Occupational therapists at Vital Connections treat children, adolescents, families and adults, and specialise in the following conditions:
- Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
- Chronic primary pain
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Functional neurological disorder
- Neurodiversity: Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD
- Joint hypermobility
- Ehlers Danlos Syndrome
- Anxiety and Depression
Do you need a referral?
You do not require a formal referral for occupational therapy. However, if you or your child has a chronic condition you may be eligible for an Enhanced Primary Care plan from your GP which will make you eligible for a Medicare Rebate.
At the first session the occupational therapist will ask about:
- your main concerns
- your (or your child’s) current capacities, what you (or your child) were able to do previously,
- the environments in which you or your family live, work, learn and play
- daily routine and habits which can support function or reduce functional capacities. For example, somebody with chronic pain and fatigue will habitually rest, which gives relief in the moment but also reduces muscle strength and increases sensory sensitivity.
This information is gathered over interviews either online, in the clinic, or in the home, and you may be asked to complete questionnaires.
The occupational therapist will work with you (and/or your child) to identify your key values and strengths: these are essential to the process of therapy and recovery.
For children and adolescents, the clinic or home session may include play, interview and at times expressive therapies techniques, or observations.
At the end of the first sessions the therapist will provide you a summary. If further treatment is recommended, you and the therapist will plan these sessions according to your goals, and where strategies are best practiced.
Formal functional assessment takes 2-3 sessions. You will be provided with a written report, feedback and summary of recommendations.
Occupational Therapists assess functional capacities from three perspectives: the person, the occupation or activity, and the environment.
Person: the occupational therapist will assess development, sensory processing, emotional regulation, cognition and physical capacities, such as coordination, balance and movement, in everyday life.
Occupation: The occupational therapist will consider daily tasks, and whether the person has the skills and capacities that the task requires. For children, adolescents and adults the tasks are those that they would be expected to do at their age or development. Tasks can be related to self-care, domestic and community tasks such as cooking or driving, learning or work activities, leisure activities, sleep, and intimate activities.
Environment: The environment assessed includes the physical, sensory and social environment at home, work and school, and in the community. The environment also includes the cultural, socio-economic or political environment. Environments can enable participation, engagement and well-being, or contain barriers. An example of a barrier is traumatising environments. Traumatising environments can be intentional such as those which contain people who cause sexual, physical or emotional abuse. Trauma can also be a result of acts such as motor car accidents, or the result of hospitalization and procedures. For some people, everyday cultural norms can be alienating and traumatising, causing a sense of disconnection and isolation.
Occupational therapy usually begins with learning about the body, emotions and mind, and responses to danger and safety.
Understanding how and why body’s systems are reacting to day-to-day situations helps you to predict reactions and changes in sensations such as pain.
The occupational therapist will teach you techniques to calm or energise your nervous system. These include sensory modulation and mindfulness techniques (some people are not comfortable meditating or using mindfulness and find more active sensory strategies more effective).
It is important to begin these techniques in a safe environment, and the occupational therapist will help you to identify how you can create safety at home, work or school with the help of people and targeted sensory input.
The occupational therapist will then use sensory modulation and sensory-motor activities, play, expressive therapies, graded skills-based therapies, body mechanics, and environmental adaptions to help you (or your child) to:
- restore sleep
- play and engage in leisure
- focus to learn or work
- increase your capacity to care for yourself and thrive at home, school and in the community
Because participating in meaningful activity is therapeutic, occupational therapy will be focused on what gives you (or your child) a sense of mastery, joy and vitality.
The occupational therapist will liaise with professionals working with you (and/or your child), including psychologists, physiotherapists, school teachers, employers and medical professionals. The occupational therapist can attend school meetings, and care coordination meetings.
Home visits, and kindergarten, school or worksite visits are charged at an hourly rate plus travel time.
Occupational therapists at Vital Connections recognise the vital importance of relationships for safety, healing and growth. Connection through relationships with parents, siblings, friends, family, partners, teachers and health professionals provides each of us with opportunities to feel calm, heard and valued. Because relationships are so powerful, occupational therapy invites people who are important to you (and/or your child) into the therapy process. Together you may connect through games, artwork and story-telling, which boosts the effect of therapy. Therapists will help you to create opportunities for building skills and capacities in home and school environments.