LiveBig’s Occupational Therapy Discipline Specialist, Jessica Suh, has been working hard to support parents during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. For children and adolescents, parents have always been an essential part of the therapy journey, but in the current global health crisis, their role has become one of frontline professional.
“Parents are the unsung heroes for me,” she said. “I couldn’t do my work without them.”
“With so many now working and doing school from home, parents of children with disabilities are also finding themselves in the
role of therapy assistant, as they translate, demonstrate and prompt for the virtual therapist on the other side of a teleconsulting screen.
“Our therapists are well-practised at supporting parents with short, simple instructions, because this is a standard part of the therapy routine. For example, guiding the parent through how to grade the support when approaching a task:
- Use a keyword, e.g. open
- Now try guiding with hand over hand, e.g. guide one hand to body of marker and the other to the lid
- Assist to help pull off the lid if you need to.”
And although they’ve always been a key participant, Jessica is finding parents can develop a deeper level of practical skill as they take on a more active role. This often happens unconsciously. Parents might automatically start to model teeth brushing in the morning, for example, especially while there’s a bit less time pressure.
“It’s so important to highlight these achievements because parents can overlook how much they contribute to their child’s journey of acquiring and maintaining new skills.”
With routines now flipped inside out, Jessica acknowledges life under lockdown has thrown some significant challenges to parents. Here are some activities she’s suggesting to clients who need sensory seeking alternatives to their pre-pandemic life.
- Get out the chalk and do a drawing on the driveway or footpath
- Blow up some balloons for a game of balloon volleyball
- Use your watercolour paints to create a window drawing of a rainbow
- Find a rope and do some jump rope games with the whole family