April is Occupational Therapy month and we at Masada Homes want to celebrate the amazing contributions of our six occupational therapists. Occupational therapists have masters or doctorate degrees and have been licensed by California to provide services to individuals of all ages.
Our four pediatric OT’s include Molly Lynch, Yoonie Eady, Lauren Santiago, and Monica Cleary. Our OT working with our adult clients is Lillian Garcia. The OT team is led by program manager Michael Heaton. Thank you for all the hard work you do for Masada and those we serve!
What is Occupational Therapy?: Occupational therapists or OT’s help children and adults participate as fully as possible in activities which make their lives meaningful. They do so using the value of engaging in everyday activities. Treatments are tailored to the needs of the individual, and help the individual get back to doing the things they love, such as socializing, managing finances, maintaining housing, taking care of household and personal hygiene needs, and self-regulating.
Occupational therapy with children often looks like play and can include working with children on games, crafts, outdoor/indoor play and social activities. However, don’t be fooled! This play has a specific purpose. Each activity is chosen because it requires the children to build on and use specific skills which they might need to improve, such as sustaining attention, following written or verbal directions, reducing frustration, prioritizing each step, or self-regulating their emotions and energy level. Occupational therapists also work on sensory integration to help children manage individual differences in the way their bodies experience the sensations of living.
One of the most commonly used OT treatments are the Zones of Regulation which teaches children to identify their current energy level as one of four zones including Red, Yellow, Green, or Blue. For example if a child is in the blue zone, they feel low energy and are having trouble motivating themselves to get going. A child in the yellow zone might be feeling too energetic for the activity they are doing such as sitting in a classroom or doing a household chore.
A common OT activity is to create colorful posters representing each zone and to find magazine pictures which represent times when the child experiences each of these zones during the course of a typical day in their life. Once children are taught to identify these regulation states in themselves they can learn strategies during fun activities which teach them to move themselves from a zone which is causing them trouble (such as challenges with sitting through a full homework session or controlling the impulse to hit their sibling) into a zone which is appropriate for the activity they want or need to do, such as learning or listening to their caregivers and following family rules.
Thanks again to all our OT’s for your hard work. Feel free to ask your treatment team about adding an OT, or to consult with program manager Michael Heaton for more information about our program and services.