an ideal tool for any family wanting to keep on track with their children’s sensory needs. The magnets clearly demonstrate each activity making it easy for both child and parent to get it right in a home setting. The added functionality of being able to record observations while undertaking the activity make this a useful and powerful a tool for both families and their OTs.

The Sensory Treat app can be purchased by subscription from the App Store and from Google play. A 3 month subscription is $18.99 which would give you a really good feel for the app and help you identify whether it would work for you. A 6 month subscription is $37.99 with a 12 month subscription providing even better value for $44.99. All 108 SensoryMagnets can also be purchased as a complete set for $99.99.

If this sounds like a program that could benefit your family have a chat to your OT and see whether this could be worked into a future therapy program. I would definitely discuss Sensory Treat with your OT before committing to ensure you get the maximum amount of value from this valuable program.

Giveaway

Sensory Treat have been generous enough to provide a complimentary 12 month subscription to the app for one My Home Truths reader. This would allow you to check it out and consult with your OT to draw the maximum benefit from this very useful and practical program.

To be in the running for your chance to win, like My Home Truths and Sensory Treat on Facebook and leave a comment sharing the most important benefit you or someone you know has gained from occupational therapy.

I would have to go with the revelation that it was okay and even desirable to initiate rough play with Gilbert just before bed. You wouldn’t think that would be conducive to sleep but it was exactly what his body used to crave in order to start shutting down for the night. It certainly opened my eyes and made bedtime a whole lot more interesting for us!

As usual, this giveaway is only open to Australian residents. The winner will be notified on the blog and via email. Competition closes 6pm AEDST Monday March 30.

Got it? Good luck and make sure you check out Sensory Treat for yourself – it’s a wealth of information and resources for anyone dealing with SPD, SMD, ADHD, autism or any related sensory condition.

Linking up with Jess for IBOT.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary subscription and a sample of magnets from Sensory Treat for the purposes of review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for this post and all opinions and views are honest and completely my own.

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23 Responses

  1. My 3yr old niece has just been diagnosed with Autism so I’ll pass this onto my SIL because I’m sure they could get lots of use out of the prize 🙂
    Toni @ Finding Myself Young recently posted..Mummy Must Have Review | My Lil Pouch

  2. Thanks Toni. My 3 year old daughter has been diagnosed with autism and has benefited from occupational therapy by finding a way to help calm down using bean bags, music and dancing. Still a long way to go but it’s a great start.

  3. Just want to say what a fantastic app!! I am sure it will help so many families xx
    Deb @ inner compass designs recently posted..A to Z of intentional living – C is for…

  4. I bet it was so daunting Kirsty, I admire the way you are sharing your experiences, and products, to help those in similar situations x
    Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me recently posted..Warning: this post is about…

  5. There are some pretty darn clever people out there to come up with apps like this. I’m sure it will help many young kids with Autism. Good luck with the OT in preparation for your big trip away. You are a wonderful mum. #teamIBOT
    Renee Wilson recently posted..Kylie and dreams

  6. Tegan says:

    What a great idea for an app. It’s awesome that there are so many things now that can help make life easier for parents and kids with issues.
    Tegan recently posted..Ghosts: Do you believe?

  7. OTs are fantastic. I am going to pass this on to my friend who’s daughter has Autism and some sensory issues.
    Kaz @ Melting Moments recently posted..WWU – Purple with Purpose for World Epilepsy Day

  8. What an awesome app. I have a girlfriend who would love this. I have busted sent her a text with your link so she can enter the comp. Thanks lovely for sharing.
    Natalie @ OurParallelConnection recently posted..Because of you – #OPCWonderfulWords

  9. I don’t have any need for the app myself though it looks like a brilliant resource for a parent or carer. I will share on my fb for anyone who may wish to enter!
    Amy @ HandbagMafia recently posted..Don’t Trust a Blogger With Your Life

  10. My 2.9 year old was only diagnosed in late January, and we have been struggling with NDIS funding and waiting lists where we are, so we haven’t begun OT yet, but will begin next week. It’s all a bit of a maze right now, but we are looking specifically at things like focus, toilet traing and self care in our plan. I honestly can’t wait to access some support.
    Dani @ sand has no home recently posted..Nothing Ever Happens (Thankfully)

  11. Lisa Wood says:

    Oh I so wished I had the app when my oldest boys were younger – they had lots of therapies over the years for speech and eating {needing to correct when the tongue was positioned in the mouth}. What a great app.
    So glad you are able to have help with your son, sounds like it will help with your travel plans. Autism sure is more common then it used to be, and something we have experienced with our family.
    Hope your trip to the USA is lots of fun.
    Lisa Wood recently posted..Skipping Stones At The Beach

  12. We have no need for the app but what a wonderful prize for a family that struggles to do the at home exercises with their kids. Autism adds a whole new level to parenting doesn’t it? Good on you for finding something to help other parents! Hope you have a great weekend Kirsty. Xx
    Bec @ The Plumbette recently posted..Essential Baby Equipment to keep mum sane and baby safe part II + Lumbar High Chair Giveaway

  13. Brian says:

    Occupational therapy can really help fine tune those motor skills and make every day tasks that much easier for kids. Thanks for sharing!

  14. care homes says:

    Caregivers can help the elder maintain the lifestyle that he or she was once accustomed to. Its part of a caregiver’s training to sustain the momentum and not let the person in their care slide into diffidence and depression.
    care homes recently posted..Press Coverage Of PresCare TVC ‘It’s More You’ Campaign

  15. Thanks for this post. I’ll show this to my friend. I think it’ll help his son with this.

  16. nice insights. Oh and Great app by the way. You can help more people with this.

  17. It’s a good thing there’s a sensory treatment. It’ll be easy for the others to deal with their problems.

  18. That sensory treatment is great. Autism should be treated. I got a friend he has autism, but it is treated.He can now handle things on his own.
    Australian home care recently posted..Brother and sister reunited at Sherwood Place Day Centre

  19. It’s really important to handle that autism. It will help them to cope up in their future.

  1. July 8, 2016

    […] have shared before my sense of puzzlement when I first heard that occupational therapy, or OT, would be a big part of the autism early intervention process for our […]

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