Anxiety and OT

I went to an occupational therapist for anxiety. I went twice a week for 8 weeks, then went down to once every two weeks. I don’t think many people associate OT and anxiety, but it works. I’m going to explain my experiences with occupational therapy.

The first thing I did was go through an assessment process. My OT read me a “quiz” that helped her get a better understanding of how I lived, my cognitive and motor skills, how I handle social situations, etc. She then read it over and wrote out her understanding of me.

From there, I had sessions of being in the sensory gym and using the equipment. In the gym there were many things to do. My favourite was the hammock, it gave me a break from all the anxiety producing activities. My OT and I would go through different scents that I liked, fidgets that helped me focus on something other than my anxiety, and use the equipment to help me relax. One of the most helpful things in the sensory gym was when my OT turned off the lights, put a star projector on, and let me relax and “turn off” from the world. These little breaks from everything really helped me with self regulation.

My OT and I would work through strategies and figure out what helped. Such as exercises, breathing, and distractions. These strategies were aimed at going out into social situations and how to handle anxiety popping up.

Overall, going to an OT for anxiety was a very good decision, and I wish more people thought go that as an option.

Thanks for listening!

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Calm Down Box (under $25)

I’ve seen calm down boxes all over Pinterest, so what makes this one so special? well, its under $25 and took about 10 minutes to get the supplies and put it together!

A calm down box is a great way to help calm a child, with activities and comfort items. It is a safe way for a child to calm themselves and feel in control. Calm down boxes work for all ages, and are an excellent way to direct a child’s energy into something safe and distracting.

I went to the closest dollar store, which happened to be under 5 minutes away. I started off by finding a box. The box I found looks a lot like a 80s arcade, or maybe outdated bus seats. But it works.

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Occupational Therapy VS Physical Therapy

There is often confusion between OT and PT,This will be a quick run down of the differences.

Definitions: 

OT: To maintain, recover, or develop skills of people with physical, mental, or cognitive disabilities. Focusing on improving a persons daily abilities and improving life skills.

PT: The treatment of a disease, injury, or deformity by physical methods such as massage, heat treatment, and exercise. Evaluating and diagnosing movement dysfunctions.

Daily Roles:

OT: An OT works with people of all ages, helping with anything from handwriting with an elderly person to calm down techniques with a child. An OT’s patients vary from an elderly person who experienced a stroke, to a young child with autism.

PT: A PT works with people of all ages. Focusing on strengthening a certain muscle that could have been damaged due to injury or a birth deformity. A PT techniques are different from an OT, A PT works with exercise and massage to correct an injury.

Perceptions:

OT: Typically, if you talk to someone about OT they have no clue what you’re talking about. It is not a very well known job. It is also hard to explain to someone who has never heard of it.

PT: Almost everyone knows what a PT is, because chances are that some point in everyone’s life, you are going to need PT. It is a very well known job and understood easily.

Salary Differences: 

OT: median $78,810

PT: median $82,390

a difference of just over $3,500  

Education: 

OT: Bachelors in practically anything, but must include certain courses. Masters in OT.

PT: Bachelors and masters. Some PT’s hold a doctorate.

Licensing: 

OT: National Occupational Certification Examination

PT: National, Physical Therapist Examination

 

Why My Alternative High School is the Best

In 2012 I enrolled at PSII, an alternative way-of-learning school. It has given me opportunities to explore my passions, including Occupational Therapy. I’ve been able to meet with an occupational therapist every two weeks to discuss what I am working on. I have also been given the opportunity to create different sensory items, which is how I spend a lot of day. I love being able to structure my day around what I am passionate about. I have almost finished all my courses (4 months early!) so my big focus is now on this blog and everything to do with occupational therapy! I’ll give you a run down on how my school day goes;

9:30 – school starts, but I’m always early. On Tuesday’s I have math at this time

9:30-11:30 – This varies from writing blog posts, researching, doing sensory DIYs, and discussing school with my teachers

11:30-12:30 – This is when I normally go to Starbucks or to the mall to walk around and grab supplies I might need

12:30-1 – Normally I take this time as lunch time

1-2 – Sometimes there are labs at this time. But, normally I just continue working on what I was before lunch, or I find something else to do.

2-3:30 – The end of the day. Which is always hard to find something to do. Truthfully, I normally don’t do a lot in this time. Sometimes I’ll be making lists or researching random things. At 3:30 the day ends

There is a lot of flexibility. So if I’ve been working on one thing for 2 hours, I can switch it up and work on something completely different. Considering I am almost done all of my classes, I have to get creative on how to entertain myself throughout the day. For other students, they have to work on their courses, but for me its more focused on what I want to do. I’m thankful that I’ll be finished early, because then I’ll be able to volunteer and work. That’s the great thing about my school. I don’t have to be there, I can learn elsewhere.

This is just a quick post on my school. But trust me, its the best school in BC, probably even Canada.

Dollar Store Sensory Bottles

Today I thought I would make sensory bottles, considering my sensory bag leaked (probably because I got 99 cent ziplocks from the dollar store). So I ventured to Dollarama, the Canadian version of Dollartree. There I spent a total of $16.25. Here is the list of things I bought;

  • Set of 4 plastic bottles x2 ($6)
  • Small multicoloured building blocks ($2.50)
  • Decorative gems ($2)
  • Glitter glue x2 ($2.50)
  • Purple sparkly gravel ($2)
  • Multicoloured sand ($1.25)

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I had leftover water beads from a previous project so I decided to throw those in there.

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This is what I came up with. From left to right;

  1. Water beads in the plastic bottle (creative, I know)
  2. Decorative gems, they make a cool nice and are very shiny
  3. Glitter glue in water. This one was cool, the glitter glue sticks in little bits that float around.
  4. Decorative sand, now this one was disappointing. I thought there would be a lot more sand in that kit. But it still looks pretty and makes a nice sound
  5. Purple sparkly gravel, this one sounds like rain and is very nice to look at
  6. Multicoloured toy blocks. These ones are really neat to look at. They also make a noise thats different from the others
  7. Another bottle of water beads.

This whole project took me under 10 minutes to make. If I include the trip to the dollar store, then it took me around 30 minutes. I’d say its a success, but I should probably test it out. I’m planning to bring a few to a 9 month old I babysit. I’ve heard a lot of good things about sensory bottles, so hopefully mine will be just as well received!

Getting Into The Business

Yesterday I met with an occupational therapist. In my 18 years of being around occupational therapists I have never met one that isn’t the nicest person in the room. She was extremely helpful. We talked about schooling and even volunteer opportunities for me. Here are three main points she told me on how to get into occupational therapy masters program:

  1. Get a bachelors in anything, but make sure it has the required classes for the OT program you want to apply for. I’m planning on psychology, and she said that many of her colleagues have a bachelors in psychology.
  2. The more experience you have, the more likely you will be excepted into an OT program. Specifically volunteering with an OT or with children.
  3. It takes a minimum of 6 years, 4 years for a bachelors and 2 years in the OT program. The OT I talked to took 2 years in-between to work with kids. This gave her more experience, like I said, the more experience the better.

The OT I talked to said that it’s harder to go into private practice right away, so it’s best to get a job within the health care system, i.e. a hospital. Private practice makes a lot more money, and thats what I want to do in the long run, but start within a system to gain experience and seniority. There is a huge need for paediatric private practice which is great for people like me who want to open a private practice eventually. The OT I spoke with told me she’s always wanted to work with kids, and I have also always wanted to too. Being in the field is a very rewarding job. From what I see, its the best job out there.

Frog Sensory Bag

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First off, what is a sensory bag? a sensory bag is mainly used for children under the age of 2. It is a mess free way to experience different sensory objects. This one is a “frog and water” bag. The “water” is hair gel.

As I was scrolling through Pinterest, I came across sensory bags. I currently babysit two girls under one years old. I thought a sensory bag would be perfect for a baby. Still giving the child a chance to explore, but in a safer way. I found all the materials at the dollar store; duct tape, (knock off) ziplock, toy frogs, and blue shower gel. I was originally looking for hair gel, but they only had clear. I think it still worked out well. I am babysitting a nine month old on Friday, so I will bring it to her and see how she reacts. I’ll keep you updated!

UPDATE:

It leaked, all over my bag. I’ve since put it in a stronger ziplock. It was probably not the best choice to buy 99 cent ziplocks from a dollar store. I’m going to remake it and hopefully It will turn out better then this one!

UPDATE #2:

The bag was well received, a fun experience for the one year old and a easy way for me to get a break. She was very interested for a solid 10 minutes.